Rotterdam does not have a vibrant gay nightlife. That being said, you’ll be surprised how welcome you (and your partner) will feel in the city that welcomes people of any kind! Here you won’t have to advertise your gay identity to be yourself. As they say in the lively harbourcity ‘you’re crazy enough just the way you are’.
Gay during the day
As the second city of The Netherlands, Rotterdam is the perfect getaway when you don’t like the tourist-trap capital Amsterdam. Rotterdam is the city that is internationally famous for it’s festivals. Musiclovers will love the renowned North Sea Jazz-festival (Pharell Williams and Outkast are confirmed for the 2014-edition) and movie-addicts probably don’t want to miss the International Film Festival. Architecture and museums are conveniently located in and around the citycenter. The fact that the city hasn’t got a real hardcore gayscene doesn’t mean you will be stuck in a closeted city. Being gay is ok anywhere in Rotterdam. However, there are some places that attract more gays than others. (I’ll get to the ‘real gay’ places later on.) Go to Nostra for lunch, have late-afternoon drinks at L’Ouest or drink your morning-coffee at UEB West. If you have no idea at what time you will wake-up, hangout at NRC anytime of the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner or low-key-clubbing in the basement. If you appreciate good wine, go to winebars Het Eigendom or Janssen & Van Dijk. And just in case you forgot to bring your gay-necessities you can find all you need at Gay Toys. Condoms are available at any supermarket and drugstore, pretty much like anywhere else in Holland. If you really can’t hold yourself and want to visit an erotic cinema, maybe Cano is your kind of thing.
Gay Bars Rotterdam
If you are visiting Rotterdam for the very first time, it will take som time to find the gay places. If there would be one gay-street in Rotterdam, it would be the ‘Van Oldenbarneveldstraat’. Here you will find De Regenboog (“rainbow”) – a partycafé with sing-along popular and campy music. Two doors next to it Strano is the place for gays that love to move their hips on the beat of top 40-hits. Other gaybars are to be found close to this street: Loge 90 (attracts an older crowd, but very popular on sunday afternoon), café Apollo (only 30-), De Flierefluiter (open since 2013) and the infamous bar de Keerweer (most likely the bar where you will end your night when you’re drunk). Bar Cosmo and Bonaparte are visited by those who will never admit it. If you want to meet the most exciting creatures of the night, go there and God bless you!
Gay Nightlife & Gay Clubs
Rotterdam is home to a lot of small clubs, bars and restaurants that will convert into a club at night. Large discos and clubs where guys take off their shirts and do drugs all night, are not to be found in Rotterdam. Coffeeshops for smoking and buying weed are legal and you can find them anywhere: they even look like normal bars. But other than that, Rotterdam is pretty cool to enjoy without drugs. Most parties have a mixed crowd: gay and straight perfectly blend in, with their love for a certain kind of music in common. These parties are good to checkout: Hello Sailor, Gay Bar, Herr Zimmerman, Now & Wow Fest en Pink Clinic. Popular (mixed) clubs are Perron, Toffler, Maassilo en Blender. The only real gay clubs in Rotterdam is called Why and will (re-)open in april 2014 after is has been called Gay Palace for 30 years. Popular bars for a mixed crowd are LaBru en de Witte Aap.
Gay Cruising Rotterdam
Sauna Spartacus is the only bath that is open 7 days a week. During weekends it’s open 24/7. Sauna Finland is another gay-bathhouse located at the southside of the river (take the tunnel near the Euromast). The Moods is a cruisebar that is not exclusively gay. Check the calendar for more info on the gay-days or visit the club at any other day if you want to broaden your horizon. Are you more an outdoor-kinda-guy, take a car to Kralingse Bos. This large city park has a cruising-area at the northeastern part of the park. You will easily recognize this area by the amount of cars that is parking there. A bit more dangerous, but known pick-up place is close to Central Station: Provenierssingel is just around the corner at the north-side. Grindr and Gayromeo are the most popular cruise-apps in Rotterdam. Some advice for chatting with guys here: be straight forward in what you are looking for, whether that is sex or a tourguide. Guys can become easily irritated if you keep chatting and chatting without any action. This city is straightforward and you will know it.
Rotterdam is considered to be a raw and rough in a good way. It’s a rough diamond, that is mentioned as popular city by Rough Guides and New York Times. You will discover that the people living here are friendly and sincere. If they say they like you, they honestly do. ‘Rotterdammers’ are eager to show you the way and since they all speak at least 2 languages fluent, they will probably give you some advice on where to go for dinner too.
Gay hotels in Rotterdam
Gaycouples are welcome anywhere in the city, though walking hand-in-hand can be considered a provocation. So do so if you feel like it, but don’t make it a religion. If you want to stay in a nice hotel, read my article (in Dutch, but you’ll get the impression) de leukste hotels in Rotterdam.