Perth Travel Guide

Perth Travel Guide

Perth might be one of the most isolated cities on the planet, but don't let its remoteness fool you. Long revered for its endless sunshine and exceptional beaches, Perth is also home to creative restaurants celebrating regional ingredients, character-driven boutique hotels, and globally-inspired yet locally-sourced boutiques. And while it might not get the same acclaim as Melbourne or Sydney (yet), Perth promises all the trappings of a first-rate city getaway—with the highlights of Western Australia's striking scenery and diverse wildlife never far from reach. Snorkel alongside reef sharks, selfie it up with ever-beloved quokkas, cheers to the good life in wine country—and still make it back to downtown Perth for a twinkling rooftop dinner. Gay Perth centres around the trendy, gay-popular neighbourhoods of Maylands and Bayswater (also dubbed Gaylands and Gayswater), but you'll encounter welcoming, inclusive vibes no matter where you go. Now, without further ado, your definitive gay Perth travel guide awaits.

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The best hotels in Perth

Perth’s most stylish boutique hotel might very well be the Alex Hotel, where hipster vibes and glamorous design details seamlessly co-mingle to create a funky yet fabulous accommodation experience. Located in the heart of Perth’s cultural centre, there’s a particular emphasis given to chic communal spaces. Don’t miss the cosy Mezzanine Lounge, a swoon-worthy area to sip artisanal spirits while paging through any one of the books on display. A furnished rooftop lounge with killer city views and locally designed rooms round out the experience. Dark and moody in all the right ways, QT Perth is an ultra-luxurious high-rise hotel conveniently tucked away near the popular Swan River. The hotel welcomes all ‘modern explorers, wildflowers and the creatively charged,’ perfectly befitting of the discerning gentleman in search of bespoke, sometimes quirky yet always sophisticated, comfort and decor.

QT Perth

QT Perth

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Fusing old-world elegance with mod, state-of-the-art amenities, a stay at The Melbourne Hotel promises a fascinating glimpse into Perth’s dynamic heritage

A reimagining of Perth’s grand 19th-century state buildings, COMO the Treasury delivers refined luxury in a historical setting, with many aesthetic details original to the building. Each of the 48 rooms is unique while prioritizing serenity and lavish relaxation; think freestanding bathtubs, handcrafted European furnishings, and oversized, light-filled windows. Another iconic building turned sumptuous hotel, The Melbourne Hotel is a heritage-listed building with some 120-years of storied history. Fusing old-world elegance with mod, state-of-the-art amenities, a stay at The Melbourne Hotel promises a fascinating glimpse into Perth’s dynamic heritage. Opt for the aptly named Heritage Rooms, each a one-of-a-kind space with distinct, original design elements, and don’t forgo a cocktail at the bright rooftop bar. For those partial to a quaint bed and breakfast, Haven On The Park is a quiet escape in trendy Highgate. Expect a highly hospitable staff always eager to dish out the best local tips along with well-appointed rooms and a leafy outdoor courtyard.

The Melbourne Hotel

The Melbourne Hotel

QT Perth

QT Perth

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Recommended hotels in Perth
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Today, the maze of underground tunnels, solitary prison cells and maximum security detailing offer a gripping encounter with an all-too-recent extreme system of punishment

Things to do in Perth

Western Australia’s only World Heritage Site, the Fremantle Prison was once used to incarcerate British convicts. Today, the maze of underground tunnels, solitary prison cells and maximum security detailing offer a gripping encounter with an all-too-recent extreme system of punishment. Tours range from True Crime, real-life stories of the prison’s most notorious inmates, to the hair-raising, told-in-the-dark Torchlight Tour. Switch gears and lighten the mood at Rooftop Movies, an open-air cinema experience boasting spectacular city views, comfy bean bag chairs and adult beverages. From recent releases to time-honoured classics, it’s a perfect thing to do in Perth made all the more memorable by the panoramic skyline vistas.

Reopening in 2020 after extensive renovations, the Western Australia Museum offers a deep dive into Western Australia’s unique history and geology, with state-of-the-art facilities in which to explore the natural and social exhibitions—including a gripping look at local Aboriginal culture and customs. From here, hop over to The Art Gallery of Western Australia, home to the State Art Collection. This is one of the world’s premier assemblages of Western Australia art and design, including an exceptional curation of Indigenous pieces. The gallery’s gift shop collaborates with both local and international artists and is an excellent spot to discover an eclectic, storytelling souvenir.

Western Australia is home to world-renowned wines, with some of the country’s oldest vineyards and top family-owned wineries accessible via an easy day trip from downtown Perth. You’ll discover the Valley’s long-standing traditions that are still alive and thriving in Western Australia’s wine culture today, all while enjoying complex blends and regional varieties. Get as tipsy as you like with this tour as your DD and guide. Festival-aficionados might want to time their Perth sightseeing with Fringe World, a 31-day multi-arts festival—the third largest of its kind in the world. International Queer Cinema celebrates queer films from around the world, while Perth’s Pride Festival continues to attract record-breaking numbers of people, a definite must on any Perth gay scene guide.

