Before we go any further, dear reader, you should realize this post is about a topic a lot of people might find inappropriate- SEX. Sex is a glorious thing. It’s one of the many experiences we can have that make life so much better. It also goes hand in hand with travel. More specifically, this article is about the age old institution of the gay bathhouse. So, if your sensibilities don’t allow you to engage in frank dialogue about sex or if you are one of those people who are not sex positive and shame others for their experiences then you might want to stop reading right now. You should also stop reading about it if you are a family member to me because you might learn some things you don’t want to know. But that’s your choice. You’ve been warned. Now that we’ve warned the prudes of the world, let’s dive right into our topic du jour; the best gay bathhouses in the world.
Sex When You Travel
Traveling as a gay man (or as a human in general) means you’re going to meet new people and you might find one or more of those new people pretty attractive. They might reciprocate those feelings and physical contact may ensue. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I am an extremely sex positive person and say everyone should do as they please because you only live once and sex is a wonderful experience. Attitudes towards sex use to be such that it was not a topic to be discussed. It was something to be kept between the two people engaged in the act …and that act should only happen between people of the opposite sex. Obviously the world changed and is continuing to change. Sex isn’t viewed which such sanctimonious morality by many, many people anymore.
It’s a human experience and gay men have totally embraced that experience. Just remember to always play safely.
While you’re at it, here are some things to know about gay beaches!
What is a Gay Bathhouse?
If you’re heterosexual or new to the game, you might not know what exactly is a bathhouse. Bathhouses, also known as gay saunas, are establishments with showers, lockers, often pools and hot tubs where gay men go to relax and meet other gay men. However, gay bathhouses are totally focused on sexual encounters and also include other areas for finding someone to have sex with and engaging in the acts. Essentially gay bathhouses are commercial spaces for men to have sex with other men. There is far less bathing going on then having sexual activity at these establishments. Women are typically not permitted in gay bathhouses. However, there are some establishments for women only but I wouldn’t know anything about those places.
Why Do Gay Bathhouses Exist?
If you are heterosexual, it might be hard for you to understand the level of oppression gay men and women have experienced throughout history. For much of modern history, we could be prosecuted and put in jail for having sex with the people we love. Gay men could lose their jobs and their lives could be destroyed. In some places, there was often no trial and gay men were simply put to death. These circumstances made it very difficult for gay men to meet other gay men. Sexual relations are one of the most primal human experiences and, while heterosexual people were free to pursue sex and often flaunt it, gay men were literally forced into the closet and relegated to secret encounters for fear of reprisal.
In the 1950s, bathhouses began to open around the United States and the rest of the world. These establishments became safe spaces for gay men to pursue homosexual camaraderie. In other words, gay bathhouses became safe spaces for gay men. They were places where it was safe to be gay. They were considered safe even though bathhouses were often the target of vice raids, during which police would raid the bathhouse and arrest all those present. Today, bathhouses still fulfill the same function as they always have, though the community aspect is diminishing. With the advance of LGBT equality as well as modern technology fewer and fewer find the need to visit gay bathhouses. That being said, bathhouses around the world still receive plenty of business. Who knows how long they will survive into the future.
If you are curious and have the opportunity, I suggest going to a bathhouse at least once for the experience. You might just enjoy yourself.
My Gay Bathhouse Experience
I’m sure you’re wondering if I, have ever visited a gay bathhouse during my travels. The short answer to that question is: yes. My husband and I are non-monogamous and refuse to adhere to standards of monogamy. We see monogamy as a set of rules created by heterosexual people, specifically the church, as a locus of control. We don’t see each other as needing to be controlled and prefer to not exert our will over one another when it comes to sexual exploration and love. I could write a lot about our perspective regarding relationships, love, and sexual expression but that’s not what this article is about. Suffice it to say that yes, I have visited a number of bathhouses and my husband has often visited them with me. We have a great time there and feel no shame whatsoever about it.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best gay bathhouses I’ve visited during my travels!
Read all about why gay travel matters…still!
Sun City- Paris, France
We spend a lot of time in France and Paris has become one of the cities of the world that I’ve visited most. We have our favorite restaurants, shops, and bars in the city and we are always sure to visit them. Paris is home to a number of gay bathhouses but Sun City is the crème de la crème. This bathhouse is located in the heart of Le Marais, Paris’s gay district, and not too far from all the gay bars and establishments. It’s HUGE spanning three floors and boasting a pool area, two hot tubs, smoking room, fitness center, and a lounging area. As for the naughtier aspects of this bathhouse, Sun City offers plenty of rooms with doors if you’d like to keep your encounters private. This gay bathhouse also offers a dark area, dry and exceptionally large wet sauna, and a large group room. Sun City also serves beer and other beverages as well as some food items.
Additionally, around the corner from Sun City is a cruise bar called Le Depot which is open until the early hour so the morning (think 5:00). You can often get a pass to Le Depot as Sun City because it is owned by the same people.
