Choosing where to stay is one of the most important decisions you make when planning your trip. The options are limitless, and your choice ranges from large resorts and hotel chains to small, boutique hotels or apartment rentals. You can also find gay-owned hotels in some places or even hotels designed for the LGBT community like gay-themed hotels or gay resorts.

While staying at a gay hotel might not be the preference for everyone, some travelers enjoy the open environment that Axel Hotels offers where you can simply relax be yourself. It’s true there are many gay-friendly hotels that are not necessarily gay-themed or designed for the LGBT community, but those properties simply can’t provide the same type of unique experience offered by Axel Hotels.

About Axel Hotels

Axel Hotels was founded in 2003 and is really the only major gay hotel chain in the world. Their hotels are mostly located in Europe, but they recently expanded to the US and Italy, and will soon expand to Portugal, Cuba and beyond.

The Axel Hotel vision is to offer a hotel aimed at the LGBT+ community. The spaces are cosmopolitan with a tolerant environment where diversity and respect are valued. The philosophy is a hotel chain for the entire LGBT+ community where two men, two women, a man and a woman or any type of customers are equally welcome, without prejudice to their sexual orientation. Axel Hotels is designed for the LGBT+ audience but is opened to everyone. In fact, Axel Hotels doesn’t define itself exactly as a gay hotel per se, but rather heterofriendly.

Why Stay at An Axel Hotel?

  1. Location – all Axel Hotels are well located within or near the cities’ gay neighborhood if they have one. And even if the city doesn’t have a ‘gayborhood,’ the properties are typically located in prime locations where you can easily visit the destination’s most popular attractions and gay nightlife.
  2. Parties and events – some locations host events or other parties and social gatherings at their properties. These activities might be offered to just guests or in some cases even to the local LGBT community in the destination.
  3. Be yourself – probably one of the most attractive parts about a gay hotel is the comfort zone. The entire hotel is full of LGBT guests and all staff has been extensively trained to provide you with a welcoming and gay-friendly experience. It’s a very open environment and one where you can relax and not worry about harassment or discrimination.

What Can You Expect if You Stay at an Axel Hotel?

Axel Hotels are properties where any guest, gay or straight is welcome to stay, but with the concept of offering a space designed for the LGBT community. You could bring a straight friend or even your grandma to one of these properties and you wouldn’t feel awkward. The concept is simply to create a welcoming environment for LGBT guests. Axel Hotels is gay-owned and operated and they promote respect and diversity, have non-discrimination policies as well as offer sensitivity training for their staff.

Axel Hotel Locations

Axel Hotels currently has properties in 7 cities: Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, Maspalomas, Ibiza, San Sebastian and Miami. The 3 most popular locations are listed below.

Axel Hotel Barcelona

Axel Hotel Barcelona is home to the first location which was opened in 2003. The property is located in the Eixample gay neighborhood, has 101 rooms and is one of our favorites, particularly the rooftop terrace. The hotel also has a gym as well as a bar and restaurant on the ground floor. Axel Hotel Barcelona hosts a variety of events throughout the year, particularly in the summer months, which is high season for Barcelona. Axel Hotel Barcelona is often fully booked during popular gay events like Barcelona Gay Pride and Circuit Festival. View our gay travel guide to Barcelona →

Axel Hotel Madrid

Axel Hotel Madrid was opened in 2017 and is located in the Barrio de las Letras neighborhood, about a 10-minute walk to Chueca, Madrid’s gay neighborhood. It has 88 rooms, a rooftop terrace with pool, gym as well as a bar and restaurant on the ground floor. Axel Hotel Madrid is often fully booked during events like Madrid Gay Pride as well as other gay festivals like MADBear, Sleazy Madrid and WE New Year’s Festival. View our gay travel guide to Madrid →

Axel Hotel Berlin

Axel Hotel Berlin is located in Schöneberg, which is the heart of the gay scene in Berlin. The hotel was opened in 2009 and has 87 rooms decorated in a unique black and gold style. The property has a rooftop Jacuzzi, gym as well as a bar and restaurant on the ground floor.  Axel Hotel Berlin is often fully booked during popular gay events like Berlin Gay Pride, Folsom Berlin and SNAX. We actually prefer the 2nd location TWO Hotel Berlin by Axel, which also happens to have better reviews. View our gay travel guide to Berlin →

Is Axel Hotels Right for You?

Here are a few things to consider if staying at a gay hotel interests you.

  • The hotel will be almost exclusively LGBT guests
  • An Axel Hotel location may not be available in the city you’re visiting
  • You won’t earn points from loyalty programs like would from staying at a large chain like Marriott or Hilton
  • If you visit a city during gay pride, a popular gay event or before or after a gay cruise, rooms at Axel Hotels get booked well in advance, so you’ll need to plan ahead
  • Axel Hotels are a great option if you’re traveling with your same-sex partner and you won’t have any issues with public displays of affection

Our Review

We’ve stayed at an Axel Hotel in Barcelona, Maspalomas, Ibiza, Berlin and Miami and really enjoyed our stay. In fact, we love both Madrid and Barcelona for their rooftop terraces called the SkyBar, along with a pool and great city views. The Miami South Beach location was opened in 2020 and is located a block away from the beach, in the heart of South Beach in Miami’s Art Deco district. The Ibiza property is probably our favorite as it overlooks the beautiful bay of San Antonio. It's definitely worth upgrading for the suite in Ibiza—the views of the bar are out of this world! We’ve also stayed at the original property in Berlin.  The rooms there are painted black which makes it a bit difficult to see, particularly in the bathroom. If you’re visiting Berlin, we’d recommend you actually stay at their second property, TWO Barcelona instead. Every stay we’ve had at Axel Hotels has been enjoyable and the staff is always friendly and helpful.

Interested in staying with a gay host in an apartment rental?

Founded in 2014, misterb&b is not a hotel or chain, but rather a booking site for rooms, apartments and homes. Similar to AirBnB, misterb&b is an online service that allows you to rent short- or long-term spaces from gay and gay-friendly hosts around the world. They have hosts in more than 135 countries with more than 200,000 total listings. They recently even started offering listings of gay and gay-friendly hotels on their site for a one-stop-shop. You can even list your own room or apartment to earn cash from gay travelers in your city. Understanding a city’s gay scene is much more easily done with the help of a local and apartment sharing is one of the best ways to meet someone living in the city who knows the best insider advice.

Image credits: Axel Hotels