Spanish hotel grows from one resort to a mini chain of gay hotels
Axel Hotel Barcelona, which opened in 2003, likes to call itself the “first gay hotel in the world.” That may come as a surprise to the many clothing-optional guesthouses and inns that have catered to the GLBT market for decades.
But Axel means something slightly different. Axel isn’t “discrete” about its gay clientele, nor is it a private facility. No, Axel is an out-and-proud, urban, contemporary, designer hotel with a cosmopolitan flair and lots of half-naked men tanning themselves on deck chairs.
Certainly queer globetrotters have responded to its concept. In 2005, Hotel Axel won the title “best gay hotel in the world” by the readers of Out Traveler.
But the tremendous success of the Barcelona site has apparently encouraged the owners that the brand will work elsewhere, too even on this side of the Atlantic.
Axel has announced plans to open other international accommodations. One is set for Buenos Aires in April 2007, but the group also plans to expand throughout Europe and into North America as well.
The B.A. hotel is currently under construction and will feature 48 rooms, a cocktail bar and restaurant, popular modern amenities and of course a pool. After all, why go to gay hotel if you’re not going to see sunbathers?
The artwork alone should have been a dead giveaway.
There was the billboard, proudly promoting what looked like an aggressively gay cruise line. “Sailors Board Me Now!” it shouted a bit out there even for West Hollywood. The sign then directed drivers and pedestrians to the URL Raibowcruiselines.com as an online destination for the company.
But something’s amiss. If this is a gay cruise, why are the men anything less than shaved, buff and under 30? The hair looks styled at SuperCuts, not Toni & Guy. And one of the men committed the awful error or allowing his chest hair to show. This must be some kind of joke.
What has gotten WeHo hot-and-bothered over the chance to cruise somewhere other than the backroom of a club is nothing more than a clever marketing ploy by the puckish bad-boys of MTV Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius and the rest of their crowd. Enter the website and you’re treated to an ad for “Jackass: Number Two.”
The sequel to the infantile “dare” movie itself a follow-up to the popular TV show where a klatsch of idiots pull dangerous and stupid gags doesn’t open until September, but the billboard has gay men seeking out the website already.
Paramount Pictures, the studio releasing the film, had better hope gays appreciate the cheeky humor and don’t mind the disappointment when they realize they’ve been punk’d. But that’s another show.
Arnold Wayne Jones
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 5, 2006.