Ohio’s largest city and capital is a bastion of progressive-mindedness in the Midwest. The diverse city is a bright rainbow spot on the gay map and is one of the most welcoming LGBTQ destinations in the American Midwest. Locally known as the “San Francisco” of the region, Columbus’ gay cultural landscape is a vibrant one at that. Firstly, we found many excellent gay hotels in Columbus with warm and welcoming staff. What’s more, we looked at hotels across budgets and neighborhoods to cater to as wide a variety of travelers as possible. We also wanted to make staying in Columbus as comfortable as possible, so we also looked at the amenities that they offer.
What we especially loved while selecting the locations of these hotels is that Columbus has not one but two gayborhoods. That’s something that not even the largest gay-friendly cities in the country can boast of. In fact, its drag scene is among the largest in the United States – who knew? If that wasn’t enough, the city is the second-most sexually satisfied in the country – talk about forwardness! So, we ensured that most hotels lie in or near these amazing neighborhoods. Even if the Midwest isn’t progressive, Columbus is certainly an exception.
Besides its thriving gay scene, we had a ton to see and do in Columbus. During the day, we explored the famous Columbus Zoo And Aquarium, which is one of the world’s largest zoos. We followed it up with a visit to the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Ohio Stadium. For cultural buffs like us, it’s a bonus that Columbus is also a center for the cultural arts and has the Columbus Museum of Art. So, pack your bags and head to these LGBTQ-friendly hotels in Columbus for a culture-driven gaycation.
Table of contents
- Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph
- Hilton Columbus at Easton
- Residence Inn Columbus Downtown
- Best Western Suites Columbus Ohio
- Sonesta Columbus Downtown
- The Hotel LeVeque Autograph Collection
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Columbus Polaris
- 50 Lincoln Short North Bed & Breakfast
- Moxy Columbus Short North
- Graduate Columbus
- The Westin Great Southern Columbus
- Best Gay Neighborhoods in Columbus
- Our Verdict!
- Just So You Know:
- Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Columbus
- Best Gay Events/Shows/Tours in Columbus
- Gay Saunas in Columbus
Le Meridien Columbus, The Joseph
Le Meridien The Joseph is one of the chicest hotels in Columbus. We love chic boutique digs, especially this hotel, which lies right in the heart of the gay Short North Arts District. A sleek and futuristic glass-paneled exterior welcomed us into a gorgeous lobby. Unusual design elements such as geometric shapes grace the entrance, a design feature that continues in the bedrooms.
All 135 rooms and suites boast plush beds, fluffy robes that we enveloped ourselves in, and spa-style bathrooms. After a day of exploring, the best way to unwind is to curl up on the sofa next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and soak in the spectacular views of the city. We found the best rooms of the lot to be the higher-up ones, which boast freestanding and deep-soaking bathtubs large enough for two. So, if you’re here with your partner, then you need to get one of these amazing rooms.
The hotel has a partnership with the contemporary art gallery of the Pizzuti Collection, so you enjoy free admission too. Two superb onsite venues serve delicious American fare for meals as well as well-crafted drinks and cocktails.
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Hilton Columbus at Easton
When we went looking for romance in Columbus, we found ourselves leaning towards the Hilton Columbus at Easton. It’s one of the grandest gay friendly hotels in Columbus and perfect for gay couples seeking romance in the city. This sophisticated hotel lies north of the Short North district. We especially loved the sprawling façade with a colonial design, complete with rows of vibrant flowers and massive columns that welcomed us within.
We have the choice of a bevy of lavish rooms, but what we really liked is that even entry-level ones are 400 square feet huge! So, we had all the space to spread out and then some. The sleek design extends to the Italian marble bathrooms, which have glass-enclosed showers and chic vanities. Thanks to the huge flatscreen TVs, the coffeemakers, and the fridges, our stay here was as comfortable as it could get.
“We could hardly believe that this was a chain hotel, what with the stunning pool space, the terrace, and the greenery around. If our stay in Columbus was memorable, it was because we were at this Hilton property!”WOW Travel
We found a lot to do in the hotel outside the room too. For instance, we found ourselves heading to the indoor pool and hot tub area, which are amongst the finest in the city and the entire state. In fact, it’s one of the best hotel pools In Columbus. Later on, we sipped on craft cocktails at the lobby bar and enjoyed a meal at the restaurant. If the weather is nice when you’re visiting, you can even enjoy meals on the alfresco terrace, which overlooks the lush greenery around.
