Britain has one of the most active gay and lesbian scenes in the world, centered mainly in London, much less so in Cardiff. Gay bars, restaurants, and centers are also found in all large English cities, notably Bath, Birmingham, Manchester, and especially Brighton.
Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (tel. 020/7837-7324; www.llgs.org.uk) is open 24 hours a day, providing information about gay-related activities in London or advice in general. London's best gay-oriented bookstore is Gay's the Word, 66 Marchmont St., WC1N 1AB (tel. 020/7278-7654; http://freespace.virgin.net/gays.theword; Tube: Russell Sq.), the largest such store in Britain. The staff is friendly and helpful and will offer advice about the ever-changing scene in London. It's open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6:30pm and Sunday from 2 to 6pm. At Gay's the Word and other gay-friendly venues, you can find a number of publications, many free, including the popular Boyz. Another free publication is Pink Paper (with a good lesbian section), and check out 9X, filled with data about new clubs and whatever else is hot on the scene.
The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 954/630-1637; www.iglta.org), the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses.
Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Above and Beyond Tours (tel. 800/397-2681; www.abovebeyondtours.com) is a gay and lesbian tour operator. Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com) is a well-known San Francisco-based gay-owned and -operated travel service. Gay.com Travel (tel. 415/834-6500; www.gay.com/travel) is an excellent online successor to the popular Out & About print magazine. It provides regularly updated information about gay-owned, -oriented, and -friendly lodging, dining, sightseeing, nightlife, and shopping establishments in every important destination worldwide.
The following travel guides are available at many bookstores, or you can order them from any online bookseller: Spartacus International Gay Guide (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com) and Odysseus: The International Gay Travel Planner (Odysseus Enterprises, Ltd.); and the Damron guides (www.damron.com), with separate, annual books for gay men and lesbians.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.