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Gay Manchester: guide to the best gay bars, clubs, hotels and more

Stefan Arestis
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My coming out story started out in the late 1990s when the British Queer as Folk version first aired on our screens. Back then, a confused and extremely repressed young teenage Stefan watched in awe as 3 gay blokes, Stuart, Vince and Nathan, went about their daily lives in Manchester's Canal Street Gay Village.

I was flabbergasted! Stunned!

This was the first time I had ever seen “normal” gay guys popularised on screen. It was also the first time I had ever seen gay urban life dramatised in such a way that it felt so real! Finally, that “feeling” that up until this point I had been forced to suppress by the society around me was, in fact, something totally natural. What a relief! I wasn't ill or abnormal. I was in fact part of a large LGBTQ family that also felt the same way. As that young teenage Stefan continued to watch Queer As Folk, he also dreamed: maybe, just maybe, I could grow up and be just like Stuart, Vince and Nathan living so freely in the gay streets of Manchester…

Fast forward a few decades and I'm galavanting down those same historic gay streets, with Seby to hand, together exploring one of the coolest and most progressive places in Europe.

I will always love Manchester!

As well as having a special place in my big gay heart, it has an exciting gay scene, one of the best gay Pride events in the UK and is one of the few places in the world where I feel comfortable walking the streets holding hands with my Seby. It's also super close to London (just 2 hours by train), which makes it ideal for a weekend trip.

This is our detailed gay guide to Manchester following our many city getaways here including the best gay friendly hotels to stay, our summary of the top bars/clubs to check out, some inspiration for the best things to do, and lots more.

Get a taste of Manchester's gay nightlife on a fun Gaily tour

Discover the gay scene of Manchester with a local

The Canal Street gay scene has quite a large number of places to check out that it can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers. For this reason, we recommend doing the Gaily night tour because it's a quick way to navigate the gay bars with a (cute!) local leading the way, as well as instantly making new friends.

Find out more

Is Manchester a safe city for gay travellers?

Absolutely, yes! For so many reasons.

For starters, Manchester has a young, friendly and open-minded vibe due to its large student population. With over 100,000 students spread over its 5 universities, they make up around one-fifth of the city's entire population. In addition, Manchester has historically maintained a very strong left-wing anti-aristocratic sentiment. This is where Emmeline Pankhurst started the movement for UK women's right to vote in the 1920s and where famous gay WW2 national hero Alan Turing is from.

In relation to LGBTQ rights in the UK, they are one of the most advanced and progressive, easily making the UK one of the most gay friendly countries in the world. For example, gay marriage laws (civil and religious) were introduced in 2014, there is a very comprehensive set of anti-discrimination laws, LGBTQ people are openly allowed to serve in the military and the right to change legal gender is fully recognised.

Perhaps what speaks volumes about how gay friendly England is: from September 2020 it was compulsory for all schools to teach pupils that different families and identities exist. In short, a generation of schoolchildren will grow up knowing it's ok to be LGBTQ. And nowhere is this feeling of acceptance, tolerance and open-mindedness better expressed than in Manchester!

Manchester is very gay friendly and even features gay street artwork
If it's good enough for Batman and Superman then it's good enough for us! This is one of the most iconic street art murals you'll see in Canal Street

Manchester gay village: Canal Street

Manchester gay village Canal Street sign

Canal Street is the heart of Manchester's gay village. This pedestrianised street runs along the Rochdale Canal, minutes walking distance from the city's main train station: Manchester Piccadilly

The Canal Street Gay Village of Manchester is compact with loads of gay bars and clubs.

Queer of Folk fans (like me!) will no doubt recognise the area as this is where Stuart, Vince and Nathan prowled the streets on their nights out.

Most of the gay bars and clubs of Manchester are based along Canal Street and also in the few streets surrounding it. Friday and Saturday nights are the best nights to go out partying here.

Thursday evenings are popular with the local gay sports groups as this is usually the night they go out to socialise. Another tip we noticed: on weekday evenings, particularly on Fridays, the crowds tend to come in two waves: first, the just-after-work crowd at around 5-7pm, and then the second going-out-to-party crowd at around 10/11pm.

