Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, is India’s third-largest city and whose origins go back almost 400 years. India’s cultural and intellectual capital also happens to be one of the first Indian cities to have organized gay parties! Despite Kolkata remaining largely conservative, the city is home to a large gay population that blends in at mixed nightclubs, especially since there’s just one gay club in the city. To add to that, there is no shortage of gay hotels in Kolkata where LGBTQ travelers are welcomed warmly and warmly. They range from grand and luxurious world-famous hotel brands to smaller boutique hotels with one-of-a-kind living experiences. To top that, Kolkata is also where South Asia’s first Pride Walk ever took place! All this, despite the fact that Kolkata doesn’t have a gay scene as such.
But what makes the city such a gay magnet is that it’s the cultural, artistic, and intellectual capital of India. Whether it’s grand colonial-era clubs or a nascent hipster culture that has been thriving since the days of yore, Kolkata draws you in. And for those who go goggle-eyed at the mention of the glorious 1960s, touring Old Kolkata is like stepping back in that era.
The best bit is that Kolkata’s gay-friendly hotels are spread out all over the city. So, whether you want to splurge or stay on a budget, Kolkata’s gay hotels have it all and don’t disappoint. To that end, here are the top 11 gay-friendly hotels in Kolkata, India.
Table of contents
- The Oberoi Grand
- The Corner Courtyard
- The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata
- JW Marriott Kolkata
- Taj Bengal
- ITC Sonar, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- Roland Hotel
- Elgin Fairlawn
- The Park
- De Sovrani
- Kenilworth Hotel
- Our Verdict!
- Best Gay Neighborhoods in Kolkata
- Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Kolkata
- Best Gay Saunas in Kolkata
- Best Gay Events/Shows/Tours in Kolkata
The Oberoi Grand
As the name suggests, The Oberoi Grand is the grandest of all gay hotels in Kolkata. In fact, this 1888-opened luxury heritage hotel is the grand old dame of all hotels in northeast India! Even standard rooms have plenty of nods to Kolkata’s heritage, from wood furnishings to mini-paintings and old wall prints. They almost seem to hide the state-of-the-art mod-cons, which include a minibar and coffeemakers. The rooms exude quiet charm with spotless bathrooms with Roman lamps and bathtubs, making this a design-loving gay traveler’s absolute dream.
A flagship eatery decked out in ’50s-style furniture offers every cuisine under the sun – Japanese, Chinese, European, Bengali, and Indian. there’s even a wellness menu, an opulent breakfast fit for a king, and a Thai restaurant serving delicious fare. Do enjoy a nightcap at the laidback Chowringhee Bar. Besides the fitness center and lovely spa, the pool in the central courtyard is a favorite. It’s surrounded by manicured lawns and sun loungers and is the perfect place to cool off.
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The Corner Courtyard
Best heritage. The Corner Courtyard is one of the loveliest gay-friendly hotels in Kolkata. This funky heritage property lies in a 1904-built Bengali landowner’s family home and is a magnet for gay travelers looking for unique stays. With just seven rooms, staying here is all the more intimate and exclusive. Every unique room has its own color theme, with none identical in shape, size, or personality. Charcoal, for instance, boasts moody black-and-white photographs of famed Kolkata writer and filmmaker Satyajit Ray. Crimson, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the Writer’s Building. While some have huge four-poster beds, they all have coffeemakers, moody lighting, and minibars. Bathrooms are all identical, with black-and-white tiles and elegant retro fittings.
The restaurant, as well as the rooftop bar, are a favorite for locals and travelers. Delicious meals aside, they also serve an excellent continental breakfast, with good coffee and fresh cakes served throughout the day. Amenities include laundry, Wi-Fi, and room service. But it’s the design and decor that’s the winner. Think walls covered in door locks, keys, old book covers, a central courtyard featuring an old camera collection, and a Swarowsky chandelier in the dining room.
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The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata
Best for LGBTQ events. Few gay hotels in Kolkata are as impressive as The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata, Asia’s longest-running hotel! Nestled right in the city’s historic heart, the hotel boasts fantastic and spacious rooms, even entry-level ones. In the two older wings, antique furnishings and retro tapestry pay homage to the past. Meanwhile, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, JBL speaker systems, and large TVs lend the international standard of luxury. While the bathrooms are gorgeous with powerful walk-in rain-showers, the suites’ bathrooms are to watch out for. They feature carefully restored antique tubs and retro fittings, making them perfect for a romantic stay or a honeymoon.
The rest of the hotel is equally impressive, especially the courtyard pool with sun loungers, a well-equipped gym, and a hedonistic spa. The restaurant is particularly impressive since it also serves Anglo-Indian, Nawabi, Bengali, and Tangra (Kolkata’s Chinatown) Chinese! The Legacy and Tea Lounges might be impressive, but Wilson’s Pub’s crown jewel for gay travelers. Besides hosting music events and serving beer, it hosts LGBTQ-friendly evenings known as Kitty Su Pop-Ups, which are an absolute rarity in Kolkata! Even in 2022, they hosted numerous Kitty Su Pop-Ups during Pride month.