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Residence Inn Columbus Downtown
Best location. As the name suggests, Residence Inn Columbus Downtown lies in the heart of Downtown and is one of the best-located gay hotels in Columbus. While staying here, we were located right midway between the gay scenes at Short North and German Village! So, if you plan on exploring the gay scene of Columbus all night long, then this all-suite hotel is best.
Set in the historic Buckeye Building, the hotel boasts the most impressive 40-foot-high lobby. Within it sits a trendy bourbon bar that serves tapas, barrel-aged bourbon, and craft cocktails. It also serves a mean grab-and-go breakfast, which had all of our favorites. Think coffee, oatmeal, cereal, breakfast bars, pastries, and even premade breakfast sandwiches. Tip for culture buffs: the breakfast area even has the original bank vault, back when it was a bank!
Coming to the 126 suites, they all feature sprawling living areas and fully equipped kitchens. That’s why there are many grocery shops in the vicinity, and the hotel even allows grocery deliveries. Hence, it’s a great choice for those who want to stay for a long time. Despite being an all-suite hotel, the rooms also have other mod-cons such as flatscreen TVs and comfy bathrooms.
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Best Western Suites Columbus Ohio
Best budget. We were looking for a great gay friendly stay at a great price, and we stumbled upon the reliable Best Western Suites, one of the best hotels in Columbus. For us, the all-suite hotel ticked all the budget traveler boxes – location, convenience, and amenities. Located near Ohio State University, the 66-room hotel lies just around 10 minutes off I-70 from downtown Columbus. It’s a 20-minute drive to both German Village and Short North gayborhoods, making it a perfectly balanced stay between budget and location.
We found the indoor pool here to be a blessing, especially if you visit the city in colder weather and still want to wash the day off. Later on, we even worked out in the fitness center and unwound a bit in the hot tub. The day begins with a free hot breakfast buffet that’ll keep your hunger satiated till lunch. They have bread, egg items, hot items, waffles, tea, coffee, and more. Plus, they’ve started up the breakfast bar again after Covid, so it’s not just pre-packaged breakfast that you’ll get.
We were impressed by the clean and spacious rooms and suites too. They have soaking tubs, modern decor, fridges, microwaves, and refrigerators for our comfort. Even laundering facilities are available for a small charge.
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Sonesta Columbus Downtown
Staying in Columbus Downtown doesn’t necessarily mean spending a bomb, as the Sonesta Columbus Downtown proves. Not only did we have easy access to all the best attractions around, but also we were in the best location possible to explore gay Columbus; right midway between German Village and Short North!
What we particularly liked about this hotel is that all guest rooms, which were a huge variety, have been renovated recently, so everything was spanking new and top-of-the-line. We appreciated the mod-cons even in the standard rooms, especially the layout with the cozy sitting areas across from the plush platform beds. We didn’t have to wait for breakfast every morning to enjoy a cuppa, thanks to the Keurig coffeemaker right in the room.
While exploring this hotel, we also found a state-of-the-art fitness space and the excellent onsite restaurant, Vine + Forge. They serve handpicked wines along with delicious locally sourced American food.
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The Hotel LeVeque Autograph Collection
Most luxurious. The Hotel LeVeque is not just one of the best LGBTQ-friendly hotels in Columbus, but it’s also one of the overall best hotels in Columbus, Ohio. This hotel is perfect for LGBTQ travelers who’re looking for a luxurious stay in Columbus. Tucked in the heart of the business district, it’s a mere five-minute drive from the gay scene at Short North and German Village both. So, we were easily able to combine our exploration of Columbus’ gay scene with a decadent and luxurious stay at Leveque.
We felt indulged from the minute we stepped into this historic hotel’s gorgeous lobby with modern chandeliers and red marble walls. We had the choice of as many as 149 rooms and suites, but what was best is that all rooms measure at least 300 square feet. Moreover, they all feature sleek celestial-themed and Art-Deco décor and expansive bathrooms with plush Frette robes and rainfall showers. For some true indulgence, we chose a suite with separate living and dining areas and soothing soaking tubs. Also, we relished delicious meals, including a hearty breakfast, at the elegant French brasserie and bar.
