There’s no place in Yorkshire, or Northern England for that matter, that felt quite as ‘medieval’ to us as York. Its age-old streets are brimming with history, attracting hordes of travelers like us looking for a classic historic English experience. The city is an incredible labyrinth of 13th-century walls, at the heart of which likes the magnificent York Minster, one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals. York, just like the neighboring Leeds and the English capital city London, is a gay-friendly city. While it doesn’t particularly have a gay scene to speak of, there are many gay hotels in York that more than just welcome LGBTQ travelers. What’s more, we found that the options ranged from hotels to even quaint bed and breakfasts that this region is known for. They made for excellent alternatives to hotels for when we wanted to soak in the culture of the region.
With York being one of the most preserved medieval cities in Europe, we culture buffs were very excited to explore this much sought-after destination. Straddling the gushing waters of the River Ouse, York has history, culture, and cosmopolitan charm and has it all. If you’re mesmerized by cobbled streets, Gothic structures, and England‘s rich history like us, then this is the city for you. To that end, check out the top LGBTQ-friendly accommodations in the town.
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Dreamy and modern at the same time, Middletons York is a hotel we immediately fell in love with. Tucked in a quiet residential area right in the heart of the city, the hotel sits in six buildings. We absolutely loved the 1829-built Georgian-style Lady Anne House, as well as two brick almshouses-turned-cottages, a 19th-century part-sawmill, and an events space with Victorian gothic windows, all in a pretty garden. Despite the historic nature of the property, there’s a large fitness club where we worked off our Yorkshire calories one day. Our days began with breakfast at the Sawmill restaurant and ended with dinners at the Conservatory. What we liked was that the Yorkshire-influenced menu is short and sweet and meant to indulge and not confuse us.
Choose from 56 rooms that range from the standard-level Comfy ones to the Executive suites with chandeliers, high ceilings, and heavy drapes. Our choice of one of the two ‘Arts and Craft’-themed cottages was amazing as they came with a separate bedroom and an open-plan lounge. Even the bathrooms are roomy and modern, and ours even had a bathtub. The best bit? All the rooms come with tea and coffee-making facilities.
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The Principal York
Best heritage hotel. The grand Victorian station hotel of The Principal York is easily one of the most luxurious gay hotels in the county. Since it sits right next to the station, staying here put us even closer to York’s medieval walls, the Minster, and most other attractions. So, we were close to the action without being in the hustle and bustle.
Don’t be fooled by the hotel’s monolithic, station-hotel appearance, unlike us. On the inside, we found a modern and sleek hotel that’s also elegant. Think lofty hallways, Corinthian pillars, mirrors on walls, velvet upholstery, and soft carpets. The bar and refectory-style restaurant is more industrial avant-garde and made for excellent pictures for the ‘Gram. It’s also where we enjoyed delicious meals, including a hearty breakfast spread. After a long day of exploring York, we liked nothing more than heading to the basement leisure area, which not only has a gym but even a divine pool. Both features are very rare for a York hotel. Our favorite, though, was the airy Garden Room, where we were served afternoon tea. During summer, the small garden across the car park is a lovely place to hang around. Everything is rounded up by traditional service levels of luxury hotels – crisp and up-to-the-minute.
We had the choice to stay in 155 rooms, all of which feature a soothing grey palette, marble-clad bathrooms, and soft wool curtains. We dished out a bit extra for one of the Minster-view suites, which have huge, plush beds and even a goody box of local produce.
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Clementine’s Town House Hotel
If you’re vintage-crazy like us, the Clementine’s Town House Hotel is right up your alley. An award-winning restaurant, a tranquil, leafy location close to the city center, and oodles of Victorian charm – this one has it all. What’s even better is that this homely hotel sits in the heart of buzzing Bootham and is a mere 10-minute walk to the historic city center. Oh, and it’s also gay-friendly!
