Gay dream hotels

The Advocate's sister site OutTraveler.com takes us around the world to show us the globe's best homes away from home.

BY Darren Frei

November 01 2006 12:00 AM ET

Where We Go After a Gondola Ride
Corte Gherardi Bed & Breakfast (+41-523-7376;
www.cortegherardi.com/ Introduction.html) Venice,
Italy

If you ask to see
a map at most hotels and inns, the concierge will whip
out a dumbed-down brochure. Ask for a map at the Corte
Gherardi and you'll be pointed toward a detailed
9-by-41/2-foot 16th century De Barbari map of Venice.
"It's amazing to see how little that Venice has
changed over the past 500 years," says owner Sosthen
Hennekam, who lived in this 13th century palace with
his boyfriend for 12 years before converting it into
one of Venice's grandest B&Bs. Built in 1260, the
roof, wooden beam ceilings, and early Gothic windows are all
original. Inside, the vibe is more contemporary, with free
wi-fi, modern furnishings, and a Mac Mini computer in
the hallway for making Skype calls or downloading your
photos onto a CD.

Breakfast is
served in your room or on the wooden roof terrace that
overlooks the famously sinking fairy-tale city. "Giving
special attention to our gay and lesbian clientele was
only natural," Hennekam says. "Venice hasn't got much
gay life going on, and it's about time that changed.
We have only three rooms, but there are other gay
couples who offer spare bedrooms." He didn't name names. For
gay nightlife, take a 10-minute stroll to St. Mark's
Square for Aurora, a cute little bar with a gay night
every Wednesday. Of course, true romantics will just
keep walking, getting lost in the magical maze that is
Venice.

Where We Go For Bathhouse Chic
Standard Hotel (305-673-1717;
www.standardhotel.com) Miami

Far removed from
the cacophonous buzz of Collins Avenue, Ocean Drive, and
Lincoln Road, the Standard Hotel Miami offers a million and
one ways to relax and rejuvenate. Everything seems to
be geared around the healing properties of water in
all its various states. We love the Roman waterfall
hot tub, the arctic plunge pool, the cedar sauna, and the
"wall of sound" shower, which pumps a rotating selection of
global DJ sounds into the H2O.

Instead of a
cheeky bar or pool scene, the hotel's lavish Turkish hammam
is the real centerpiece of this spa playland, encouraging
marathon social sessions with its heated marble seats
and late-night operating hours. With all this
hydrotherapy, you'd think booze would be banned from the
premises. Think again. This is Miami.

Where We Go to Rough It
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
(+66-53-652-189;
www.fourseasons.com/goldentriangle) Chiang Rai,
Thailand

Guests arrive at
the Four Seasons Tented Camp in an exquisitely crafted
long-tail boat, floating down the Ruak River in the remote
Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos,
and Burma meet. The camp's 15 cream-colored canvas
tents, inconspicuously perched on stilts amid a lush
bamboo jungle, have all the amenities of a five-star hotel:
fully stocked minibars, wi-fi, air-conditioning, and
hand-beaten copper bathtubs for two.

The all-inclusive
rate, though certainly not cheap, covers everything
from wine and spirits to excursions down the Mekong River
and a day of elephant riding taught by a fraternity of
extremely friendly and helpful mahouts (elephant
handlers). Dressed in cute blue uniforms, the mahouts
tend to the camp's six enormous pachyderms.

After a jostling
elephant safari, followed by afternoon tea, make your
way across the suspension bridge that leads to the spa and
luxuriate in a traditional Thai healing treatment
while you overlook the magnificent San Valley. You'll
probably think to yourself, This is hardly
camping
.

Tags: Travel

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