The Gay Village is also the focal point of the brilliant Manchester Gay Pride, which is one of our favourite Pride events in the UK. It is the largest annual gay event in Manchester usually taking place in the last week of August.

Join a gaily tour of Manchester to discover the city's gay village and history

Gay friendly tour of Manchester

Manchester has a rich LGBTQ history, which you can learn more about on a private walking tour with a gay local. We recommend the Gaily Tour in Manchester which includes the main sights as well as a tour of the Gay Village.

Find out more

Gay hotels in Manchester

You'd be hard-pressed to find any hotels in Manchester that aren't gay friendly! This is a city with a large LGBTQ community that sees its fair share of gay travellers. Therefore, booking a double bed is unlikely to be an issue wherever you stay.

These are our favourite gay friendly hotels in Manchester that we have tried, loved and recommend to you. We have included a range to suit all budgets:

01

DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester's DoubleTree by Hilton hotel is very gay friendly plus it has lovely staff and beautiful rooms

Why we love it


  • Best location to be in the heart of the Canal Street Gay Village
  • Popular with other gay travellers
  • Decent gym to pump out your biceps before heading out
  • Large spacious rooms to impress your date

DoubleTree is one of the best hotels to check into if you want to be right in the heart of Canal Street. It's well located at the start of the Gay Village, minutes walking distance to the Manchester Piccadilly train station.

Thanks to its prime location, DoubleTree is one of the most popular hotels with gay visitors to Manchester, so you know your Grindr's going to be super busy here!

The hotel is modern with a local railway theme in the reception. The open-plan communal areas are nicknamed the “Store Street Exchange”, which was the original name of the Manchester Piccadilly Station.

There are no fewer than 285 rooms at the DoubleTree with floor to ceiling windows. They are spacious, simple with a large comfy bed. Seby was particularly taken by the Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries! We recommend splashing out on one of the deluxe rooms or suites on the 8th/9th/10th floors because they have the best views.

The gym at DoubleTree is modern with lots of machines and free weights. It's basically got everything you need to top up your bicep bulge before heading to Cruz 101… We also love that the gym overlooks the Piccadilly Approach, so you can work out with a view and people watch at the same time. The Store Street Exchange restaurant specialises in tasty rotisserie chicken and grilled meats (we were bulking ok?!)… We also liked the continuation of the Train Station theme with menus printed in a newspaper-style called “The Street”, each containing stories about the area.

02

Velvet Hotel

The Velvet Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel in Manchester that's popular with gay couples

Why we love it


  • Our top pick for best gay hotel in the heart of the Village
  • Unashamedly grand boutique hotel with unique individually styled rooms
  • Ideal for late night party boys: book their discounted “Party Package”
  • Camp as tits: huge, gold gilt mirror and crystal chandelier in the entrance!

Velvet is the best hotel to stay in for the gay boys who've come to Manchester to party! It's located right in the middle of the Canal Street Gay Village, next door to a club and above a bar. However, this also means it can get a bit noisy in 3 of the rooms. If you don't mind this, we recommend booking their discounted “Party Package” offer, which also includes a free bottle of Prosecco at check in and late check out.

If you're looking for somewhere more peaceful and less busy, then we recommend you consider DoubleTree (above).

We love Velvet because it's smaller than the large chain hotels with just 19 rooms, so service is more personable, more like you're staying with friends. We also love Velvet because from the moment you enter, you're welcomed by THE campest, most lavish, grandiose decor you'll ever see in your life! The scene is set with a massive gold gilt mirror and crystal chandelier. The rooms each have a unique theme. Ours had an exposed brick wall giving it a rustic feel. Loved our striking four-poster bed and oversized square bath tub!

The Velvet also has a renowned restobar, which has long become a fixture on the Canal Street gay scene for over a decade. The name itself sums up why we love Velvet – it's called Mr White’s English Chophouse – ie random, quirky and slightly mad…right up our alley! Mr White's does terrific steaks and burgers which we rate. Handy note: hotel guests get a 20% discount here. Velvet is our top pick if you want to literally live and breath the gay scene! But as we said above, perhaps skip it if you're looking for something more lowkey and chilled.