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JW Marriott Kolkata
Located between the airport and the city center, JW Marriott Kolkata is one of the best-located gay friendly hotels in Kolkata. The sleek, modern hotel boasts stylish exteriors and interiors, starting right from the resplendent lobby with muted golden accents and etched glass. Choose from 281 spacious rooms and suites, all of which are contemporary and luxurious to boot. King beds and marble bathrooms with bathtubs are standard in all of them, while the upgraded suites boast stunning city views and even butler service.
Every inch of the hotel is wonderful, especially the two restaurants that serve almost every cuisine under the sun. Don’t miss the breakfast buffet, which serves local Bengali delicacies such as kochuri and luchi. After a long day of exploring the city, kick back with a cocktail at the Lounge. Or, you could head to the outdoor infinity pool, which offers spectacular views of the city. It also has an attached pool bar, so that’s a bonus! The features range from multiple wellness options, such as a fitness center, sauna, and a luxury spa and salon.
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The heart of Kolkata’s cultural heritage Alipore, is the perfect setting for the palatial Taj Bengal, one of the grandest gay hotels in Kolkata. In fact, many of Kolkata’s landmark attractions, such as the zoological gardens, the iconic Eden Gardens, and the Victoria Memorial, are within walking distance. The grand hotel opens onto a five-storied stone and marble atrium, which is the hotel’s centerpiece. On the inside, you’ll find priceless art and genuine antiques adorning its interiors. Choose from 229 rooms and suites, each and every one of which offers sweeping panoramas of the city. For a luxurious experience, book the suites. While some overlook the pool, others offer the most magnificent views of the domed marble splendor of the Victoria Memorial.
You’re in for a grand treat at this hotel, which overflows with amenities. Just think about it; there are five restaurants that serve everything from Indian and Middle Eastern to Mediterranean and Chinese. The railway-themed bar is perfect for enjoying a drink, especially with a live band serenading you in the background. The pool is the perfect place to enjoy a light meal at the poolside grill or the deli/patisserie when you want to cool off.
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ITC Sonar, a Luxury Collection Hotel
ITC Sonar in Kolkata is something of a delightful juxtaposition. This gay-friendly hotel’s contemporary and sleek design clashes with Kolkata’s old-world charm. However, the hotel’s setting amidst lush greenery and languid water lily-filled pools is what makes it stand out amongst the city’s best luxury digs. The rooms and suites are equally decadent, with all of them looking out over the vast estate. In the end, the hotel might stand in the middle of the city, but it certainly gives out out-of-the-city resort vibes. We’d recommend you splurge on a suite here since they come with butler services, massage chairs, and deep-soaking bathtubs.
The rest of the hotel is equally grand and imposing, especially the corridors and lobby that are lined with Pala-era (8-12 AD) replica statues. Five dining options on the property, including a gourmet deli and a lounge, serve all of India’s grand cuisines. What’s more, ITC has no less than five swimming pools as well as a jacuzzi. Other facilities include a 24-hour fitness center and the signature Kaya Kalp Spa, where getting a massage is a must.
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Best value for money. Located in the serene and residential Ballygunge, Roland Hotel is one of Kolkata’s best gay-friendly budget hotels. The hotel has just 27 rooms, all of which are spacious and come with minibars, flatscreen TVs, and sitting areas. Moreover, all bathrooms are immaculate with good rainfall showers. What’s more, the rooms are great value for money, especially since they come with free breakfast too, whether in-room or a buffet. You even have a snack basket and bath products, with the suites even featuring bathtubs. Dig into Indian, American, and Continental fare at the on-site restaurant. Besides a warm and friendly staff, the hotel even has a tour desk and pick-up and drop services to the train station and the airport.
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Best guesthouse/B&B. Swanky hotels have nothing on the delightful and adorable Elgin Fairlawn, a historic and gay-friendly guesthouse with lots of character. Think of a communal balcony with quicker chairs, a shaded courtyard cafe, a dining room with chandeliers, antique furniture, and many old photos. Even the rooms seem to be stuck in the old colonial days but in a good way. The old-fashioned but wonderful rooms are comfortable and spacious, with plush curtains, beds, bookshelves, and chic bathrooms. Even the rest of the structure and hotel radiates the same charisma. It’s evident from the guest lounges filled with antique furniture and stairways lined with old black-and-white photos. Adding to the inimitable appeal is the dining room with tablecloths and chandeliers, where a hearty and delectable breakfast is served every morning.
