Living la movida gay
Madrid's Chueca district is one of the gayest neighborhoods in the world, having become more than a gayborhood -- it's a lifestyle.
It is home to dozens of trendy shops and gay bars, and it's also where many of the straight locals and tourists choose to hang out too.
This is such a gay city that even its straightest clubs will have a certain gay influence, with many of them hosting gay nights and being mixed throughout the week.
Plaza Chueca is where everyone meets, and from there the destination can be a lively café or a sauna in the afternoon, before dinner very late in the evening.
The bars and clubs you'll choose to go to after that will depend on your taste and mood, and a friendly local will point you in the right direction. We've also selected a number of hotspots for you to choose from, but you'll see others in the pages of the free gay publications found around Chueca. Still, be assured that if you take our advice you're guaranteed the best gay Madrid experience:
ACUARELA - C/ de Gravina 10
This comfortable cafe has an attractive kitsch décor in a small space where you can sit by the window to watch the world outside or admire the art on the walls around you. It's located around the corner from Plaza de Chueca, so naturally the largest percentage of everyone here will be gay and lesbian.
Mama Inés Cafe
During daylight hours, this is the café to go for coffee, tea, fruit juices, and cakes. It has an attractive décor, around which you can sit chatting with friends or be by yourself reading a periodical. While mostly mixed throughout the day, at night it becomes predominantly gay.
CAFÉ FIGUEROA - C/ Augusto Figueroa 17
This decades-old café attracts a diverse crowd, but it's predominantly gay and lesbian on most days. It's one of Madrid's most popular meeting points for drinks and a chat at night, although the afternoon is the best time to go, when it's quieter and more relaxing.
Like older guys? You'll see plenty of over-40s here along with some funny-looking drag queens lip-synching to gay anthems. In the end though, this is just a good old "bar de copas," a place for drinks in late afternoon.
RICKS - C/ Clavel, 8
This is a must on any Madrid visit, a bar/club where seemingly every gay man in town passes by. The music seems to please everyone, and the exotic North African décor too. There's also a pool table used as another excuse to start a conversation.
Black & White
Groups of men of all ages and styles segregate themselves at this legendary gay bar --the older crowd tends to gather upstairs by the semi-circular bar as the softer music allows for conversation, while the younger boys are dancing to techno and house on the dance floor downstairs.
Liquid calls itself a "music video bar," and it is indeed a great place to start the night to the sound of pop videos. It's a dark space that gets packed every weekend, when you have to squeeze your way through the crowd to get to the bar and a drink.
This trendy bar should not be missed if you're after a great cocktail. It's not exclusively gay - you'll see as many fashionable heterosexuals as you will gay guys - everyone comes here for some of the city's best DJ acts and drinks.
This space has different names, depending on the day of the week. On weekdays it's Bash Line, officially a straight club (although always mixed) where those in their late 20s to 30s dance to house, funk, or garage music. On Fridays and Saturdays it turns into Ohm, where trendy gay guys fill the dance floor moving to the latest dance tracks. On Sundays it's called Week-End for a calmer night before the week starts a few hours later.
Space of Sound
This big club is where you should head to on Sundays. It's located on the second floor of the Chamartín train station, where the gogo boys move along with you to the DJ's dance selections.
You don't have to wait for the weekend to drool over hot go go boys because you'll find them here on every day of the week. This is a fun gay club opening late in the evening, where you can party until the sun rises.
SAUNA OCTOPUS - C/ de Churruca, 10
This is the sauna that attracts the youngest crowd, and perhaps as a result it's one of the city's most popular. Go for the sauna, or choose the large pool and jacuzzi instead.
SAUNA PARAISO - C/ del Norte, 15
If you're looking for a clean sauna with a Spanish ambience, this is the one to go. It's an attractive space with brick walls where you'll find a helpful staff that does speak English.
Refined Mediterranean and European cuisine is the specialty at this gay-friendly restaurant, highly recommended for a cosier or romantic dinner for two. It was one of the first "gay restaurants" in Madrid and it's still among the best.
Divina la Cocina
This restaurant has been keeping its mostly gay clientele satisfied with its delicious contemporary European cuisine for over a decade. The desserts are especially divine.
MEDEA - C/ Cabeza 33
This is Madrid's oldest lesbian club, attracting the girls to its large dance floor where they move to a wide range of tracks. The best time to go is past 1AM.
TRUCO - C/ Gravina 10
Madrid's lesbians gather at this bar at any time of the day, especially in good weather when sitting at a table outside is the place to be.
Gay Hotel Puerta del Sol
Hostal Gay Pizarro
Gran Melia Fenix