03

New Union

New Union is a an affordable gay hotel located in the middle of Manchester's gay village

Why we love it


  • Best gay friendly budget hotel
  • Perfect location in the heart of the Canal Street Gay Village on Princess Street!
  • Hilarious cabaret shows in the adjoining New Union Bar, but noisy until after 2am
  • Handy gifts for guests including rubber johnnies

New Union is where we recommend you stay if you want a decent budget option but still be right in the heart of the gay village.

New Union is located just behind Canal Street on the aptly named Princess Street. It has an adjoining bar with hilarious cabaret and drag shows happening every night. However, as with the Velvet hotel, the downside is that it can get quite noisy here until around 2am, so if you're a light sleeper like my Seby is, make sure you're well aware of this before booking!

The rooms are The Union are simple and decent enough. Our bed was comfy and large enough, the shower worked and had running hot water, the heater worked just fine… In short, this ain't the Ritz by a long stretch! But given the price you pay and the location, it ticks all the boxes making it the ideal base in Manchester for the party boys. Loved the little welcome packages that included two contraceptives – both latex-free I might add!

The Union Bar downstairs is a lot of fun, especially on weekends. When we stayed at the New Union, we loved coming here to start the night. From around 10pm there is a drag show almost every night of the week with stars like Ginger, Whiplash, Gisele and Veryy Cherry. On some nights they also have a stripper show. Find out the latest info on the New Union Hotel & Showbar Facebook page. But we do relay the point that this hotel is better suited to those coming to Manchester for the weekend to party late into the night!

Manchester gay bars

From the moment we set foot onto Canal Street, we have a ball! Manchester has such a diverse range of gay bars to check out whether you wanna hang with twinks, bears or belt out a few pop ballads in karaoke. We set out some of our favourites below.

Handy tip: if it's your first time in Manchester or you're travelling solo and want to make new friends then we highly recommend the Gaily gay nightlife tour. It's led by a gay local who will show you the best bars and your group will very quickly become your lifelong sisters!

Via

Via is a fun gay bar in Manchester with a mixed crowd and a drag show at some stage during the night

It fondly describes itself as “the old lady of Canal Street”…Via is always a fun night out and one of our favourite bars to start the night. It's always busy, but in a good way – always a buzzing mixed crowd of all ages. They have drag shows happening throughout the night and frequently team up with other gay bars to host competitions like the “Lip Sync War!”

Via is located on 28 Canal Street. It is open daily until 2/3am.


The Thompsons Arms

The Thompsons Arms is a fun place to start the night in Manchester

One for the twinks and their fans! The Thompsons Arms is very popular with the under 25s crowd mainly because of the many student drinks promotions. It's a fun place to start the night and becomes a busy dancing venue upstairs later in the evening, but we have to be honest, as thirtysomethings we felt a bit out of place here… TIP: bring ID as the bouncers check everyone regardless of how much botox you've had!

The Thompsons Arms is located at 23 Sackville. It is open daily until around 3/4am.


GAY

We always have a fun night out at GAY gay club in Manchester dancing to their cheesy pop hits!

GAY is an institution in the UK, with 3 gay bars/clubs in London and this gem in Manchester. Like the Thompsons Arms it targets the under 25s with their cheap drinks and student promotions. For us, GAY has a special place in our hearts 'cause this is where we met back in 2009! Inside there lots of video screens playing THE cheesiest pop hits known to man – another reason why we love GAY so much!

GAY is located at Richmond Street, just off Canal Street, and is open daily until around 4am.


The Molly House

The Molly House is a fun gay bar in Manchester that also serves a yummy Spanish-inspired menu

Nothing to do with MDMA(!) Molly is actually a chilled restobar sitting just behind the main Canal Street strip. We love coming to Molly's for a bite to eat (love their burgers!) and a few cocktails before heading out. It's also one of our favourite gay brunch spots in Manchester (yes that's right – a gay brunch darling!). The theme is Spanish and Latin American, so lots of tasty tapas. Middle Eastern mezze and burgers also thrown into the mix for good measure – Manchester style!

The Molly House is located at 26 Richmond Street. It is open daily from midday until around midnight.


New York New York

New York New York is a small and quite exclusive bar in Manchester, but they still host epic drag shows!

