Love & Sex

London’s Gay Saunas: A Guide

Look at the website of any gay sauna in the world and they’ll either describe themselves as ‘the best’ or ‘the busiest’ - then you walk through the door and find the only cocks there are a couple of cockroaches getting it on in the grouting of the Jacuzzi. gives you the real lowdown on London’s finest ‘Gentlemen’s Health Spas’.

The Stable
Tucked away just off Covent Garden, this small but well-appointed sauna was formerly known as Saunabar. Why it’s now called The Stable is anyone’s guess – and the name itself does not necessarily guarantee a parade of horse hung hunks who can take your eye out at ten paces. The main space is a long bar complete with elegant seating and kind lighting; indeed, it rather resembles one of the more sophisticated gay bars – if you can imagine such a thing. Run a tab in between taking a dip in the giant Jacuzzi – the biggest one in any gay sauna in London, and retreating to one of the private cabins for some noisy action.

Chariots Vauxhall
Branches of Chariots used to be all over London – like a fast food chain - for fellatio. The Liverpool street venue, in east London, was for many years the largest sauna in the UK but sadly closed earlier this year to make way for yet another luxury hotel, which will probably just be used for much the same purpose: as a knocking shop – only for fat, middle-aged straight men. Chariots Vauxhall is now the flagship. Its boasts 500 lockers, a dark room and two vast saunas. The place is huge and popular with the clubbing crowd, however, the rigorous door searches and security’s tendency to march up and down the maze of corridors shining lights on the clientele to check they’re not doing anything they’re not supposed to is arguably a downside. But there’s something refreshingly liberating about falling out of here at 10am after a night of infinite shame to face the MI6 building which sits opposite.

One of London’s oldest gay saunas is just across the road from Waterloo train station, and yes, you guessed it – under a railway arch, meaning you can time your squirtathon with the roar of a commuter express overhead. Like European saunas, this one also has a bar (rare for London), complete with cheap doubles and a license to serve them 24 hours a day! There’s a 400-locker changing room, dark room, three saunas, a Jacuzzi and a plenty of private cabins – some of which you can rent by hour – much like some of the men you’ll find in these establishments.

Chariots Waterloo
Just around the corner from Pleasuredrome is Chariot’s only other London branch (it previously had venue in Streatham, south London, now also closed). There’s a 40-man sauna and 35 cabins, along with a mini-café which at least used to serve a reasonable lasagne, but to be fair anything tastes reasonable when you’ve been on a 12-hour bender – including the men.

Sailors Limehouse
After a night of wading through the great unwashed beards of east London’s hipsters, Sailors offers a much welcome bit of civilisation: a large TV lounge (which admittedly on a bad night can resemble the reception room of a retirement home), a 20-man Jacuzzi (if you can find 20 men you’re happy to swish around with) and two floors of cabins. The White Swan pub – an east end institution known for its fabulous drag acts – is close by, meaning that afterhours can bring a fine selection of east end rough trade.

Image: Courtesy of Sweatbox Soho

London saunas don’t come any better than Sweatbox. Situated in the throbbing heart of Soho – a short walk from the gay village – this gay owned and run establishment revolutionises the sauna experience: it’s a sauna and a gym rolled into one. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, you can join as a member or choose from a variety of passes letting you come and go as you please. Let’s face it, when we lie back in that steam room it’s not our pores we’re gagging to get opened. Whatever your taste, you’ll find the hottest guys here – often revved up and ready to go fresh from their workout. Brace yourself indeed!

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Love & Sex

Rekindling the flame

All relationships go through tough times, straight or gay. The trick is weathering them and coming out the other end – preferably stronger. Alex Hopkins takes a look at the ways you can avoid that ‘Brangelina’ breakup.

Get inventive in the bedroom
Once the sex goes, you know you’re in trouble. Hard questions are needed: do you still fancy one another? If not, why is there no longer an attraction? Try out some new tricks. Blindfold him with that floral tea-towel your auntie got you for Christmas or take up dogging/parking lot sex – get adventurous.