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Befitting its location in the city’s swankiest neighborhood, The Park is one of Kolkata’s most fashionable and stylish gay hotels. Unapologetic in chicness, the hotel boasts an ultra-modish layout and design and doesn’t shy away from competing with its rivals. An uber-modish lobby, which resembles a nightclub, welcomes you within. All rooms and suites are modern, with vibrant and comfy furnishings and trendy touches such as circular shower alcoves. The icing on the cake is the sweeping views of the city from the huge windows. The hotel also overflows with amenities, of which the best is the large, heated pool which is perfect for a refreshing swim. Order cocktails from the poolside terrace bar, which also plays thumping music. Post that, a visit to the world-class spa is overdue, whether it’s a massage you want or a body treatment.
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Sitting in the upmarket suburb of Salt Lake City, the small and personable De Sovrani is the perfect mid-range gay-friendly hotel in Kolkata. What’s more, it provides the amenities that are usually seen and expected at an overpriced four-star hotel in the same neighborhood. Rooms and suites are very comfortable and nicely furnished, with some of the upgraded ones even coming with sizable and separate living and dining areas. Bathrooms are chic and modern, with separate walk-in shower areas with rainfall showerheads. Amongst the many amenities, a standout is the rooftop pool with a poolside bar/café and even a hot tub. It offers some of the best views of Kolkata’s suburbs. Dig into Indian and international delicacies at the on-site restaurant and sip on cocktails at the Library Pub.
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Sitting atop the list of gay hotels in Kolkata is the Kenilworth Hotel, which is a splash of charm with a touch of history. Tucked in the former diplomatic enclave of the city, the Kenilworth still features remnants of its former historic elegance, along with modern touches. Rooms and suites are spread across two buildings. Gay travelers who love history should go for the ones in the whitewashed Heritage Wing, which are likably old-fashioned. On the other hand, those in the newer wing are more modern. Nevertheless, all have mod-cons such as minibars and spacious bathrooms with bathtubs. The hotel has everything from free parking to four dining options and even a fitness center when it comes to amenities. However, the best feature is the decadent spa, which offers a variety of massages and body treatments.
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While you might love the list of Kolkata’s best hotels, we’ve also specially curated a specific list of the best of the lot according to their best attributes:
- Best value for money: Roland Hotel
- Best heritage: The Corner Courtyard
- Best guesthouse/B&B: Elgin Fairlawn
- Best for LGBTQ events: The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata
Best Gay Neighborhoods in Kolkata
Since Kolkata doesn’t have a gay scene, there’s no gay neighborhood as such in the city. However, it has many openly-known cruising spots, such as Nandan Theater in Maidan, Minto Park in Elgin, Rabindra Sarovar Lake, a.k.a. Lakes, and Chaya Theater in Manicktala. Despite the city not having a gay scene as such, it’s the age of the internet and smart devices, after all. That has enabled discreet networking for small group get-togethers or private encounters.
Kolkata might not openly fly the rainbow flag yet, but it could change as India’s LGBTQ gay scene grows. It leads the way for change in India’s LGBTQ scene, especially with the rise in the number of hotels followed by Hyderabad and its many gay hotels and even Mumbai’s gay hotels.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Kolkata
Kolkata doesn’t have any out-and-out gay bars, but the ones listed below are some of the most gay-friendly bars in the city.
- La Dolce Vita: This small and dark pub is a regular gay haunt. Whether it’s weeknights or weekends, this place is very happening.
- Someplace Else: This amazing nightclub and dance venue attracts young gay music lovers on Saturdays, especially since it regularly plays live bands.
- Amra Odbhuth: This cafe is not just one-of-its-kind in Kolkata but probably all over the country. This gay cafe offers Kolkata’s queer community a safe and fun-filled space for fun, creativity, and mingling. Regular events here include film screenings and performances showcasing queer performers, entrepreneurs, and artists. It also hosts ladies’ nights every Wednesday.
- Pink Party, Kolkata: This amazing page is a great source for those looking for LGBTQ parties during the weekends. This group posts regular updates about LGBTQ+ events and parties.
- Elgin Cafe 377: This cafe opened up after the decriminalization of the LGBTQ community in India under Section 377, hence the name. While it’s temporarily closed and will be back soon, the queer-friendly cafe is a fabulous place for all so-called misfits to gather together, socialize, and enjoy.
Best Gay Saunas in Kolkata
Unfortunately, Kolkata doesn’t have a gay sauna yet, although the sauna at the Park Hotel is said to be a popular cruising place. Chhaya Cinema is a very popular spot for gay cruising in the city. However, we’re hoping that things change in the future and that Kolkata will have gay saunas soon as well.
Best Gay Events/Shows/Tours in Kolkata
- Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk: Kolkata is the first city in India to host a Pride Walk, all the way back in 1999! In fact, it’s not only India’s but South Asia’s oldest Pride Walk. It completed 20 years in 2019, and the Pride Walk is all set to take place in December 2022 again. The first march only had 15 participants, while the 2019 one had as many as 5,000 participants! It attracted not just the queer community but also their supporters and admirers. It eventually paved the way for more people to come out of the closet and fight for same-sex rights.