New York New York is a small, campy and pretty exclusive bar! They're quite strict with who they allow in – you usually have to find one of the flyer boys on Canal Street first to get a wrist band or flyer otherwise the bouncers will not let you in. Once inside it's a thrilling party where you're likely to make friends with everyone around you and stay all night! It's a slightly older crowd than the other bars, which suited us just fine. Also plenty of drag and cabaret happening here throughout the night, especially on weekends.

New York New York is located on 94 Bloom Street. It is open daily until around 1am.


Manchester gay clubs

Wanna recreate those scenes of Vince and Stuart dancing in the fictional Babylon club? That's largely all set in and around Cruz 101 along Canal Street. We've set out some of our favourite ones below, though note that some bars mentioned above (like GAY and Thompsons Arms) morph into a dancing venue late into the night.

If you're travelling solo, we recommend joining a gay night group tour. It's a fantastic way to meet new friends who will quickly become your new wingmen for the remainder of your trip.

Cruz 101

Cruz is the most popular gay club in Manchester and famous for having scenes from "Queer as Folk" shot here

Cruz is our favourite gay club in Manchester, especially on weekends. It's a guaranteed fun night out that goes on till the early hours of the next day. Great music, hot guys, mostly topless(!) spread over 2 dance floors – upstairs and downstairs. There's usually a live DJ on most nights playing a mix of chart pop hits, RnB and house. The crowd is a mix of everyone LGBTQ of all ages which is what makes it so popular.

Cruz is located at 101 Princess Street. It is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30pm until around 5. On weekends the parties at Cruz go on until 7/8am!


Eagle

Eagle is a fun men-only gay club in Manchester which has fun themed nights

The Eagle is Manchester's male-only fetish club with some legendary themed nights ranging from “Jock Night”, “Toga Party” and “DILF”. The crowd is the antithesis of what you'd find over at Thompsons Arms or GAY! Here it's more manly, with a large bear crowd and guys in their 30s and older. Inside it's got a dark industrial feeling, helped by the fact that it's at basement level – kinda like you're entering a dungeon! We've never had a bad night out at the Eagle and always happy to return for more.

The Eagle is located at 15 Bloom Street. It is open daily until around 3am – on weekends until 6am.


The Brewers Manchester

The Brewers is one of Manchester best cabaret gay bars

Drag, DJs and cocktails! The Brewers is the latest addition to the Manchester gay scene. It opened in early 2020 after the Void closed down. It bills itself as the best cabaret club of the city with drag shows, comedy, burlesque and cabaret happening every evening. It is owned by the same team behind The Brewers in Clapham, south London (one of our favourite gay bars in the capital). It is split into two: the bar upstairs and Club Brewers downstairs (where the Void used to be).

The Brewers Manchester is located at 4 Canal Street. It is open every day until around 3am.


Gay saunas in Manchester

There are two gay saunas in Manchester – Base and Basement. Base is located in the gay village, and Basement a little bit further out. If you're a student (or you like your twinks!) then look out for the student days when under 25 nights can enter for free.

Base

Base is the most popular gay sauna in Manchester because it's based right in the heart of the Canal Street Gay Village. It's open every day from 10am to 10pm. On weekends it's open 24 hours but has a 10-hour expiry. Tuesday is their student day. Base is located at 38 Sackville Street.

Basement

Basement is located a bit further out from the Canal Street Gay Village, up in the Northern Quarter. As such it has a large local/student crowd compared to Base. Basement is open 24/7. Student day here is on Wednesdays. Basement is located at Fourways House, 18 Tariff Street.

Nomadic Boys chilling in a gay sauna in Manchester
Nomadic Boys discussing their next gay night out in Manchester

Gay Pride and events in Manchester

Manchester Pride is one of the best gay events in not only the city, but across the UK. It's like a well-known set date in the British gay calendar. Manchester is also home to a rich drag culture, culminating the annual Drag Fest in April. The city also has one of the best bear gay festivals in the UK in April/May. Here is our roundup of some of the best gay events in Manchester to look out for:

Drag Fest Manchester (April)

Drag Fest is an annual festival that happens in London and Manchester every April (except in 2020 when it was moved to September). Note it's not a drag convention but a live music festival which focuses on the love for drag. It usually has 3 stages – one for live events, the second has a panel with lip sync performances, and the third is a comedy stage. It is organised by Klub Kids who also organise other drag events like the “Viva and Baga Show”.

