Sam Feller savours the delights of Sitges and writes for PinkNews of his joy at a gay holiday in the sun.
Sitges is a lively seaside resort located around 35km southwest of Barcelona, in the autonomous region of Catalonia. A popular gay destination since the 1990s, it is well-known around Europe for its beaches, restaurants and nightlife. Its population is around 25,000, but this quadruples in the summer as gay men and women from around Europe come to enjoy a Mediterranean getaway.
Getting there is easy. Barcelona El-Prat airport is just 20km away, and operates a direct bus service from Terminal 1 (MonBus). Alternatively, you can take the train from Terminal 2 and change in ‘El Prat de Llobregat’.
During our trip, we discovered the beautiful gay beaches in and around the town. Amongst the 17 beaches in Sitges, three of them are gay or gay-friendly: playa del muerto (gay nudist); playa de las balmins (mixed nudist; clothing optional) and playa de la bassa rodona (mostly straight when we were there; busiest in July / August). We found the most comfortable to be Playa de Las Balmins, which had beautiful, fine sand and a warm, clear sea in which to swim.
Although perhaps little-known to gay tourists, the town is also very popular with surfers, and there are good, sizeable waves a little distance from the shore when the southeasterly winds pick up. If you’re a beginner, there are a small number of independent training schools on the beach where you can learn the basics, and if you get peckish, there are a handful of laid-back beach cafés serving up surfer grub.
If you’re unlucky with the weather, Museu Cau Ferrat, Museu Maricel or Museu Romantic or the Church of Sant Bartomeu & Santa Tecla will keep your spirits up. Alternatively, hop on the coastal train to Barcelona, and visit Gaudi’s La Segrada Familia or the Museu Picasso, which will be sure to keep you interested throughout the day.
Sitges’ gastronomic delights do not fail to disappoint. During our stay, we had a fantastic tapas meal at the recently opened La Picara restaurant, where we treasured the delights of gulas (pasta fish) with garlic, baby artichokes with bacon and iberian ham, flambé prawns, huevos rotos (spanish broken eggs) and chanquetes (fried goby fish). This cute little restaurant – owned and operated by a lesbian couple from Chile – boasts a fantastic selection of local and seasonal wines, at a fraction of the price you’ll pay elsewhere.
The gay scene in Sitges is just as active as it’s ever been. The ubiquitous Parrots Group seems to own and operate most of the gay venues around town, including the Parrots Hotel and pub, Ruby’s terrace bar and the Organic dance club. Bars seem to fill and empty at different times during the evening, so just follow the crowd if you’re in search of the best party. One of the best independently owned and managed venues is Queenz, who have recently expanded from a single dance club to now include a cabaret-restaurant. Owned and operated by gay Dutch couple Adrian and Dick, here you can enjoy a sumptuous 3-course dinner followed by a fantastic cabaret performance from Kumas featuring kitsch dancing, camp singing and comedy sketches, for just €35 a head.
There’s plenty of accommodation in Sitges, catering to all budgets and tastes. If you’d rather stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and prefer a more laid-back vibe, try Hotel Estela, a 4-star art hotel opposite La Marina d’Aiguadolç. Built in 1992 for the summer Olympics, the hotel was rebranded as an art hotel following one artist’s surprise visit in 1993 and the journalistic interest that ensued. The hotel now features hundreds of well-known pieces from artists such as Moraga, Subirachs, Puigmartí and Gaudi, and boasts an outdoor swimming pool and garden with panoramic views out to sea.
If you’d rather stay at the heart of the action, try Hotel Alenti, a small 9-room hotel with restaurant with 9 rooms, located just moments from the beach and designed by world renowned architect Carlos Ferrater Lambarri and Lucía Ferrater. The rooms are super modern and surprisingly quiet, and the restaurant food proved delicious.
Rooms at Hotel Estela start at €74 / night.
Rooms at Hotel Alenti start at €67 / night.
British Airways operates a service from London Heathrow to Barcelona
forty-four times a week times a week. It also operates a service from London Gatwick to Barcelona fourteen times a week
The lead-in fare is from £137.70 return including taxes/fees/carrier
charges from Heathrow and £101.67 return including taxes/fees/carrier charges from Gatwick.
The hand baggage only fare is £117.70 return including taxes/fees/carrier
charges from Heathrow and £77.67 return including taxes/fees/carrier charges from Gatwick.
To book or for more information visit www.ba.com/Barcelona or call 0844 493 0787