Gay Sauna, Gay Steam Room, Gay Onsen, Gay Bathhouse. These are all the same names for a quintessential part of gay culture: a venue where men go to have sex with men. Pure, hypersexual, steamy, erotic SEX.
While globally gay saunas have been decimated by hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff (and an increased cultural acceptance of the LGBT community), many guys still enjoy the anonymity, the social environment, the facilities, or the ease of access these venues provide.
In fact, in some parts of the world, principally Western Europe and Asia, new high-end gay saunas are opening, and their popularity seems to be growing again! And with this fashionableness, a new generation of gays is becoming intrigued, wondering: what happens in a gay sauna?
So, if you have landed here on this website, we assume you are considering having your first-time gay sauna experience. Or just want to brush up on your gay sauna etiquette. We are not prudes; we are sex-positive and encourage everyone curious to visit a gay sauna and see what they are all about.
Maybe it’s for you, perhaps it not….but at least you will find out!
Don’t be too worried; most guys here are very welcoming to newbies, and at no point will you ever have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. Ask the attendant if you’re confused – or take a friend, and be sure to choose the best gay sauna nearby by using our gay city guides!
Either way – let’s get started and prepare you for what you can expect!
In this article we will cover...
What Happens In A Gay Sauna?
To put it simply, a gay sauna caters to men who have sex with men. Married, bisexual, gay, whatever – everyone is here with the same thing in mind. However, some men do come to unwind and relax, and others want to get in, get off and get out as fast as possible. It’s up to you, and of course, it depends on the sauna’s size and amenities if you have some specific play ideas.
When you visit a gay sauna for the first time, you will generally receive a towel to wrap around your waist and a key for a locker or private room/ cabin. Some venues charge for each separately; others include it all in one entrance fee. We recommend a locker for your first gay sauna experience.
Onside inside, you typically undress, store your clothes, and wander to whatever amenities take your fancy. Jacuzzi, bar, open showers or steam rooms are generally the most common. Then the gay sauna cruising can begin. When you find a suitable match, well, basically everywhere here is fair game unless otherwise stated, so you can be as public or discreet as you want.
Gay saunas often seek to further the fantasy and enable erotic dreams that might be dangerous or illegal in the outside world. The towels are like revisiting a high-school gym, steam rooms reminiscent of the cruisy YMCAs, and dark rooms instead of the bushes in a public park.
A few gay saunas even have prison cell rooms, fetish dungeons, or orgy spaces if that is what you desire. Kinky!
If that is not enough – sometimes set days are set for specific types of gay men, meaning you are more likely to find just what you are looking for. Bear, leather, twink, jocks, chub. You name it! There are also themed nights, and parties include full-naked, gang-bang, lights off, kink, and more.
Guys spend as much or as little time here as they want, with many saunas’ being 24/7 – especially over the weekend. If it is quiet when you arrive or you want to take a break in-between, you can always enjoy the bar, relax in the lounge, or sweat out those toxins in the steam room.
At the end of the day (or night), what happens in a gay sauna is up to you!
General Gay Sauna Facilities
During the 1970s sexual revolution, where many gay men adopted the ‘f*ck-anything-that-moves’ approach to life, many gay saunas changed from dark, cramped spaces hidden down unnamed alleys to palaces of sin and pleasure. With them, the dream gay bathhouse experience was born!
With this golden age came a swath of new facilities, many of which are now synonyms with the gay sauna experience today. Gay sauna varies considerably in size and amenities – from small, bare-bones basic locations and only a few lockers to huge multi-story gay saunas with multiple steam rooms, 10-men jacuzzi’s, swimming pools, and gyms.
However, these are the most common facilities you can expect to find:
- Changing Room – A place to drop your clothes off, switch into the ubiquitous white towel, and lock up anything you’ve brought with you. Keys with stretchy bracelets are generally provided, which you can easily keep on your ankle or wrist. We never recommend taking more valuables that you need here, but take exact care in countries where theft is more common. Good gay sauna should have condoms and lube here, but many do not so best to bring your travel supplies.
- Shower Area – Next, you absolutely have to take a shower. Seriously, it just makes sense. Most saunas have a long row of open showers where you wash up and can see if there is anyone nice you might want to hook up with. Hot and steamy action can take place here if you don’t mind others watching, but why rush?
- Steam Room – A relaxing space to sweat out as many toxins as possible. Without the steam room/sauna, any gay sauna becomes a cruise club. Guys often retreat here to unwind, but discreet advances can be welcomed.