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Homewood Suites by Hilton Columbus Polaris
Homewood Suites by Hilton Columbus Polaris is yet another of the best gay hotels in Columbus. There’s a lot to love about this hotel, which boasted consistently wonderful service all the time that we were there. It’s nestled in a tranquil neighborhood near Polaris Mall, just 15 minutes north of the Short North gay district.
Unlike hotels that have a drab beige ambiance, the rooms at this Homewood Suites property were very different. The bright-colored décor in the suites lends them a very cheerful vibe; think lime-green furnishings and hot pink walls. The separate living areas and the full kitchens only add to their appeal, which means that we didn’t have to worry about space or meals.
Our days began on a great note with an included hot breakfast buffet. No matter what we were doing during the day, we’d make it back for weekday social hour with drinks and snacks in the early evening. However, the star of the show for us was the natural light-filled indoor pool area with a nice hot tub to the side. Rounding up the offerings is the basketball and the fitness center.
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50 Lincoln Short North Bed & Breakfast
Best B&B. We don’t love staying in huge hotels all the time. Sometimes, all we need is a charming bed and breakfast. Like the 50 Lincoln Short North Bed & Breakfast, which is one of the best and most charming gay-friendly hotels in Columbus. As the name suggests, the quaint B&B sits in the very heart of the gay neighborhood of Short North. So, it was perfect for us to explore Columbus’ gay scene, as we didn’t want to travel too far and wanted to be within walking distance instead. The place is set in an Italianate-style B&B and still features yesteryear touches like crown molding and elegant hardwood floors.
What we loved was the complementing with 21st-century amenities such as free Wi-Fi and a business center. We could even choose from a host of charming rooms, all of which have plush beds, vintage wallpaper, and vintage light fixtures. And, of course, nothing competes with a hearty B&B American breakfast, which we dug into before heading out to explore Columbus.
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Moxy Columbus Short North
Moxy Columbus Short North is, without a doubt, one of the chicest LGBTQ-friendly hotels in Columbus. Just about everything about the Moxy is cool, right from the check-in process. Here, we checked in at the bar and immediately received a token for a complimentary drink! So, our amazing stay here was off to an excellent start indeed.
Stylish gay travelers don’t need any convincing to stay here, as the hotel overflows with amenities. There’s lightning-fast, free Wi-Fi that allows you to stay connected and a state-of-the-art fitness center for keeping up with workouts. We particularly loved the superb sixth-floor terrace and the games room, where you can play table tennis and billiards after a long day of exploring the city.
The 116 rooms and suites here are some of the most stylish in the city. They not only have pillowtop beds and flatscreen plasma TVs but also designer toiletries in the bathrooms. Since it sits right in the heart of the Short North neighborhood, Columbus’ gay scene was a hop, a skip, and a jump away.
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Yet another of the gay-friendly hotels in Columbus’ Short North gayborhood is Graduate Columbus. Everything from the hotel’s location to its offerings is top-notch, as we found out when we stayed here. This hotel is decked out in the bold hues of the Buckeye and boasts high levels of hospitality.
Whether it’s the lobby or the artwork in the rooms and suites, we found each and every nook and cranny gorgeous and utterly Instagrammable. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you’ll love the rooms and suites, which are decked out in a sports-oriented and nostalgic theme developed specifically for this location. In fact, we spent quite some time simply photographing the room after checking in! Moreover, the room came with comforts that we quite appreciated, such as cable flatscreen TVs, coffee machines, fridges, and modern bathrooms with bath products and toiletries.
The hotel is full of references to the Ohio State Buckeyes and other interesting design details. These include meeting rooms named after Jerrie Mock and Jack Hanna and artwork inspired by Wendy’s hamburger! Besides an a la carte breakfast, the restaurant also serves other delicious meals. A bar and a fitness center round up the facilities.
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The Westin Great Southern Columbus
We end our list of the best gay hotels in Columbus with a historic and iconic one, the Westin Great Southern Columbus. The hotel, which was built way back in 1897, lived a former life as the Great Southern Hotel. Today, it pays homage to the collective dreams of this Midwestern town and is a favorite with discerning travelers who love themselves a wee bit of history, like us! Designed in classic French Renaissance style, the hotel was originally funded by the 100 USD that each of the 400 Columbians had invested. So, the hotel’s origins are unlike any other in the town.
