Booking.com shares 5 LGBTQ+ Friendly Destinations to Enjoy a Romantic Getaway this Valentine’s Day
The term ‘travel’ and its connotations should denote adventure, freedom and enjoyment. Yet for many LGBTQ+ travelers around the world, the reality can often paint a very different picture, with recent research revealing that more than four fifths (72%) of American LGBTQ+ travelers have experienced less than welcoming, or uncomfortable, experiences when traveling.* With its mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, regardless of who they love or how they identify, Booking.com is sharing five LGBTQ+ friendly romantic destinations around the world to celebrate Valentine’s Day this February 14. From a romantic wine retreat in Bordeaux to a thriving LGBTQ+ scene in Sydney, the destinations are based on recommendations from Booking.com travelers,** and the properties featured all have a Booking.com Travel Proud certificate ensure that a truly welcoming stay awaits.
Set in the picturesque mountains in southern Brazil, the pretty resort town of Gramado with its alpine vibes is the perfect scenic escape for those seeking a romantic vacation. Couples can enjoy a pedalo boat trip on Lago Negro, an attractive lake surrounded by vibrant hydrangeas and crowded with swan boats, or explore the flora and fauna at Le Jardin Parque de Lavanda, a manicured park with many species of lavender and plants. According to local travelers, a tour at Maria Fumaça is also highly recommended***, jump on a classic train and stop at different vineyards to learn more about local grape plantations and, of course, to taste some incredible wines. The town holds an annual LGBT conference which welcomes businesses across the town to discuss LGBTQ+ tourism and enhancing the experience for the community. Mingle with the friendly locals with an evening trip to Rua Coberta is recommended: a charming covered walkway with an array of shops, live music and restaurants where travelers can sample delicious dishes made for sharing from the popular cheese fondue to pastel (a deep-fried stuffed pastry) and sweet treats such as créme de papaya (papaya blended with vanilla ice cream drizzled with créme de cassis).
Where to stay: The Modevie Boutique Hotel is the perfect choice for a romantic getaway. Rooms are contemporary and feature a balcony overlooking the city, a fireplace for cozy nights in and a hot tub if visitors opt for a suite. Guests can take advantage of the spa and unwind with a couples massage, or arrange for bespoke room decorations and extras from rose petals and balloons to champagne and truffles for that special romantic touch.
Couples who enjoy wine together will relish a romantic retreat to Bordeaux in south-west France. It’s no surprise that this famed wine-growing region features as a top endorsed city by Booking.com travelers, boasting over 7,000 winemakers and some of the oldest, sun-drenched vineyards in the world. Couples can opt for a Half-day Guided Wine Tour of Saint-Émilion to learn about the history of this medieval village, which is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site, and taste some of the region’s sumptuous wine before heading back to Bordeaux. In this port city on the River Garonne, couples can wander down tree-shaded boulevards lined with mansions built for 19th century wine merchants, and admire the world-class romantic architecture, from grand palaces to stone sculptures. Couples who want to explore the city’s nightlife should head to one of the popular LGBTQ+ friendly bars in the city, Le Trou Duck or Coco Loko.
Where to stay: Bed down at the charming Maison Fernand B&B nestled in the heart of historical Bordeaux. Tastefully decorated with contemporary furnishings and a clever pop of color in each room, this guesthouse provides a real home away from home feel. The hosts are welcoming and more than happy to provide itinerary suggestions, or arrange extras such as fresh flowers or a bottle of red wine and charcuterie board for a romantic evening. From working with local suppliers to providing organic, natural cosmetics, the property's environmental efforts has also earned it a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge.
Sydney is famed for its breathtaking harbor, popular Bondi beach and thriving LGBTQ+ scene, perfect for couples seeking an upbeat Valentine’s escape. Thrill seekers can sign up for a Beginner's Surf Lesson at Bondi Beach and see who can master the waves the best on this two-hour course. Or, for those looking for a more relaxing experience, book a Private Sydney Foreshores and Beaches SUV Tour, where travelers will drive past the city’s iconic landmarks including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, before heading to lesser known coastal regions including Palm Beach and West Head. Travelers should be sure to check out the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which takes place between February 17 and March 5 2023. The festival celebrates over 300 events spanning performing arts, comedy, colorful parades and legendary performances and, this year, is incorporated into Sydney WorldPride 2023, and set to be the biggest yet!
Where to stay: Situated close to the Mardi Gras action and Bondi beach is Booking.com’s Travel Proud and Travel Sustainable property Adina Apartment Hotel Chippendale. This friendly hotel is a peaceful oasis in the city, with modern décor and touches of Mediterranean design including terrazzo tiles. It is also committed to providing guests with a more sustainable stay, from reducing food waste to banning single-use plastics. Couples are recommended to opt for a room with a terrace, where they can enjoy a romantic evening overlooking the leafy courtyard and outdoor plunge pool together.