This 1881-built red-brick townhouse still has remnants of the original structure, like stained-glass windows and Victorian-tiled floors. Each room here is a treasure trove of vintage curios due to the keen antique-collecting nature of the owners. That’s what we’d gab all day about! So, we found a mixture of beds, chairs, rugs, and cabinets from every era, from Edwardian to Georgian. Apart from the charming lounge, the restaurant, and bar are the only public spaces. Everything from breakfast to dinner was a veritable feast, as was the list of cocktails. Props to the staff for knowing everything about pairings on the menu to the best things to do in town. Finally, the hotel offers parking for 7 GBP (9 USD) a day, which is a real perk for an expensive place like York.
21 rooms across two buildings mean staying here was as intimate as staying at a hotel can get. Every room is individually decked out in pale blues, yellows, reds, and mint greens with dark-wood antiques. While all rooms are ensuite, only a few have baths, so check before booking. Since we wanted to splash, we chose the Loft Suite, which has a sauna in the bathroom. It was the perfect nest for us and our partner.
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The Fat Badger York Sure Hotel
Since we wanted to stay thick in the middle of all the action, the Fat Badger York Sure Hotel was perfect. This Georgian Pub-turned-Best Western outpost is one of the most budget-friendly amazing gay hotels in York and is right down the street from York Minster. It sits right in the shadow of the architectural landmark of Bootham Bar (arched walkway) on the pedestrian-only High Petergate. Staying in York couldn’t get more central than this.
The hotel sits in two gorgeous Georgian buildings joined by delightful steep staircases and narrow passageways. On the inside, the look is simple yet homely, right from the six-seater dining room with a fire to the quaint bar. The showstopper is, undoubtedly, the expansive beer garden at the back, where we’d spend all our day when we weren’t exploring out. Apart from the old city walls bordering it on one side, it’s the views that do the trick. It enjoys a distinct cozy pub-like feeling and serves both pub grub and a hearty English/Scottish breakfast. Rounding up everything in a neat little bow is the impeccable service by the staff.
Since we had the choice of just 12 rooms, staying here is a very intimate experience. All rooms feature antique darkwood/cast-iron beds and vintage showpieces. Over-long curtains allowed us to sleep in late, while the views out of the windows are superb, to say the least.
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The Queens Hotel
Best value for money. Staying on the quieter Western banks of the River Ouse at The Queens Hotel made for a comfortable and value-for-money base for exploring York. One of the more well-placed gay hotels in this Yorkshire town, it’s one of only two central hotels right on the riverside. So, we made the best of it and enjoyed long walks with our partners and people-watched to our heart’s content. The cherry on top is that York’s historic center is a mere 10-20-minute walk.
The stone and red-brick exterior might blend in with neighboring warehouses-turned-apartments, but it’s a different story on the inside. Modern, eye-catching additions include comfy furnishings, honey-colored woods, and gold-and-blue patterned carpets. We loved the framed prints, which add a dash of color to the surroundings. Even though it’s a value hotel, we found that it does have a few frills. On sun-kissed days, we’d soak up the sun on the small balcony in the lounge and enjoy a cuppa. Our mornings and evenings would be spent in the dining room-cum-bar, which serves delectable meals from breakfast to dinner.
We knew that we’d come to the right place looking for a serene and quiet stay. Of the 78 rooms, the inner courtyard rooms are the quietest. Even the ones with gorgeous river views are decidedly quieter than most rooms in the city. We stayed in a Superior Double Room with a view of the river. Nevertheless, all rooms are spacious and feature all the mod-cons we needed for a comfortable stay.
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The White Hart Hotel
Best boutique hotel. The White Hart Hotel is one of the premier hotels in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate, around half an hour away from York. One of the town’s best boutique gay hotels in Yorkshire, the hotel ticks all boxes for a perfect gaycation. Not only does it have a popular bar, but it also has a fresh design and a fun, avant-garde style.
Overall, the White Hart Hotel is one chic and stylish dig with a great atmosphere. We love the aesthetic that’s a cross between a quirky country house and a deluxe boudoir. Hence, the profusion of modern art, oversized Baroque mirrors, and silver candlesticks against black, plum, and grey backgrounds. We ended up meeting many interesting locals at the popular bar, which feels like a bohemian drinking den with carriage-style booths and a heavy-set bar counter. Meanwhile, the restaurant has an aura of romance and serves delectable Scottish fare and full English breakfasts with continental extra. We were enthralled by the pub quizzes on Sundays, which made for a good laugh.
