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Gay Bars in Brighton

You may be surprised to learn that Brighton has actually been a gay haven for more than 100 years, with regular visitors including gay icons Noel Coward and Ivor Novello. However in those days the scene was secretive and separate from the rest of society.

From the 1960s onwards though, the gay scene really took off and firmly established itself among the streets in Kemptown – now often referred to as ‘Camptown’!

Today more than 25,000 gay men and around 15,000 lesbians live in the city, making it the most vibrant gay community in the country outside London.

There are numerous gay and gay-friendly establishments throughout the city, particularly around St James’ Street in Kemptown, where you’ll find Scene 22 [map] a gay café, shop and information centre all rolled into one.

Although Scene 22 caters for everyone whether they are gay or straight, most of the customers here are from the lesbian and gay community. Situated above hip pub, Zanzibar, this place offers the usual coffees, teas, cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes, as well as selling cards, calendars, magazines and clothing. You can also pick up maps of the gay bars, leave messages on the bulletin board and make hotel bookings.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, there are a number of gay-friendly hotels and B&Bs around the Kemptown area. The most famous of them all is probably The Amsterdam [map] on Marine Parade, which is located close to Brighton Pier. Here you’ll find a hotel and sauna as well as a bar and large seafront terrace.

With spacious, minimalist hotel rooms, plenty of cocktails and bottled beer in the bar as well as a popular sauna, this is the busiest place in Brighton and certainly the place to be seen.

Another hotel well worth considering is the Brighton Hotel [map] on Kings Road which is ideally placed on the seafront, only minutes away from the main shopping area and many tourist attractions. The elegant lounge and restaurant are spacious and offer outstanding views of the sea, whilst all bedrooms are en suite and have a television, hospitality tray, hairdryer and trouser press.

Claremount House Hotel [map] offers more gay-friendly accommodation in an elegant Victorian villa near the sea, while Millards Hotel [map] in Kemptown is reputedly Brighton’s best gay hotel.

If you fancy a gay shopping spree during your stay in the city then head to St James’ Street where you’ll find an array of stores including Cardome [map] which has an unusual selection of cards, as well as gay magazines, videos, posters, books and novelty items.

A few doors down is Clone Zone [map], which is part of the largest chain of gay shops in Europe (other UK outlets can be found in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth and London). They also have a mail order section via post and the Internet at www.clonezone.co.uk and last year launched the Manzone magazine.

You cannot visit Brighton without checking out the city’s beaches, the main one being West Beach between the two piers where all the beautiful people tend to hang out.

There is also an official nudist beach, which gets very busy and is popular with the gay crowd as it is only 15 minutes walk from the Village.

For a mainly gay and very quiet beach then head to Telscombe Cliffs [map], Brighton’s unofficial nudist beach. Access is via a footpath close to the Badgers Watch pub, but please note that swimming here can be hazardous due to rocks and rock pools.

The city also has a number of public saunas for your enjoyment including the Brighton Oasis Sauna [map] on Grand Parade, which is deemed to be Brighton’s largest gay sauna. Along with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, two saunas and a steam room, you’ll also find rest rooms, a video room, fun room, massage rooms and sunbeds here.

If you’re into sport then why not contact the Brighton Lesbian and Gay Sports Society [map], which holds regular squash, badminton, tennis and sailing groups and is always looking for new members.

Of course no trip to Brighton would be complete without a night out around the Gay Village. For detailed information on the city’s gay bars click here or read on for clubbing information.

There are a number of gay nightclubs in Brighton and many straight clubs hold gay nights such as Wild Fruit [map] at Creation, the city's longest running gay dance extravaganza.

The biggest gay club on the south coast is Club Revenge [map] on Old Steine in the heart of the Gay Village, where you are sure to want to dance the night away.

Pool Club [map] on Marine Parade and Secrets [map] on Steine Street are also popular with the cool and trendy gay crowd and their straight friends.

Lesbians looking for some women-only action should try Candy Bar [map] on St James Street, a stylish women's café-bar that has various themed nights and live music.

If you need gay advice or information during your stay in the city then telephone the Brighton Gay and Lesbian Switchboard on 01273 204050, a confidential support line.

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