The reason most relationships fall apart is because people don’t talk to one another. Sharing your feelings is vital if you’re going to keep things alive. But brace yourself for some cold hard truths. Utter honesty is the ground zero you can rebuild from.

Create moments
Life and routine has taken over. All you both ever seem to do is work, and then you just plunk yourself in front of the TV each evening. Do something special once a week. Recreate the date nights from your early days together. Pretend you’re ‘courting’ again, as the straights said in the old days.

Pros and cons
What brought you together in the first place? What is keeping you together now? Sometimes a good dose of pragmatism is called for. What are the benefits of staying in this relationship? Ultimately, you need to look at the payoffs and decide whether it’s worth investing any more of your time here.

Get funny, get cheeky – even get bitchy. If it means you both find something to scream with laughter about, do it. Lighten things up. Laughing together is a quick, easy way of releasing pressure and getting rid of that anger.

Stop being boring
You know what they say about straights becoming boring once they’ve been together a few years, well it’s no different with gays. You’ve stopped seeing your friends, you’re spending your Sundays at the DIY store, and you’ve now got three cats who you talk to more than one another. It’s time to get back into the real world. Reconnect with others, take up some new interests – together.

When did you stop telling him he looked hot? If you’ve stopped getting compliments from him, it’s probably because you’ve stopped giving them. You’re taking one another for granted; neither of you are making the effort to make one another feel attractive anymore, which of course, increases the probability that you’ll go seeking that extra frisson outside your relationship. Act now!

Cut the hostility
You’re giving one another the look of Eva Braun. The atmosphere in your home is like a mass comedown at a chillout. When it gets to the point that you dread being in one another’s company, desperate measures are called for. Someone needs to break the stalemate – make it you.

Open things up…
Open relationships are common in gay life, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. Still, it’s a conversation you can have. If it’s just the sex that’s died, then this may work – but if something deeper is wrong, flinging your DNA at strangers could just be a quick fix which could lead to an even greater explosion, so consider carefully…

Love & Sex

Is he really into you?

There’s something wrong. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but that guy of your dreams has been acting strangely. Is your relationship on the way out? And, if so, how can you be sure? Alex Hopkins takes a look at those tell-tale signs.

Plans? What plans?
Those ‘date nights’ are a thing of the past, in fact your partner seems to be making every excuse possible for not wanting to be with you. And then, comes the ultimate insult: you finally shoehorn them into attending the local Salsa class and they conveniently forget all about it.

How very dare you?!
Gone are all the compliments and out comes their passive aggression. You’re at a party and your partner gets in a little jibe about your weight in front of mutual friends. Watch out: next he’ll be remarking on your double chins or love handles when you’re pulling your cum face.

Mr Mysterious
Why does he keep changing the subject when you mention Mark from Accounts Payable who you met at that awkward work party the previous week? And why the sudden urge to join a 24-hour gym - which, your research reveals, has a rather active all-male sauna…?

Flab and body odour
That gorgeous hunk with the six-pack you fell in love with, the body he sculpted just for you – what happened to that? Dear Lord, he’s let himself go! Now he has body odour that could strip pine – a sure fire way for you to keep your distance.

My new mates
Once it was just the two of you. God, you even did that vile thing that all couples do when they get together: immediately abandon even your longest serving friends. But suddenly, there’s a new bunch of people on the horizon, and he's constantly out with them – but strangely elusive when you ask for the details…

The phone that just rings and rings. Then the phone that goes straight to answerphone. Then the message that is never returned. Then the text message that you can see has been ‘read’ but is not replied to for days. Then the call that is finally answered where you’re made to feel like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction for just asking for common courtesy of not being ignored.

I’m too tired
Sex? What’s that? You pop under the duvet on Sunday morning to nosh them off and they slap you away and look at you like you’re some sort of pervert. Then the usual lines: “I’m too tired”; “I’m stressed, it’s not you.” No, it’s definitely not you, as you discover when you take a sly look at his phone and see not one but three hook-up apps glaring at you…

What are your experiences / tips when the relationship goes sour? Share below.