Whenever someone brings a new hotel to the attention of gay Thailand forum readers, at least one poster will quickly ask if the hotel is gay friendly. Which just goes to show you, despite what you’ve heard, there are in fact dumb questions. And poorly worded ones, too.
All hotels in Thailand are gay friendly, if the opposite of that phrase is anti-gay. A gay couple checking into any hotel in Thailand will be treated as would any other customers, graciously smiled at, often ignored. You may be the only gay duo in residence and feel uncomfortable being stared at during the free breakfast buffet, but that’s your problem, not the hotel’s. You cash will be warmly welcomed regardless of your preference in sexual partners.
More often when someone asks if a hotel is gay friendly, they mean joiner friendly: is it okay to bring back your boy d’ jour for a night of fun. Whether or not a hotel allows guests to bring home a guest, or whether or not they charge a pimp joiner fee has nothing to do with the guest being gay. Their policy will be the same for the straight touri carting home a lady of the evening or a boy who is a lady for the evening. You may feel even more uncomfortable the next morning if you’re the only guest at breakfast providing a free meal to a whore. But again: your problem, not the hotel’s.
I’ve stayed at dozens of hotels in Thailand. Sometimes I check in with another dude. Sometimes I have a new friend join me for the night. Other times, after a day or two in residence, I have another guy join me for the rest of my stay. I’ve never had a problem or seen so much as an eyebrow raised. The closest I’ve ever experienced to a ‘problem’ was checking in to The Oriental with my straight buddy Dave. The registration procedure went smoothly but when we got to the room there was a single king size bed. Not a real problem, Dave and I travel a lot together and have shared a bed many times in the past. He’s lived through it every time. So far. He did object a bit though to the staff’s assumption he wasn’t a male.
After check in, in the room there is a small booklet welcoming you to the hotel and offering information about the facilities available to guests. A nice touch is that it is personalized; they write your name on the introduction page. In this case it listed my name first, as a Mr., and his second as a Ms. I found it much more amusing than Dave did.
Of course there are hotels that specifically cater to the gay crowd, like the Tarntawan Place Hotel in Bangkok. Dave and I have stayed there too. A lot of first time visitors to Thailand stay at a ‘gay’ hotel assuming they’ll be among their own kind. But none of these places discriminate against breeders any more so than another would against gays. So while you may not be the only old farang/young Thai stud couple at breakfast, don’t be surprised to see straight couples and families, too. Though in this case, they may be the uncomfortable diners.
Many hotels in pursuit of the pink dollar list themselves on internet booking sites as gay friendly. If a check mark is all that is necessary to bring in a few more bucks, then ‘gay friendly’ they are. But recently a group of hotels has begun a new program among their members that moves their welcoming to the gay world up a few notches. The Preferred Hotel Group, made up of more than 800 independently owned properties worldwide, including the Dusit properties in Thailand, and both the Landmark and Lebua State Tower in Bangkok, is rolling out a program to help its members welcome gay guests. Currently 100 hotels are part of the program — called Preferred Pride — though none of the Thailand properties have yet registered for the program.
To qualify, Preferred conducts diversity training at the hotels on the needs of the gay traveler and works with an employee at each participating hotel who will ensure that gay guests are satisfied with their stay. Employees are suggested, for example, to ask same-sex couples checking in together if they prefer one king bed or two double ones, if they haven’t made a preference in advance. Rooms are stocked with publications aimed at gay readers. If two men are traveling together, the bathroom has extra toiletries for men and two sets of large robes and slippers. And the concierge has a list of gay-friendly bars, clubs, and restaurants on hand.
I hope their program is a success and that more hotel chains, groups, and associations will offer similar programs in the future. I like to support businesses that support my choice of life-style, but have found in the past the ‘gay’ hotels offer little besides lip service, and then charge a lot more for that effort. Nice that at least one hotel group is making an honest attempt in welcoming its gay guests.
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