Spartacus International Gay Guide 2011-2012

by Curtis M. Wong

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday April 14, 2011

The Spartacus International Gay Guide may be one of those rare books that you'll actually want to judge by its cover.

Gracing the 2011-2012 edition's jacket is the handsome Eliad Cohen, and based on the forest of chest fur barely contained by his tank top, a hairy hunk might just be this season's must-have travel accessory.

But even those without a fondness for the hirsute will find much to enjoy in Spartacus, a guide that prides itself on providing an extensive, international overview for the sophisticated gay male traveler.

As with previous Spartacus titles, the 1,160-page book makes little attempt at offering much in the way of history or background of each destination. Instead, it operates virtually as a gay tourist's encyclopedia, carefully integrating accommodations, dining, nightlife and other more scintillating amenities in a colorful, easy-to-use format.

Whether you're seeking a charming bed-and-breakfast, a quaint cafe serving a smooth cappuccino, or a steamy outlet for that newfound fetish, it's sure to be represented here. Each national section is written in five languages - English, German, French, Spanish and Italian - which is sure to please ambitious polyglots as well as those traveling with foreign relatives or friends.

The book begins with an informative section on health, with an emphasis on HIV infections as well as the dangers of other sexually transmitted diseases, which should help to quell travelers who may be concerned about accommodations as well as sex clubs and other leisure places. Other information is presented in an efficient, if somewhat perfunctory, way.

Included in each section is a brief introduction highlighting each country’s stance on LGBT rights, as well as the visibility of alternative lifestyles in each given location. Tiny maps of each country are also featured with each section, through more useful are the larger walking maps for each of the major cities, with gay points of interest highlighted on each. Descriptions of restaurants and accommodations rarely rise above the nature of what you’d find in a Zagat guide: Noi, one of Prague’s most elegant and popular Asian dining establishments, is summed up merely as "fine Thai cuisine prepared by Thai chefs. Reasonably priced."

While the book won’t detract much from your summer reading, the Spartacus International Gay Guide is nonetheless superbly efficient. Whether your destination is a gay mecca like Paris and Sydney or more off-the-beaten path (even gay establishments in places like Dakar, Senegal warrant a mention), the editorial team at Bruno Gmünder has once again prepared a reliable investment for the gay tourist.

Now in its 40th year of publication, Spartacus is thicker and more extensive than ever before. It is sure to be useful no matter which continent you’re on.

LINK: Spartacus International Gay Guide

A Connecticut native, Curtis M. Wong currently works on the editorial team of The Huffington Post. He returned to New York City in 2009 after four years in Europe, where he covered news, features, and food and restaurants for The Prague Post, the Czech Republic's English-language weekly. A self-professed travel and pop culture junkie, Curtis' writing has appeared in The Hartford Courant, Passport Magazine and Abu Dhabi's The National, among other publications. You can check out some of his HuffPost work here

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