How To Search for Queer-Friendly Accommodation
When we think about going on holiday, the initial thought is usually excitement, plus the fact that we get to pack our bags full of our favourite holiday essentials. We get to the airport, smell that burning tarmac on the runway, and know it’s time to switch off. However, things aren’t always this simple for everybody, especially people like myself, who are in the LGBTQ+ community.
I am a Black, non-binary, queer person/lesbian who is lucky enough to be engaged to the most beautiful lady in the world (maybe a tad biased here). However, as a lesbian interracial couple, our travelling experience can be different from the “average” couple out there. Myself and my partner love to travel but when I say our experience is different what I mean is that the spontaneous element of travel is sometimes taken away. We can’t just open our laptops and book somewhere; first, we need to do extensive research on the country we’re going to for our safety, as well as asking ourselves: Is the accommodation LGBTQ+ friendly? Am I going to feel comfortable as a brown-skinned gender-nonconforming person travelling with my white partner?
Travelling to new countries has always been one of my passions, to get in with a new culture, meet people and have a taste of day-to-day life, creating memories along the way, and I’ve been lucky enough to travel to over 37 countries. But with all of that travelling has come difficulties. Not every hotel and their policy has been welcoming. This experience brings me to share some information on how to find accommodation that is LGBTQ+ friendly. The process of doing this research can be anxious and tiring. Having to ask questions like ‘will the hotel staff be kind to us? ’isn’t always fun. But it is important when it comes to taking care and having a good time.
So, here’s some advice for being extra careful when booking LGBTQ+ friendly accommodation.
Firstly, let’s talk about my number one accommodation booking site, which not only provides entire houses but you can rent a room and even search for an experience. The company has improved tremendously over the years in terms of its inclusivity when searching for your perfect holiday getaway. They now have the option to use their LGBTQ+ friendly tag, so you can assure that the property you're opting for is safe for you and your party. Make sure to use it every time you search.
Another big plus for me with Air BnB is that the hosts are verified with passports and our safety is accounted for in that respect. But look at your host’s ratings and have a nose at their profile, too; you’ll find their hobbies, previous reviews, etc. – giving you a gauge of what their attitudes or the space they are renting might be like. I like to interact with the host before I book via message just to make sure that the energy will be right on arrival, as well as looking out specifically for reviews from LGBTQ+ people who have visited before.
When you’re looking for hotels that are LGBTQ+ friendly, bigger chains like Hilton or Marriot should have global standards for their staff, so might be a safe bet when you’re in doubt of where to stay. You can also ask friends of friends for recs, Google the city’s gayborhood.
Next, I always check reviews on the accommodation I’m looking at, do in-depth searches and research. I also use trusted sites such as gaytravel.com and booking.com to see if they feature the accommodation I’m considering, and have communicated with both platforms regarding information on accommodation. Always check the reviews on these platforms as they have certain requirements which help authenticate reviews; then finally, always go to trustpilot.com to check if any negative or alarming reviews pop up, as reviews there are authentic and verified (to avoid people or bots giving false reviews, which could leave an LGBTQ+ person in danger).
Friendly hotels should be proud to list their LGBTQ+ inclusion, so check the accommodation’s own website. You can also look at the language, extra inclusive places shouldn’t only offer “his” and “her” experiences. Check their reviews; How long ago was the last one? Are any of the reviews by LGBTQ+ people? Do they seem genuine?
When travelling to some countries, I have also contacted the accommodation’s customer service and asked outright the questions I need to know for our safety, like: Do they have any LGBTQ+ staff? Are they welcoming to queer people? Never be ashamed or afraid to ask certain questions to feel secure and to ensure you’re not just being told ‘what you want to hear’. This might sound time-consuming, or extreme, but the safety of myself and the people I’m travelling with is of the utmost importance when going somewhere foreign to us. Taking the time can mean that you feel your environment is more inclusive instantly. Work now means fun later.
Now that’s done, here are three of my favourite LGBTQ+ friendly and safe accommodations and destinations:
Mango Bay Resort, in Fiji: If you fancy an island vacation, this beautiful yet inclusive resort was great. There were four of us staying here, and we could kiss, hold hands, just be us. The resort assured us friendly, warm, vibes and that’s exactly what we got. Also, the people of the island were lovely and welcoming.
The Prince Hotel, Melbourne: If you want to get off to the other side of the world, and connect with a completely new culture, this hotel was perfect and gay all the way. It’s attached to a gay bar so you instantly feel at home, especially if you like a vibrant, lively outgoing atmosphere.
The Hollywood Roosevelt, Hollywood Los Angeles: If you fancy being in the heart of the city, in close proximity to retail therapy somewhere you can also relax by the pool, The Roosevelt provides the perfect location, as well as regular pool parties.