The rooms and suites are no exception and are equipped with the swankiest mod-cons we saw in the town. These include the usual like flatscreen TVs, but they also have swish bathrooms with rainfall showers and deep-soaking tubs. They also have laptop safes and iPod docking stations, and the room windows open for fresh air, a rarity in hotels.
The hotel also has a host of amenities, such as a fitness center and a business center. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners can be enjoyed at the two on-site restaurants with 24-hour room service. Oh, and did we tell you that there’s an amazing bar on the property as well? Yep.
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Best Gay Neighborhoods in Columbus
Columbus’ gay scene might not be as huge as San Francisco or New York City, but even then, it has plenty to offer LGBTQ travelers. First and foremost, Columbus has not one but two gay neighborhoods. In the Midwest, where even a single gay neighborhood is rare, having two certainly makes a city very welcoming and gay-friendly. The two gayborhoods lie north and south of downtown. They’re the Short North Arts District to the north and the charming and historic Germantown Village to the south. The Short North Arts District brims with creativity and innovation and is the epicenter of LGBT life in Columbus. The quirky neighborhood is home to some of the city’s best gay bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops. One of the establishments here worth checking out is Torso Leather & Fetish, a gay-owned fashion store.
The utterly charming German Village is one of the country’s largest privately-funded historic districts. The laidback historic neighborhood is full of 19th-century brick houses and bohemian shops and boutiques. The place does have a smattering of gay bars but is also home to many gay couples in the city.
The attitudes towards LGBTQ people are still largely conservative in Ohio. However, the attitudes are changing due to a young student population and a growing gay scene.
Do you want to stay near the airport? Here are some of the best hotels near the Columbus, Ohio, airport.
We understand that not all hotels are the same. In fact, we also liked all hotels on this list for different reasons. That’s why we’ve come up with a smaller, specialized list of hotels from the ones above to help you decide where you want to stay in Columbus.
- Best B&B: 50 Lincoln Short North Bed & Breakfast
- Best location: Residence Inn Columbus Downtown
- Best budget: Best Western Suites Columbus Ohio
- Most luxurious: The Hotel LeVeque Autograph Collection
Just So You Know:
- Experience Columbus, the city’s official tourism office, even has an LGBTQ-centric resource and information page. Moreover, it even publishes a free e-newsletter bi-monthly.
- Jeni’s Ice Cream: This lovely ice cream shop is one of the sweetest national success stories in Columbus. Founded by Jeni Britton Bauer, winner of the James Beard Award, this shop, which now has 10 locations, has an exclusive line of LGBTQ Pride merchandise and ice cream creations!
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Columbus
- Axis: This bar has been a Columbus staple since 1996 and is the buzziest and biggest LGBTQ club in the town. There are not just lounge areas but also a dance floor and even a stage set for some of the best drag entertainment in Ohio. For those looking for entertainment of the untucked variety, Friday and Sunday nights are all-male revues.
- The Cavan Irish Pub: Cavan calls itself the only gay Irish pub in Ohio – and it’s true! It comes with a major LGBTQ twist – think drag and karaoke, with a splash of hunky and beautiful go-go boys. Revelers can down drinks and cheer for the performers in the company of their fellow gay revelers.
- Slammers: Often called the “last lesbian bar standing,” Slammers is an iconic institution in Columbus. Having been around for a whopping 30 years, this drinks and pizza spot is a unique dot and a must-visit on the Columbus gay map. In fact, Slammers is the only lesbian bar left in all of Ohio.
- Awol Bar: This Olde Towne East is another longstanding LGBTQ institution in Columbus. Awol hosts tea dances, go-go dancers, dance parties, DJs, and karaoke across its indoor and outdoor dance floors.
Best Gay Events/Shows/Tours in Columbus
- Columbus Pride: The history of the Columbus Pride Parade goes back all the way to 1981, when the first edition took place, with just 200 people participating. Today, the Pride event is celebrated throughout the month and includes everything from a trans march and a street festival to a tea dance and even a Jaeger run along the river. Recently, celebrations have widened their net to include an art show, a Unity Picnic, and a 5K run/walk.
Gay Saunas in Columbus
- Club Columbus: This flamboyant gay sauna is the top cruising spot in the city. Besides a sauna and a steam room, there’s also a gazebo, whirlpool, media lounge, private rooms, a seasonal pool, and a gym.