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 luxurious 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.
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, Pleasuredrome 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.
Just around the corner from Pleasuredrome is Chariot’s only other London branch (it previously had a 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.
After a night of wading through the great unwashed beards of east London’s hipsters, Sailors offers a much welcome bit of civilisation. It has 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 after hours can bring an excellent 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 revolutionizes 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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