There’s no real scientific evidence to suggest that chocolate actually does work as an aphrodisiac. Many foods have been assigned such qualities, but by and large, they tend to have a strong placebo effect instead. In other words, they get you thinking about sex just by association, and this puts sex to the front of your mind. Could this be why ‘Chocolate Row’ in a central part of Brussels positively glows with the frisson of sexiness?
Belgium is known for two things, and if you are not here for the beer, then you should head along to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert and try the chocolate. Found right in the heart of Brussels, this glass-domed series of galleries was one of the first shopping malls to be built in Europe and still retains the grandeur and architectural spectacle that reflects its century and a half age. It is filled with high-end boutiques, cultural organisation and, of course, a generous helping of chocolate shops.
And if you are looking to explore the heart of Brussels social scene, bars and nightlife then there is no better location to use as your base than the nearby Hotel Hubert. Only a few minutes from the Grand Palace and Brussels Central Station, Hubert is a perfect mix of the luxurious and the easy-going, aims towards self-service but has an attentive staff to help you negotiate its modern concepts.
They strive for a home from home feeling, and that is precisely what you get. Brussels is one of the most progressive and liberal cities in Europe, it is a leading gay city with a rich history, thriving nightlife, a French vibe and delicious cuisine. It also has plenty to explore for the man looking for a men-only scene, a scene which you will find is discrete, varied and welcoming.
As the gay scene in London seems to be slowly fading out, Eurostar promotions are keeping the Londoners afloat with extremely affordable deals. If you want a city destination that is close and reasonably priced.
5 gay establishments to consider in Brussels
Macho Sauna: A very friendly and comfortable suite of rooms accommodating a sauna, a steam room, a gym and a hammam, a terrace, a lounge and a club zone. Choose the time to go carefully, mid-week is perfect if you want to concentrate on the facilities but the weekend is when it gets jam-packed and turns into a party zone.
Oasis Sauna: Pretty much the opposite of the sleek modernity of Macho Sauna, instead it is housed in a rather grand building filled with chandeliers, fireplaces, portraits and comfortable armchairs. All the usual facilities are to be found but with more of the atmosphere of an old-time Gentlemen’s Club.
The Stammbar: Open about the fact that it is a “music cruise bar, “ it is fitted out in an industrial style, has cruising areas, a dark room and is open every night. While it plays to the more obvious end of the scene, it is friendly and attitude free, popular with locals and visitors alike and manages to stay on the right side of the divide that separates sleazy and sexy from sordid and grubby.
La Baroque: Best described as compact and bijou but proves that size isn’t everything by being one of the most popular bars on the city’s the gay scene. It is full of colour and atmosphere, but most visitors drink outside. On the weekend, there’s usually a DJ who plays a mixture of club classics and pop music. Give him a wink, and he’ll play your favourite tune.
Station BXL: Midweek is very busy. It has a retro feel, plenty of room for dancing, some dark corners for more intimate encounters and although it might be at the more expensive end of the drink pricing it is undoubtedly a comfortable and rewarding place to spend time.
Written by Ray Si – proud member of IGLTA