Address: 62 Boulevard de Sébastopol, 75003 Paris, France
Der Boiler- Berlin, Germany
While I definitely love Sun City, Der Boiler in Berlin is supposed to be one of the best saunas in Europe. I can totally understand why this claim is made because it’s pretty amazing. The place is fairly large and, most importantly, it’s one of the cleanest bathhouse I’ve ever visited. You’ll need to walk through a courtyard between to buildings to get to this bathhouse but once you’re inside you’ll find a rather spacious facility filled with fun little corners. On the top floor is where you will find the locker room, shower area, a massage parlor, and even an area to…erm…”clean out.” On the second floor, you’ll discover an outdoor area, a lounge, and a café where you can relax, have a coffee or food, and maybe re-charge for your next sexual rendezvous. The sauna is located on the bottom floor of the building and boasts a giant jacuzzi that’s usually full of men. Additional amenities include two dry saunas, showers, a dark room, private rooms, and a maze-like steam room.
Address: Mehringdamm 34, 10961 Berlin, Germany
Mustache- Zurich, Switzerland
Located within easy reach of the gay bars in District 4 of Zurich, this bathhouse is not very big but it is certainly one of the best in the city. I found Mustache to be exceptionally clean and it was pretty lively too. Mustache offers a dry sauna, steam room, foam bath, and whirlpool. There are also cubicles for private fun, a cruising area, and a bar inside. Special rates are available for younger guys and themed nights happen often.
Address: Engelstrasse 4, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Alexander Sauna- Athens, Greece
If you’re visiting Athens then you’re definitely going to explore it’s ancient history but you might want to explore something a bit naughtier and that’s where Alexander Sauna comes into play. Alexander Sauna is the premier gay bathhouse in Athens. While it is not the cleanest sauna I’ve ever visited, it is certainly clean enough. I really enjoyed the grungy atmosphere of this bathhouse that boasts dark rooms, a steam room, private cabins, jacuzzi, themed playrooms, a maze, and a massage room. It also offers a garden area where you can grab a drink and quick bite to eat. If you want free access to the bathhouse then you can stay at the Alexander Apartments sister property.
Address: Meg. Alexandrou 134, Athina 104 35, Greece
Spartacus Sauna- Puerto Vallarta. Mexico
Located in the heart of the Zona Romantica of Puerto Vallarta, this bathhouse spans four floors and is the only gay sauna in the city. It is a men only facility. Spartacus features everything you would expect to find in a bathhouse including a locker area, jacuzzi, dry sauna, steam room, cruising area, play areas, and an outdoor pool. There’s also a bar on site and a rooftop terrace for relaxing. It’s conveniently located near all the gay bars so once your night dancing ends, you can head over to continue the party.
Address: Lazaro Cardenas 240, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Babylonia in Prague
When visiting Prague, if you’re looking for a good time, you must make sure to visit Sauna Babylonia. It is the largest and most popular gay bathhouse in the city. Located fairly close to Prague’s Old Town, this bathhouse is exclusively for gay men and boasts a whole slew of amenities including cruising areas, dry sauna, steam bath, solarium, a gym, a bar, and food options.
Address: Martinska 6, Prague, Czech Republic
Club Azul- Quito, Ecuador
Perhaps it is due to the more conservative attitudes of the country, but gay bathhouses are fairly popular in Quito, Ecuador. They are still very much safe spaces where gay men can just be themselves and have a good time. Club Azul is a small gay bathhouse that is exceptionally clean offering lockers, a hot tub, steam room, video room, dark rooms, and a gym. While the nature of the place is very sexual, you can also just enjoy yourself in this gay bathhouse without the sexual tension by avoiding the more sexually charged areas.
Address: Mariscal Foch, Av. 6 de Diciembre E9-36 y, Quito 170143, Ecuador
G.I. Joe- Montreal, Canada
The first bathhouse I ever visited was G. I. Joe in Montreal and it was quite a fun experience albeit a bit more subdued than future experiences. My husband and I decided to be wild and visit a bathhouse while we were in Montreal and, since it was our first time, he was a bit more reserved about the whole situation. This bathhouse is awesome! It’s located in the heart of Montreal’s gay village and is spread out over three floors. As you explore this large gay bathhouse, you’ll discover public play areas with slings, a hot tub, dry sauna, steam room, glory holes, and more. It gets especially busy later at night and on the weekends.
Address: 1166 St Catherine St E, Montreal, Quebec H2L 2G7, Canada
Casanova in Barcelona
Located a short walk from the gay bars of Barcelona in Eixample, Casanova is the gay bathhouse to go to when visiting the city. It is typically busy anytime of the day and boasts a bit of a younger crowd. Open 24 hours a day, the bathhouse offers a swimming area featuring a 6 person jacuzzi which is definitely an invitation to get frisky. Other amenities include private rooms, dark area, a bar, dry sauna, steam room, and of course free condoms. It’s easy to lose track of time in Casanova.
Address: Carrer de Casanova, 57, 08011 Barcelona, Spain
Club Fort Lauderdale
If you’re visiting Fort Lauderdale then you’re definitely going to enjoy its super lively and active gay scene. Head over to Club Fort Lauderdale if you want to meet other men, relax, and socialize in a naughtier way. Open 24 hours a day, this gay bathhouse has a modern aesthetic and offers all the amenities you’d expect in a gay bathhouse including a jacuzzi, private rooms, full gym, and more. What really sets this bathhouse apart is it’s massive outdoor courtyard that features a heated pool, jacuzzi, and plenty of space to get frisky.
Address: 110 NW 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, USA, 33311
Would you live a little and go to a bathhouse?
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