Western Australia Museum

Western Australia Museum

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Recommended experiences in Perth
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Elizabeth Quay Train Station | Photo: M. Fildza Fadzil

Elizabeth Quay Train Station | Photo: M. Fildza Fadzil

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What to see in Perth

Home to 19 scenic beaches, Perth is both alluringly cosmopolitan and abounding with natural beauty. North Swanbourne Beach is one of the city’s most gay-popular clothing-optional beaches, a long swath of white sand with fenced-off dunes. Other gorgeous beaches include Cottesloe and Scarborough, both beloved for their glittering, crystal-clear water and silky soft white sand. Don’t miss a sunset at either. Another Perth gem is Rottnest Island, more commonly referred to as Rotto. Take the short ferry here for world-class drift snorkelling, leisurely afternoon cycling and, perhaps most interestingly, an opportunity to come face-to-face with adorable, photogenic Quokkas. If you’re in downtown Perth and need a quick respite, Kings Park is home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden—over 400 hectares of protected bushland and a sanctuary of biological diversity. Here you’ll also find the DNA Tower, a Perth landmark that just so happens to resemble a DNA molecule. Climb the tower’s 202 stairs for staggering garden views.

Leighton Beach | Photo: Josh Spires

Leighton Beach | Photo: Josh Spires

Drive a few hours north of Perth to discover The Pinnacles, an otherworldly landscape of sweeping desert punctuated with ancient limestone monoliths

Perth is renowned for its ever-evolving street art, with colourful murals and thought-provoking graffiti transforming drab public spaces into fresh and fun locales all across town. Streets of Perth offers a digital tour of the city’s street art scene while highlighting the best spots to encounter the creative expressions in person. To continue your street art education, don’t miss a leisurely afternoon at the nearby port city of Fremantle. You’ll also find plenty of quirky boutiques, concept shops, and independent cafes. The Fremantle Market boasts over a century of culture and heritage and is a worthwhile stop. For a more extended day trip, drive a few hours north of Perth to discover The Pinnacles, an otherworldly landscape of sweeping desert punctuated with ancient limestone monoliths, and a fascinating Perth thing to do. Formed around 30,000 years ago, some of the pillars tower at five meters high. The one of a kind scene is made even more extraordinary when the sun sets and reveals a spectacularly starry night sky.

The Pinnacles | Photo: Tobias Keller

The Pinnacles | Photo: Tobias Keller

Photo: Akhil Lincoln

Photo: Akhil Lincoln

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With more restaurants per capita than any other Australian capital city, Perth is making significant waves in the country’s culinary culture

Where to eat in Perth

With more restaurants per capita than any other Australian capital city, Perth is making significant waves in the country’s culinary culture. Even better, Perth’s Mediterranean climate rich in sun and sea means you can expect local ingredients to steal the show on just about any menu worth mentioning. Start your culinary exploration at Wildflower, the rooftop restaurant at Mr. Hudson approved hotel COMO the Treasury. In addition to excellent city views, the elegant vibes promise next-level service only made more memorable by the mouthwatering ‘farmer-and-forager-driven’ dishes. Inspired by the six indigenous local seasons, everything here is both fresh and local. The dry aged Wagin duck is always a fan favourite, when available. Another chic fine dining option is Petite Mort, a delightful gastronomic encounter with a small plate, modern French cuisine. Opt for head chef Todd Stuart’s three-course prix fixe. You won’t regret it.

For white-tablecloth, high-end cuisine in Perth’s North Beach, Clarke’s is the obvious choice. A long-time foodie favourite, this refined restaurant transforms regional ingredients into classic dishes with a notably modern flare. The 8-course degustation menu is worth the splurge, though the a la carte menu certainly does not disappoint. Red Cabbage is an unpresuming restaurant hidden away beneath an office block. Don’t be put off by the lacklustre location. Inside, one of Perth’s premiere chefs enthrals diners with his high-concept, native-ingredient inspired menu. Raw kangaroo, native marron, and local duck breast all make appearances, while a flawless waitstaff and small but mighty wine list round out the experience.

Photo: Lidye

Photo: Lidye

At Bib and Tucker, indulge in modern Australian cuisine while revelling in the unbelievable oceanside setting. Shareable bites like pumpkin gnocchi and slow-cooked pork belly feature alongside gourmet pizzas—all of which can be made gluten-free. The bright, airy space makes this the perfect locale to while away an afternoon, only interrupting your wining and dining for a quick, cooling dip in the dazzling Indian ocean. Speaking of sharing, Lady of Ro is our favourite place in Perth for family-style Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t be surprised if the smiling owner/chef escapes the kitchen to welcome you to her restaurant personally. It’s traditional Greek hospitality at its best, just transplanted to the sunny shores of Perth. Insider tip: BYOB is accepted, so don’t forget to schlepp along with your favourite bottle (or two) of wine.