The Great British Bear Bash (May)

The Great British Bear Bash is one of the best gay bear events in the UK. It's organised by the awesome Manbears team and takes place every year on the first bank holiday in May. The weekend includes club nights, pool parties, sauna themed events, all for bears, chasers, cubs and daddies.

Manchester Pride (August)

Manchester Pride is one of the best gay events in the UK. It's massive, super camp and tons of fun. Every year it attracts loads of celebrities from Graham Norton, Coronation Street actors and even the likes of Ariana Grande in 2019. Each year it gets bigger and better with around 200,000 people attending. Manchester Pride usually takes place on the late August bank holiday weekend in the UK (obviously not in 2020).

Pre-HiBEARnation (November)

This is the second major gay bear event in Manchester organised by Manbears. All the main bars and clubs (like The Eagle, New York New York and Via) get together and host a weekend of parties. For more inspiration about it and for other Manchester bear events like The Great British Bear Bash, check out the Manbears' Instagram gallery.

Queer Media Festival (November)

Manchester's Queer Media Festival in November celebrates everything related to the evolution of queer storytelling in digital media. This includes virtual reality, animation, augmented reality, cinema, podcasting and mobile filmmaking. The Festival culminates with a joyous after-party on the final day.

Gay cruising Manchester

On the whole, the outdoor gay cruising scene has been damped quite a bit over the last decade by the rise in popularity of the dating apps. Therefore, apps like Grindr, Scruff and Planet Romeo are your best bet for meeting up with guys for a quick spot of hanky panky!

Otherwise, our local Mancunian buddies tell us that the following are still notorious gay cruising spots:

  • Rochdale Canal: located near Canal Street close to JD Sports, however, police frequently do spot checks and the actual cruising spot keeps changing, so take care!
  • Rhodes Car Park: gets busy here at night when everything around has shut down.
  • Sackville Park: busy with tourists during the day coming to marvel at the Alan Turing statue…busy at night with gay boys coming for a different spot of sightseeing!
You won't find the real Alan Turing when cruising in Manchester, but you might find this statue
Wise words from our new pal Alan

Gay tours in Manchester

Manchester is a very gay city with a lot of history. There are a handful of excellent LGBTQ tour companies to reach out to who'll be happy to show you round. Here are a few of the best ones:

Gay friendly day tour of Manchester

Manchester gay village Canal Street sign

This is a 2-hour walking tour through the Canal Street Gay Village, exploring the many iconic murals here (that Batman kissing Superman one above for example). The tour also takes you to other sightseeing gems like the magnificent Royal Exchange and a special tour inside the historic Manchester Town Hall. The Town Hall particularly impressed us – it's one of the finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the whole of the UK and also one of the most important Grade One listed buildings in the country.


Gay Manchester by night tour

Explore Manchester's gay nightlife on a tour by Gaily Tours

We love doing night tours at every new destination we visit. It's a fantastic way to make new friends whilst learning more about the local gay scene from the perspective of an LGBTQ local. During this tour, your guide will show you the best parties happening that evening. We also love gay night tours because we've always formed a strong sisterhood bond with the rest of the group, often resulting in a hilarious group Whatsapp group chat that lasts beyond your trip.


Manchester gay tour

Si Manchester provides free gay tours of Manchester with plenty of fun and stops at popular gay bars

This is a unique and personable tour led by gay duo Ivo and Gareth. They begin the tour with icebreaker games in their apartment on Canal Street in order to encourage the group to bond. Then, they take you round to the main gay bars, often following a Queen of Folk inspired trail. The guys aim to take the group to 4 bars, each stop includes a drink. These gay evening tours only happen on Friday and Saturday evenings from 8pm.


