The Ultimate Gay Travel Guide
The Gay Passport is your complete Gay Travel Guide. Looking to Drink, Play or Sleep we have reviews to help. Award-winning & Updated 2023.
Cologne has the distinct advantage of being home to not one, but two gayborhoods. One is located in the heart of the Old Town (Altstadt), around Heumarkt-Mathiasstrasse. This area is most popular with older gays and bears, although you will spot some young crowds here as well. All of the city’s cruise bars are in this part of town. As well as being particularly picturesque, Altstaft is near the Rhine, the cathedral, and several museums, meaning it is a great area to stay for sightseeing.
The other gay Cologne neighborhood is a bit further west, concentrating around Rudolfplatz. The grouping of gay bars in this area is sometimes referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle”, and is mostly made up of spots popular with a young, trendy crowd. Two of the city’s gay saunas are in this area.
It’s worth pointing out that Cologne’s city center, while not small by any means, is not particularly spread out. About a 20-minute walk separates both neighborhoods, choosing one will not exactly exclude you from enjoying the other.
Legally, all hotels in Cologne are gay-friendly. Germany has generally progressive LGBT laws with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is illegal.
Cologne is one of Germany’s most liberal and open-minded cities and is home to a significant LGBT population, a thriving and vast gay scene, and a large chunk of the country’s pink tourism.
Cologne has two gayborhoods. One is located in the heart of the Old Town (Altstadt), around Heumarkt-Mathiasstrasse and the other is further west, around Rudolfplatz is sometimes referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle”. However, the two gayborhoods are only a 20-minute walk between them so choosing a hotel in either one will not stop you from enjoying the other.
Some of the hotels in this list are positioned between the two neighborhoods and will show up in both location filters. These hotels can be if ideal if you don’t have a preference or spot a bargain at your ideal hotel.
Across Europe, Motel One hotels combine sleek contemporary design with great central locations and affordable rates. Here in Cologne, this means you are in the middle of the Altstadt shopping district, less than a 15-minute walk from the cathedral, several museums, and the Heumarkt-Mathiasstrasse gayborhood. Rooms are decorated in warm tones with the brand’s trademark teal and slate accents, and are all very comfortable and well-appointed. All the rooms are doubles and they are all the same size – compact but well-designed. We do suggest getting the King bed rooms for some extra comfort.
This ibis hotel is located about a 10-minute walk from the Rudolplatz gay bars and no more than 20 minutes from the other gayborhood in Altstadt. Plus, the closest tram station, Batbarossaplatz, is just a couple of minutes from the hotel. Rooms are decorated in a modern and minimalist style and are compact yet well-designed. As is usual with ibis, there is a selection of themed “MyRoom” options, for those who like their decor more unique.
This hostel stands out thanks to its incredible design, with creative themed rooms that range from the inside of a spaceship to a fairytale forest. Even the dorms are fun and unique, each based on performance arts like cinema, theater, and the circus. Choose from a single, double, triple, or quadruple room, or book a cozy bunk bed in one of the dorms. Every bunk has privacy curtains, a reading light, and a plug, and they are wider and more comfortable than most dorm beds. Bathrooms are all shared and kept in tip-top shape at all times. There are several communal spaces to mingle with other travelers, including a living room and a bar. Plus, Phoenix sauna is literally a couple of doors down the street and the Rudolfplatz gay bars are a 5-minute walk away, making this perhaps the most gay-friendly hostel in Cologne.
Hotel Esplanade is located a short 5-minute walk from all of the Rudolfplatz gay bars, including ExCorner, Exile, Die Mumu, and Hennes’ Terrace. It’s a no-frills independent hotel offering great value in a central, super gay-friendly location. Rooms are compact yet modern, clean, and very comfortable. The triple rooms make for a very affordable option for groups and some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the street.
The highlight of Maritim Hotel is its huge central hall, complete with glass ceilings, indoor greenery, and ample terrace seating for a restaurant, two bars, and a cafe. There is also a garden terrace on the roof with lovely views over the Rhine. The rooms are on the old-fashioned side in terms of decor, but everything is comfortable, clean, and well-maintained. Several of them have river views, and some of the Superior rooms have excellent cathedral views. Facilities include a fitness room, sauna, steam room, and indoor swimming pool, the latter of which is free to all guests. The riverside location is super convenient for sightseeing and gay nightlife: gay venues within a 5-minute walk include Bauselle 4U, Gentle-Bears, Amadeus, Barcelon, Vulcanus Sauna, Station 2B cruising club, and Venue, home to HomOriental, a popular Turkish monthly gay party.
Wasserturm Hotel Cologne (translation: Hotel in Water Tower) is a great choice for those who like something a bit different. This boutique hotel is built into a converted 19th-century water tower in the Old Town, giving the whole property a historic and unique feel. Rooms range from Singles to a charming two-level maisonette room, and are all spacious and bright. The Premium and Maisonette rooms are especially airy due to their high ceilings and large windows. The restaurant and lounge on the top floor offers panoramic 360° views of the city and an outdoor terrace – this is a great spot for an evening cocktail. Hotel Im Wasserturm is located between both gayborhoods, about a 15-minute walk from either.
This hotel has a picturesque location on the banks of the Rhine, a short walk from the major Altstadt attractions like the cathedral. Both Deck 5 and Pullermanns cruise clubs are about 5 minutes away, and it’s about 10 minutes to the main grouping of Altstadt gay bars around Heumarkt-Mathiasstrasse. As usual with Art’otel, expect stylish contemporary interiors and plenty of eye-catching original modern art. Rooms are spacious, in a soothing all-white palette with pops of red, and feature either city or river views. The corner rooms are the same size as the Art Panorama rooms (their most luxurious category) and can accommodate three adults, making them a good option for groups. There is a good fitness room and sauna, as well as a rooftop terrace that’s lovely in the summer.
This is quite simply one of the closest hotels to the Rudolfplatz “Bermuda Triangle” of gay bars: about 150m separate your room from one of the most vibrant gay scenes in Europe. It’s a no-frills, fairly old-fashioned hotel – don’t expect sleek design or fancy amenities. That said, the rooms are clean and comfortable, the staff are friendly, and the rates are very reasonable. Single, triple, and quadruple rooms are available, with the latter being particularly good value if you’re in a group. After all, chances are you won’t be spending too much of your nights in your room.
Hotel Lyskirchen has a fabulous Altstadt location right by the Rhine, with most of the gay venues in the area within a short 5-minute walk – Pullermanns, a long-running Cologne cruise club, is just around the block. The hotel’s rooms have been recently renovated and have a fresh, simple, minimalist feel in tones of white and cool grey. The compact Standard rooms (Single and Double available) offer great value, while the Superior rooms are more spacious. For a longer stay, the apartments with kitchenette are a fantastic option – note that, though there is a double bed and a sofa bed, the maximum occupancy is two adults. There is an indoor heated pool, a small gym with basic cardio and weights equipment, and a sauna.
25hours Hotel The Circle is the kind of hotel that Instagrammers dream of: with a sleek retro-futuristic concept and a spot-on millennial palette of pastels and greys, the rooms here were made to populate your feed. The rooms range from “Medium” to “Gigantic”, but intelligent open-plan layouts make them all feel spacious. All rooms have super-comfy beds, Bluetooth speakers, free minibar, and either bike or MINI (yes, the car) rental as standard. Facilities include a sauna, a deli, a trendy rooftop bar, a restaurant, a co-working area, and a record shop, all (of course) impeccably designed and impossibly cool. The hotel is located about a 10-minute walk from the Rudolfplatz gayborhood and less than 5 minutes from the closest tram station.