Perched in the north of Spain, Bilbao is an art lover’s dream with beautiful landmarks in every corner and stunning landscapes fringed with rolling green hills. One of the great treasures of the Basque Country, this vibrant riverside city has a bustling LGBTQ+ scene with an array of gay bars and clubs open all year round, and is a hub of architecture and design with its spectacular cathedrals, neo-baroque theater, contemporary Zubizuri Bridge and striking Guggenheim Museum, also highly recommended to visit by local travelers***. Be sure to book a Guggenheim Museum Guided Tour to view modern masterpieces by Spanish and international artists, and the two iconic sculptures that flank the titanium museum – a giant metal spider and flower-laden puppy. For the 51% of US LGBTQ+ travelers who want to take in the sights,* a tour of the coastline on a Getxo Bike Tour with Pintxo and Drink to explore different UNESCO World Heritage sites and unique landscapes is recommended. Or, end the evening on a high with a Guided Tour by Night, where couples can ride a cable car to admire the views from above, ahead of venturing through the cobbled streets and plazas that dot the pretty old town.
Where to stay: The Hotel Ilunion San Mamés takes inspiration from its surroundings with a striking red design and sleek, modern interiors. Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet before enjoying the nearby attractions including Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and the charming Dona Casilda Park. In addition to being Travel Proud certified, this accommodating hotel holds a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge thanks to its efforts in making stays more sustainable from reducing food waste to using renewable electricity. For couples looking to explore the nightlife, head to the nearby Badulake bar and theatre where drag shows and cabarets regularly take place.
The bustling capital city of Taipei is situated in the north of Taiwan and known for its tall skyscrapers and flourishing culture. It’s also highly endorsed for gourmet food, perfect for couples seeking a food-fueled getaway and the 47% of American LGBTQ+ travelers who want to explore new foods on their next adventure.* Travelers can head to the Raohe Night Market, a quintessential part of Taiwanese culture, and sample local delicacies at one of the many stalls: try freshly cooked pork pepper buns, fried Taro dumplings (deep fried dim sum with shrimp and pork seasoned with oyster sauce) or Mochi ice cream (soft, chewy rice cakes with an ice cream center). One of the most liberal cities in Asia, the LGBTQ+ scene has exploded here in recent years and travelers from all over the world flock to Taipei for the nightlife and friendly locals. Couples can stroll hand-in-hand along the Songshan Rainbow Bridge, a suspension bridge that changes color in the evening with sweeping river views, and strike a pose in front of the iconic ‘love’ sign along the riverbank. For those couples looking for a bit more adventure, just a 45 minute drive away from the city sits the beautiful Long Dong (Dragon Cave), and according to local travelers it’s perfect for rock-climbing***.
Where to stay: A short distance from the Raohe Night Market is the sumptuous and modern Humble Boutique Hotel. Couples can enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool before starting their day, or relax and unwind in the steam room and sauna following a day of exploring. The onsite BeGood restaurant serves delicious dishes such as red gully sashimi with octopus sauce and succulent steak with roasted potatoes. As well as being a Travel Proud certified property, the hotel is recognized with a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge for its sustainability efforts, with environmentally friendly measures such as recycling and a ban on single-use plastics.
For travelers looking for a romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day, Booking.com is sharing Early 2023 Deals to start the new year with new adventures. Discounts start at 15 percent at participating properties indicated by the “Early 2023 Deals” badge, and are valid for stays with check-in from January 1 2023 and check-out on or before March 31 2023. In addition, Booking.com is giving travelers around the world the keys to unlock a new level of additional perks with the introduction of a third tier to its Genius loyalty program. Designed to make every trip a better experience, Booking.com’s loyalty program is completely free, easily accessible and membership lasts a lifetime – travelers simply need to create an account to achieve Genius status for life. As Genius members unlock new levels, they get access to larger discounts and more travel rewards that never expire. All travelers have to do is sign into their Booking.com account and look for the Genius logo to identify benefits, discounts and perks.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 5,514 LGBTQ+ travelers from Argentina (100), Australia (300), Belgium (100), Brazil (250), Canada (402), Colombia (150), Croatia (101), Denmark (100), France (500), Germany (502), Hong Kong (100), India (201), Israel (101), Italy (300), Japan (200), Mexico (151), Netherlands (250), New Zealand (100), Spain (200), Sweden (102), Taiwan (100), Thailand (100), United Kingdom (502), United States (502), Vietnam (100). The survey was taken online and took place in April & May 2022.
**Endorsement data from Booking.com based on the most recommended and relevant destinations by global travelers for romantic escapes, gourmet food, beach, modern art and wine travel
***Based on local travelers input from Booking.com’s Travel Communities who have visited the destination in the past.