Luxembourg might not jump out at you as the most obvious place to head to for a European break. After all, France boasts Parisian style and world-renowned wines, Belgium and Germany are the beer destinations of choice for those with a taste for the hop, and if you are looking for sun, sea, sand and …well, shenanigans, then you probably head for the Mediterranean.

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But if you are a cultural explorer looking to see just how much fun can be had on the pink pound, then this little country has something that no other European state can rival. So the question is, ‘how vibrant is Luxembourg, a country where their Prime Minister is openly gay?’

The Grand Duchy, as it is more formally known is encompassed by Germany, Belgium and France and the capital, Luxembourg City has a population of only 115,000, a city where languages are as trendy as their chic nightlife. I have to admit that Luxembourg was not high on my list of must-see places, but when I started to research how easy and affordable direct flights were from London City Airport with Luxair, I packed my overnight bag and off I went.

Photo by visitluxembourg.com

The real draw of Luxembourg, both the country and the capital city, is that it is small but perfectly formed and offers a charming and manageable slice of northern Europe. It is also one of the wealthiest countries in the world and also features high on the list for global wine consumption.

Arriving at Luxembourg airport is probably going to one of the best immigration experiences you will encounter; 7 minutes or less to disembark from the plane and speed through customs is about par for the course. The city of Luxembourg is easily accessible by local bus, and it says much about a place when you learn that buses are free of charge on the busiest day of the week, Saturday.

Photo by visitluxembourg.com

Luxembourg City has been involved in European politics and war since Roman times due to its location, and as such there are vast swathes of fortification integrated into the fabric of the urban layout. But today that same location means that it is a weave of Gallic and Germanic cultural influences and has twice been named the European City of Culture. As expected it offers a wealth of museums and theatres, galleries and historic buildings and a gentle but friendly nightlife.

Photo by visitluxembourg.com

On the advice of visitluxembourg.com, I opted to stay at Le Place d’Armes, a hotel that would offer the same chicness and style as that of the city around me. I found myself booked into a luxurious two-story suite, which like all the rooms in the hotel are a mixture of ultra-modern and restored 19th-century original features. The carpets felt so plush it was as if they were changed daily just to keep my feet happy, and the bath was so deep that even an inveterate shower lover like me was briefly tempted to change my habits. The hotel has its own Michelin star restaurant and is in the perfect location as a base from which to explore the city, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Photo by hotel-leplacedarmes.com

Xavier Bettel is Luxembourg’s first openly gay Prime Minister and, worldwide, only the third openly gay head of government. He has stated that increasingly in Luxembourg, “people do not consider the fact of whether someone is gay or not,” and this is precisely how I would describe this liberal and welcoming country. The visitor who wants to find the ‘gay scene’ in Luxembourg will have quite a challenge as there is only one gay bar in the country. But that could be because Luxembourg does not need to have an identifiable and separate ‘scene’ when the whole country wants to celebrate the diversity of LGBT people, and frowns on the idea of people being excluded.

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The compact and bijou nature of the city means that you can comfortably explore it on foot, and there are plenty of official tours to guide you through its most exciting and endearing features. My tour guide Sascha, kept me captivated that the four hours I spent in his company seemed no more effort than relaxing in the hotel’s sumptuous bath.

The city is full of cultural attractions from museums dedicated to everything from Roman occupation to The Battle of The Bulge, which raged through this area towards the end of World War II. From ancient cloth manufacturing to modern art to literature, industry, aviation, and of course wine.

Photo by visitluxembourg.com

Luxembourg is a well-kept and wonderful snapshot of Northern Europe through the ages. It is hard to find a destination that can hold a candle to this beautiful city and this tolerant and welcoming country.

Written by Ray Si – a proud member of IGLTA