As the name suggests, Bread in Common excels in organic artisanal loaves of bread, uniquely baked in volcanic rock ovens; you’d be a fool not to indulge. Alongside its gluten fixtures, Bread in Common has an extensive seasonal menu featuring mouthwatering items like black pepper spiced pork chops and beef minute steak sandwiches. The industrial warehouse dates back to the 1890s and still oozes with historical charm and authentic heritage details. No gay Perth guide is complete without a brunch option, and Sayers Sisters fits the bill with finesse and style. That said, this classic Perth brunch spot is no longer a well-kept secret, so expect plenty of fellow boisterous breakfast goers indulging in caramelized banana waffles, leek and parmesan croquettes and, of course, the obligatory morning mimosas. The interior is lovely, with antique decor and glass pendant lights, but it’s the cosy sidewalk porch we can’t get enough of.

QT Perth

QT Perth

Shopping in Perth

An iconic Perth menswear fashion destination since 1895, Parker and Co has an excellent eye for luxurious men’s apparel that’s equally casual and comfortable—without sacrificing style and quality. Owners Victor and Deborah Tana are so committed to cutting-edge luxurious menswear that they travel to Europe each year to source the finest up-and-coming designers and labels. Expect renowned names like Brioni, Kiton and John Lobb as well. A one-stop shop for fashionable men, Gingers for Gentlemen is a unique concept shop offering an eclectic mix of clothing, footwear, grooming products, and homewares. Come for timeless, classic pieces to keep you looking sharp no matter where your life and travels take you.

One of Perth’s quirkiest shops, Pigeonhole is all about ‘offbeat design found off the beaten track.’ There’s a particular emphasis given to independent brands and local creative talent, though you’ll find a broad range of beautiful designs that have been carefully curated to line the shelves. With a little bit of everything, this is the perfect spot to meander when you’re not quite sure what it is you need (or want.) For stylish homeware and gifts with a distinct Scandinavian influence, Arrival Hall is the obvious choice. Wander their expansive Northbridge location for elegant design inspiration, or grab a coffee at their in-house cafe while perusing the super stylish gifts and stationary on offer.

Explore fascinating, sacred Aboriginal art at the Japingka Gallery, a showcase of some 4,500 paintings from acclaimed aboriginal artists hailing from around the country. With mesmerizing artforms portraying a diverse range of regional styles, a visit is akin to a masterclass in aboriginal art—discovering the ideal piece for your personal collection is a bonus.

Arrival Hall | Photo: Keana Shae

Arrival Hall | Photo: Keana Shae

Photo: Gyorgy Bakos

Photo: Gyorgy Bakos

Perth nightlife

No Perth gay nightlife guide is complete without Connections Nightclub, a gay institution that has been throwing the best dance parties and theme nights since 1975. With an intimate downstairs lounge, breezy rooftop terrace and energetic dance area, there’s a little something for everyone here. That said, don’t miss their legendary drag shows for a riotous good time. Geisha Bar is a decadent, gay-popular club where it’s not uncommon to rub shoulders with up-and-coming celebrities and fashion icons. It nearly goes without saying you should dress to impress; the sexy red velvet curtains, plush leather lounge, and renowned international DJs are all well worth the effort.

Varnish on King is a cosy Perth basement drinking den hidden away in a 1921 heritage building. The owners have an evident passion for American whiskey; expect one of Perth’s most extensive ranges of bourbons, whiskeys, and rye. Their signature ‘Bacon and Whiskey’ tasting flight is as fantastically indulgent as it sounds. If rum is more your libation of choice, head over to Hula Bula Bar. With delightfully kitschy Polynesian decor, this tiki bar manages to exude an atmosphere that is endearing rather than tacky. The expertly crafted cocktails and large LGBTQ clientele don’t hurt, either.

Bar Lafayette oozes old-timey charm, with vintage decor and a dashing staff of expert mixologists. Come here for well-slung cocktails at a price point that reflects the quality and expertise behind each pour. You can’t go wrong with the classics, though any cocktail on the pages-long menu is impeccable. In stark contrast to Perth’s unashamedly upscale cocktail bars, Choo Choo’s Bar is purposefully laid-back and unconventional. Convivial bartenders serve bespoke cocktails in a small, often crowded, dive-bar atmosphere. Mechanics’ Institute is one of Perth’s top rooftop bars, not necessarily for its skyline views, but rather it’s award-winning bartenders. Inspired by the mechanics’ institutes of the 1800s, learning establishments that doubled as “third spaces,” this split-level deck serves top-notch cocktails and downright tasty Flipside burgers.

Varnish on King

Varnish on King

Varnish on King

Varnish on King

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