- Sauna -The distinction between a sauna along with a steam room could be summarized easily — dry vs. damp. Dry heat is offered by saunas, while steam rooms create moist heat. Both may start your skin pores, ease up the muscles of yours, and enable you to loosen up. It is up to you to decide which you prefer! Sometimes you get lucky, and they are even the traditional Finnish sauna-like we found in Helsinki.
- Whirlpool – Bubbly fun, where you can socialize and ease yourself into everything. Make-out sessions are fine, but sex of any kind is forbidden here for obvious hygiene reasons.
- Relaxation Lounge – Many locals head to their closest gay sauna for more than just the cruisy atmosphere. Some have bars serving alcoholic drinks, others have dance floors with DJs or even live shows. Otherwise known as the ‘dry areas,’ no action is allowed in these spaces in most establishments – but follow the lead of everyone else if you’re unsure.
- Dark Rooms – Anything goes in this kinky zone. The lights are off, and all you can see are the outlines of other guys. Usually not advised for your first time gay sauna experience, but if you don’t have any preference of who you get with and are turned on by anonymity, then why not give it a try? Be careful, however, as in the dark most guys don’t use a condom as no one can see. We hate this practice and don’t think it is in any way acceptable. And yes, guys: “No” means “no,” even in the dark.
- Private Rooms – Separable rooms with either a wipeable pad on the floor or a mattress on a bench are a mainstay of any gay bathhouse experience. You’ll figure it all out pretty quick but suffice to say: a door left open can be an invitation to watch or join those inside. Depending on the gay bathhouse, these can be an additional charge or included in the overall entrance fee.
Gay Sauna Etiquette
Yes, even in these palaces of pleasure, rules apply. Brush up on your gay sauna etiquette to ensure you have a good time and don’t ruin it for everyone else. Gay sauna cruising involves learning a whole new language, but thankfully, it is pretty straightforward.
- Condoms – Gay saunas customarily have an abundant source of condoms located everywhere you might need them, and you will probably be handed a few when you check-in. However, some countries do not make this a legal requirement, and far too many guys decide not to use them. Guys are not discussing their HIV status, recent tests, or PreP through a glory hole, so simply insisting on condoms. There are other STI’s to worry about also, and if one guy says he only enjoy bareback, then move on to the next. His loss, right?
- Keys – Depending on the gay sauna, you will get keys at check-in for your locker- and private room if you have purchased one. If you get an elastic band, place on your left side to indict you are a top or your right hand to indict bottom. Not everyone uses this rule, but it can help you quickly identify potential guys.
- Clothes – They have all got to go. There is a towel given on arrival for a reason, and while sexy jockstraps, tight thongs or fetish underwear that show off your bubble butt might be acceptable – streetwear never is. Go commando or check out these hot gay underwear ideas.
- Noise – You are going to notice pretty quick the cardinal rule: Homo’s shouldn’t speak in a gay sauna. Silence is golden, communication is through eye contact and touching, and listening to guys chat away can be a massive turn off. Gay bars are for chatting, not gay saunas.
- That Look – Since no one’s talking, the other type of interaction besides touching is facial expressions. In case somebody is interested, they will typically attempt making eye contact and perhaps even create just a little smile, possibly slowing down as they cruise by. Likewise, a lack of eye contact implies that they re not interested. Easy!
- Touching – In many areas, randomly touching somebody is a huge no-no. But since your not talking, you are going to have to get used to communicating by other means. Therefore do not be offended in case a guy contacts your butt or arm or perhaps even your cock. If you are comfortable and sure you have been given ‘the look’: do not hesitate to signal the interest of yours in a similar manner. Above all, watch out for hints. If the guy shakes his head, stop all touching and don’t try again. You can apply the same rule, and if someone is very persistent, clearly say ‘no thanks.
- Fragrances – Showering is fundamental to ensure you smell good but please, do not use perfumes, strong deodorant, or even colognes during any gay bathhouse experience. Plenty of guys are hypersensitive to them, and the scene will stay in the sauna long after you have finished.
- Top or bottom? – One of the most challenging parts ofgay sauna cruising is finding out who desires to top and who wished to bottom. Aside from the positioning of the keys, or wrist bracelets in some gay sauna, it is hard to tell sometimes. The trick? Guys will grab the part they are interested in most. If he grabs your cock, he is searching for a top. An ass squeeze suggests he desires just that.