Gay restaurants in Manchester

Manchester has a thriving foodie scene that continues to get better and better. From under-the-radar local favourites to the city's first Michelin-starred restaurant, you'll find plenty of deliciousness everywhere. These were some of our favourite gay restaurants in Manchester we tried and loved:

The Richmond Tea Rooms

The Richmond Tea Rooms in Manchester is the perfect spot for some gay high tea

We love this place! It's based on an Alice in Wonderland theme, with the quirky decor to match. This is the place you need to come for a yummy brunch or an afternoon British high tea to spill the T! It's particularly popular on weekends, so expect some waiting time. Otherwise, if you're 4 people or more, you can call ahead/contact them online to book a table. They also host fun events like the adults only “Mad Hatter's Tea Party” and burlesque/cabaret nights. The Richmond Tea Rooms is located on Richmond Street, just behind Canal Street. It is open every day from 11am to 8pm.


WOOD Manchester

WOOD is a fabulous gay friendly restaurant in Manchester that serves delicious meals and very special tasting menus

WOOD Manchester was the first major restaurant opened by 2015 MasterChef winner Simon Wood. He has other restaurants now as well, but the original is always the best, right? WOOD serves “unpretentious fine-dining cuisine”, with the menu changing based on the seasons and a choice of a la carte or tasting menus paired with wines. This is the perfect spot for a special occasion meal, where you can enjoy a blind five, seven or ten-course tasting menu. WOOD Manchester is located on Jack Rosenthal Street and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am until 11.45pm.


Mackie Mayor

Mackie Mayor is an awesome food hall in Manchester where you can try lots of different food and drinks

Mackie Mayor is a really cool food hall housed in a restored former market building from 1858. It's the only intact building that remains from the Smithfield Market that has been converted into a hip space filled with stalls selling all manner of delicious treats. You can come at any time of day (except Monday) to enjoy coffee, beer, wine, spirits with Mexican, Italian, British, Thai and more types of food. There's plenty of vegan and gluten-free options available as well. Mackie Mayor located at 1 Eagle Street and opens from 10am Tuesday-Friday, from 9am on weekends, with varying closing times.


Top things to do

Beyond the gay scene, Manchester a lot of fun things to see and do, particularly the comedy scene and a whole bunch of other experiences. These are some of the best things we've done in Manchester following our many city breaks here that we recommend:

Stand up comedy show

For a hilarious night out in Manchester, head to the Comedy Store for yummy food and stand-up comedy

Manchester is home to a pretty amazing comedy club/restaurant/bar called the Comedy Store that you have to check out. Not only will you get to enjoy some pretty freaking hilarious live stand-up comedy, but you can add drinks and a meal to make it a complete night out. You can choose from a two-course sit-down meal at the restaurant before the show starts, some bar food or even a freshly baked pizza to take into the show with you. We love that the seating here is very plush and comfy, with cup-holders for your drinks. The bar is also known for being the longest bar in all of Manchester!


Food tour with a local

A food tour is a fun way to learn about Manchester's history while eating lots of tasty treats

If you haven't had quite enough yummy food already, we recommend joining this Manchester gastronomy tour where you can learn about the city's history through food! You get to visit eight different places and try eight different tastings. Short blunt tip: come here hungry! Our favourite stop was, of course, trying ice-cream at Ancoat's Little Italy, but pretty much everything we tried on this tour was delicious. It's also fascinating to learn all about the city's gastronomic history, from the diet of the Victorian mill worker to the birth of vegetarianism. 


Indoor skydiving experience

In Manchester you can experience the thrill of skydiving without having to jump out of a plane!

For something totally different that will get your heart racing, we recommend trying indoor skydiving. At iFly Manchester they use a 1,000-horsepower vertical wind tunnel where you can experience what it would be like to go skydiving, without having to jump out of any planes. It's much more affordable than actual skydiving and even if you have no experience, your instructor will show you how it's done. You can even do it with a group of up to 13, so it's a fantastic thing to do with friends, especially if (like my Seby!) they are too scared to jump out of a plane.


Explore the Lake district from Manchester

While staying in Manchester you're ideally situated to also explore England's beautiful Lake District

The Lake District in England's north-west is famous for its beautiful scenery and association with many British poets. If you're visiting Manchester then you're ideally situated to explore the Lake District on a day tour and discover why this stunning area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as seeing lots of beautiful lakes and mountains you'll get to explore pretty twee country towns. We came camping here during our 1st year together back in 2009 and absolutely loved it! We really enjoyed exploring Hawkshead, which was home to both the poet William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter (author of the Peter Rabbit books).