Their rooms range from cozy doubles to suites and are smart and spacious with basic mod-cons and modern bathrooms. Some, like the Double Room we stayed in, even have four-poster beds.
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Most luxurious. If you’re looking for an ultra-luxurious gaycation in York, then stay at The Grand York, the city’s only five-star offering. We found it to be one of the most indulgent gay hotels in York. The hotel retains its splendid Edwardian features while bringing it up-to-date with top-notch amenities and service. What’s more, the location is enviable. It’s not more than a 15-minute walk from the River Ouse, the medieval walls, shopping streets, the station, and major sights like York Minster.
The building in which the hotel sits had a former life as the headquarters of the deep-pocketed North Eastern Railway Company. As it is, we loved its stunning original details, like wide, arched hallways and a sweeping stone staircase. Modern, 21st-century details like velvet furniture and a charcoal grey and deep purple color palette lend it a luxurious and spacious feel. The fabulous service is helmed by cheery staff that was ready to cater to our every request and whim. A visit to the ESPA spa with our partner was perfect after a long day of exploring York. The spa lies in the original vaults and includes a fantastic fitness room and a decadent pool. Rounding up the amenities are two restaurants and an atmospheric Whiskey Lounge, where we’d enjoy nightcaps.
Even the entry-level rooms at this hotel are spacious, with bathrooms in all rooms featuring both showers and bathtubs. All the same, we’d recommend the higher Executive category rooms where we stayed. They have a slew of mod-cons, even more space, and access to the White Rose Lounge.
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No. 1 by Guesthouse
No. 1 by Guesthouse is one of the most luxurious gay hotels in all of Yorkshire and sits in an elegant Georgian townhouse. The hotel lies in Clifton, away from the bustle of the city center. Even then, it’s but a short stroll. That’s why it was the perfect base for us to explore the top things to do in York.
A dark-brick Georgian facade with an ornate cornice and stone pillars is peppered with lush foliage, lending it a dreamy appearance. We were floored by it right away. On the inside, it’s Georgian grandeur all the way; think gild-framed paintings, a sweeping staircase, and red-granite pillars. Funky lighting, velvet furnishings, and deep-blue walls lend it the townhouse feel. We enjoyed the best of York’s cuisine at the atmospheric vaulted-cellar brasserie. The modern photography on exposed brick walls lends it a romantic ambiance. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most romantic hotels in York, UK. The property has multiple nooks where we could relax, including a first-floor living room and a large, club-like bar. Moreover, the place even has regular events, including gin tastings and soul and jazz evenings, some of which we were fortunate to be able to attend.
The room choices and decor range from a cool, chic townhouse to a classic country house, depending on what floats your boat. Nevertheless, they all have crisply contemporary bathrooms, seating areas, and mod-cons, notwithstanding the era. We chose the Bootham Suite, a luxurious pastel-hued space with all mod-cons we could think of.
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The Judges Lodging
Since we were in York for shopping and sightseeing, we headed straight to Judges Lodging, one of its most gay friendly hotels. Moreover, it also happens to be one of the best hotels in York and lies on Lendal Street, one of the city’s prime shopping spots. Even other major sights and attractions of the city are within walking distance, while the lovely banks of the River Ouse are one block down.
A double-door entrance led us into this impressive, three-story Georgian townhouse, which offered hospitality, York-style. Thanks to the bold wallpaper and modern upholstery, it boasts a smart, stylish townhouse feel. They sit pretty against original features like marble fireplaces and a striking curving staircase. Even though it’s an inn, there are many places where we could relax. These include the rear roof terrace, the rear courtyard, or the lovely front one overlooking the street, where we’d dig into breakfast. We also hung out at the atmospheric cellar bar, feasting on the delicious all-day menu.
21 rooms are divided into different categories, with the entry-level ones being more contemporary in character. Terrace rooms look onto the internal courtyard, but the larger and more attractive Feature and Character rooms are the best. In fact, some of the best rooms in the house enjoy Minster-tower views.