- Dark Rooms – In case you want some truly anonymous sex, this is exactly where you head to. There’ll generally be an orgy of men in there, sucking, groping, and perhaps fucking. The look won’t work here, and touching is the only way to communicate. Sadly, many guys head here for barebacking and to avoid using a condom. Since it is hard to tell, be extra careful and maybe avoid until you are more comfortable.
- Watching – If you start getting hot and heavy in public, etiquette dictates everyone can watch. If that creeps you out, find a private stall, room, or area. You can leave the door open if you want others to join, and a simple head nod or shake can let guys know to join in or stay out.
Top Tips Before Visiting A Gay Sauna
Whether you are a total newbie or a seasoned veteran who has made the local gay sauna your second home, everyone should note these top gay sauna tips.
Trust us; they are going to make your time so much easier!
- Bring A DrawString Backpack / Cinch Sack – Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say – and there is a reason while women are all ‘Purse First.’ Gay men off to the sauna should have these useful lite-weight bags hung over their shoulders. Keep all of your gear together, and if you don’t want to pay for a locker, you have everything easily kept together. You won’t be wearing any of your clothes, but you will want to find them in the end…
- Pack It With Your Own Travel Supplies – While most gay sauna should have lube and condoms, many do not – and even if they do, quality varies a lot. Pack your travel kit of supplies to stay safe, and if you are a bottom, also add in your travel douche. What is the use of paying to enter into a sexual setting in case you will have to go back home in the worst-case scenario?
- Cash Is King – Most gay saunas are cash only, which many customers prefer to protect their privacy. If nothing else, you might want to buy a drink from the bar or vending machine after a work-out. In some countries, it’s also better to take as little valuables as possible with you.
- Where are your Flip Flops? – Many gay saunas will not allow you to go barefoot, and even if they do, why would you want to? Shoes are generally clunky – and a tad unsexy! Plus, are you prepared to get them wet? Beach flip flops are perfect for keeping your feet off the sometimes less-than-hygienic floors and are easy to get off in the heat of the moment.
- Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid – If someone offers you a sip of their drink, don’t take it. While no overly-common, guys have been known to lace drinks with GBH – a club drug, which is very easy to overdose on and deadly when combined with alcohol. Just a few drops are enough to feel the impacts, so it is almost impossible to tell if anything has been spiked. An overdose on G will land you inside the Emergency Room, or even the morgue. Buy your own drinks, and be sure to keep an eye on it at all times.
- Be Careful With Other Drugs – While getting tricked into taking GBH is not unheard of, it is tougher to be duped into other illicit substances. For your first gay sauna experience, stay drug-free, and in the future, if you choose to do them, be sure you are aware of the risks. Most gay saunas have a zero-drug tolerance, and we prefer it this way.
- Call A Friend – If you are nervous about yourfirst-time gay sauna experience, take a mate who knows what they are doing. They will have your back, show you the ropes, and help you if you can’t quite find your courage. Gay bars and clubs are better with a wingman, why wouldn’t a sauna be the same?
- Let them down gently – Everyone is just here to have a good time, just like you. If they feel, flirt or grope, and you’re not interested, say so straight away. There is no need to be mean – one day, you won’t be the most desirable guy in the club and will appreciate the kindness. Be clear and concise; don’t lead them on, and most guys will quickly get the message.
- You don’t always have to have sex in a gay sauna –If you are anxious about the sex component of your first gay sauna experience, understand that you only have to do what you are comfortable with. Just indulge your voyeuristic side, watch, or be watched if that is all you want. It’s your body, and you can do with it what you want. Plus, in this case, many gay sauna featureswimming pools, steam rooms, gyms, lounges, and rec room, so you relax. But, of course – don’t be surprised when you need to consistently tell guys you are not interested; everyone is here for sex first and foremost.
- Don’t be afraid to explore outside your comfort zone – It may not wind up being your thing, but you never know until you try right. Maybe its a guy you never thought you’d be interested in, perhaps it’s a new position, toy or area. Gay saunas are a safe place to explore your untapped sexual desires, so try not toput yourself in a box that might limit your enjoyment.
And there you have, now you are prepared for your first-time gay sauna experience. While our etiquette tips and rules are aimed at guys who are curious about gay sex sauna, we know that these spaces are not everyone’s ideal fantasy world.
Without sounding like a sex-crazed preacher, we hope this gay sauna guide helps increase awareness and tolerance of this important part of queer culture. We are all judged enough, so there is no need to judge each other. Just be smart, be safe, and always use a condom!