Plan your trip

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Manchester. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go:

How to get there: The quickest and easiest way to get to Manchester from London is by train, but you can also fly directly into Manchester International Airport from other cities in Europe or further abroad. You can get from the airport to Manchester city via train, taxi or booking a private airport transfer, which is our personal choice. That way you can relax and get ready to enjoy your trip without trying to juggle luggage on public transport.


Visa requirements: Nationals from quite a few countries (like the United States, Canada and Australia) can visit the United Kingdom visa-free for stays of up to six months. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements before making travel arrangements to visit Manchester though.


Getting around: Manchester's city centre is easily explored by foot, but if you want to go further it also has an extensive public transport system consisting of buses, trains, trams and cycling routes. There's even a free bus to take you around the city centre if you don't want to walk! Here's a more detailed guide to public transport in Manchester with helpful links and downloadable maps.


Power Plugs: The United Kingdom (including Manchester of course) uses a three-pronged power plug type that's only found in a couple of other places in the world. If you are visiting Manchester from the United States, Canada, Australia, the EU or many other countries, then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you in order to charge any electronic devices.


Travel insurance: We advise anyone travelling to Manchester to organise travel insurance before you go so that you're protected against things that can go wrong like missed flights, lost luggage or illness. We've been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and recommend them to anyone looking for comprehensive cover.


Safety and Security: Even in a gay friendly and safe city like Manchester you can encounter situations while travelling where you need immediate assistance. We use Close Circle's “virtual bodyguard” app when we're travelling as they provide everything from advice to evacuation at just a swipe of a button on your phone. Find out more about Close Circle in our post on staying safe while travelling.


Vaccinations: All travellers to the United Kingdom should be up to date with routine vaccinations for things like measles, mumps, and chickenpox. Depending where you will be going and what you might be doing you may also need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and rabies. You can see the most up-to-date advice on the CDC website and make sure you speak to your doctor as well before booking your travels to Manchester.


Currency: The currency used in the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) is the pound sterling which uses the code GBP and symbol £. While you're in Manchester and the rest of the UK people generally just use the term pound when referring to money, and pence or penny for the smaller denominations (like cents). $1 converts to around 82 pence and €1 is worth about 89 pence.


Tipping culture: The United Kingdom doesn't have a strong culture of tipping like the USA, although it will usually be appreciated if you do decide to tip. At high-end hotels or when eating in a restaurant, a service charge or tip is included/expected, but in most other places you don't need to tip. Have a look at this guide to tipping in the United Kingdom before your visit to Manchester.


Accommodation: For more accommodation options in Manchester we love to use Booking.com. They have the best selection for the lowest prices, often with free cancellation included. Their online customer service is also excellent and available 24/7.


Sightseeing and adventure: For more fun activities and tours in Manchester we recommend GetYourGuide. They have lots of exciting options and their online support is also available 24/7. The booking system is also very easy to use as well.


When to visit: Manchester experiences four distinct seasons, so when you visit will depend on what you want to do while you're there and what kind of weather you prefer. Summer is when the weather is nicest and the calendar is packed with fun events, while winter can be quite dreary.


Gay map of Manchester

Here's our gay map of Manchester which includes all the gay bars, clubs, hotels and sightseeing highlights we've mentioned in this post. Use it to plan your own amazing gay trip to Manchester!

Here's our gay map of Manchester with all the places to stay, eat and party for gay travellers

For more inspiration:

Check out our complete gay guide to the city of Manchsester
Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

6 thoughts on “Gay Manchester: guide to the best gay bars, clubs, hotels and more”

  1. The New York New York is not exclusive. To be kind it is quite down to earth. Manchester also has a Gay hamlet now in the Northern Quarter which is well worth the effort.Lamarrs and the Mint Lounge, plus the Bay Horse are worth the walk. Ancoats is the best place to drink in Manchester whether you are Gay or straight. Also try Chorlton. It is about 20 minutes on the Metro and is a very welcoming place with a terrific Bohemian crowd. All the bars in Chorlton village are accepting of LGBT. It is a bit like Islington.

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