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Our conventional notions of a hostel were demystified when we arrived at Safestay York, one of the zaniest gay hotels in York. This superb hostel sits in a grand Georgian building on one of York’s most important medieval streets, Micklegate. It’s tucked right between the River Ouse and the city’s medieval walls at Micklegate Bar, which is an impressive location for a hostel. Moreover, it also lies within walking distance of the city center, making it the perfect budget base for us backpackers.
Even though it’s a hostel, Safestay punches well above its weight. A purple front door beckoned us into the red-brick Georgian house with period features like a sweeping staircase and decorative cornices. Modern, 21st-century touches include striped carpets, velvet furniture, and colors like lemon, lime, purple, and pink. Elaborately framed portraits, candelabras, and big mirrors gave it a completely ‘un-hostel’ look, and we were blown away. The heart and soul of the hostel is the lounge bar with a pool table. We even spied some good-looking people strumming the free guitar, which made for very interesting conversations. A small courtyard, a refectory-style dining room, and a basement lounge area complete the communal areas of the hostel. We’d hang out in different places every day, and no two days were the same. Simple snacks are offered all day, and a basic breakfast completes the offerings.
With 145 choices for beds across 23 rooms, this is one huge hostel. It comprises female-only/mixed dorms as well as private rooms, depending on what suits you. While the dorms are spacious and lovely, the private rooms are particularly swish with flatscreen TVs, hot drinks, and more.
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Guy Fawkes Inn
History lives and breathes on in the very walls of the Guy Fawkes Inn, a fabulous gay hotel in Yorkshire sitting right by the Minster. The historic pub-with-rooms is named after the best-known participant of the failed Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes. In fact, it sits right opposite the 16th-century church where he was baptized in 1570. Its plum position at the top end of the High Petergate places it just a few steps from York Minster. Since we practically live and breathe English history, we were stoked to stay here.
The pub-hotel preserves its historic feel, right from the gas-lit bar to the atmospheric dining room. Both places are darkly cozy, complete with gas lamps and the odd suit of armor. The pub menu here is a favorite with both locals and tourists, and we also loved the superbly cooked breakfast. Also, it has a full roster of amazing events, including a very popular Sunday-night live blues gig which was thrilling, to say the least. Since it’s a traditional inn, the focus is on the food. The narrow courtyard, complete with an eye-catching mural of Guy Fawkes, is also a nice place to chill.
Right off the mural sit wonky stairs leading up to the 13 rooms, which emanate the atmosphere of the Georgian building. Well-worn antiques, four-poster/cast-iron beds, and long silk curtains are mainstays in all rooms. While bathrooms are on the small side, they’re immaculate, and two even have roll-top baths. We splurged on the romantic top-floor Belfry Suite with excellent views of the Minster.
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Each and every one of York’s gay-friendly hotels is dreamy, to say the least. But the ones below are even more special, according to their features.
- Best heritage hotel: The Principal York
- Best value for money: The Queens Hotel
- Best boutique hotel: The White Hart Hotel
- Most luxurious: Grand York
Get Some Culture in York:
- York Pride: York Pride celebrates the diversity of York’s LGBTQ community. Apart from a parade, there is a slew of other events, including fun-filled after-parties. Since York Pride is a free event, the wristbands they sell are one of their key sources of funding. So, buying their wristbands, which cost 5 GBP (6.3 USD), is a great way for everyone to show their support.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in York:
Although York doesn’t specifically have a ‘gay bar,’ these establishments are very LGBTQ friendly.
- Nag’s Head: This LGBTQ-friendly bar underwent a complete renovation before York Pride in 2014. Today, it’s one of the places where the official after-parties take place.
- Thomas’s of York: This bar, which was popular with LGBTQ visitors and even hosted numerous Pride events, shut down in 2022. It’s all set to reopen in 2023-24 as a cocktail bar.
Best Gay Saunas in York:
York doesn’t have a gay sauna scene yet. We’re hopeful that with the city’s open-minded nature, York will have gay saunas very soon.