When the itch makes itself felt, it’s easy to whip out your favourite app and see what’s on offer in the local area. Another option could be to call that reliable f**k buddy. But sometimes, something a little more adventurous than the old sesh of ‘Netflix and Chill’ is called for.
Saunas offer a safe and welcoming environment to get your kit and your rocks off. They are particularly enjoyable, we hear(!) when the weather is miserable outside.
And all that steam has to be good for your skin, right?
So, in the spirit of giving a friendly hand, we’ve compiled our pick of sweltering sauna establishments around the southeast for your sweaty pleasure and moist release.
South of the river, under the gloomy railway arches next door to Waterloo station, lurks a steamy maze of iniquity particularly useful for randy commuters at a loss for occupation while waiting for their train home. If you want some privacy, and unless you find yourself a sugar daddy who already has one, you’ll have to hire a room (the price for which varies with its size and the amenities its offers). Though it’s still possible to … erm…’ enjoy’ the rest of the facility, including the new porn room.
Opening hours: 24/7, 7days a week
Entry: £20, (£12 for under 30s*)
Address: Cornwall Rd, London, SE1 8XE
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
Billing itself as “London’s busiest and best”, and handily located a stiletto-throw from Old Compton Street, this award-winning gay gym and sauna is open 24/7; and it is really willing to make you sweat. After a good workout in the fully equipped gym at ground level, why not delve into the darkened depth of the place’s three underground levels, and find out who’s happening, or perhaps hire yourself a masseur for muscular release? Under 25s get in for free on Mondays and Thursdays*. Free and confidential HIV testing is available on Friday afternoons.
Opening hours: 24/7, 7days a week
Entry: 24 hr – £20, 48 hr – £25, Weekly Pass – £45
Address: 1-2 Ramillies Street, London, W1F 7LN
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Covent Garden Health Spa
Located in a basement at the back of Covent Garden, this is the ideal place to relax after a strenuous afternoon wielding your credit card. To spice things up a little, on Saturdays from 9pm, the venue host to the Jamie HP crew for its infamous TFN (Total Fekking Nude) night. There is a capacious Jacuzzi, a licensed bar with comfy sofas, massages if you feel like one, and even an in-house barber to freshen up the do before you get done.
Opening hours: noon till 23:30 weekdays, till 2am Saturdays, till 22:30 Sundays
Entry: £19, £16 b4 2pm, (£10 for under 25s*, free on Wednesdays)
Address: 29 Endell St, London, WC2H 9BA
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
Warm yourself up in the relaxed atmosphere of this veteran of the London scene before mincing down the road to Vauxhall and that other grand old lady of the gay night: the RVT. First Thursdays of the month are “100% naked”, catering for those who like to let it all hang out, while third Wednesdays and last Saturdays of the month are naked only half the day. The venue also hosts regular “Sensual TGirl Parties” for “the transgender community and their admirers”.
Opening hours: 11:00am – 12 Midnight, 7days a week
Entry: £15, £12 b4 1pm
Address: 6 Cleaver St, London, SE11 4DP
Nearest Tube: Kennington
Saunabar London Portsea
This overlooked sauna, just off the West End, prides itself in being a “small, kindly and friendly” venue that caters for those customers who desire discretion. There is, of course, a sauna and a steam room, but the real draw of the place is its masseurs, who offer a selection of techniques, from sports massage to reflexology, via Indian Head Massage, back rubs, or Swedish Massage. With its Buddhist statues, lacquered furniture, and red furnishings, and offers a selection of free refreshments to be enjoyed while gazing at the large fish tank or a prospective new friend.
Opening hours: 11.30am to 10.30pm, 7days a week
Entry: £20, (£17 for under 25s*)
Address: 2 Portsea Place, London, W2 2BL
Nearest Tube: Marble Arch
Don’t be fooled by the butch, blind, army-grey facade; spread over three floors, this is a friendly local sauna for local people. The venue, which boasts a flowery courtyard, and an infra-red sauna as well as a dry one, regularly runs promotions and themed nights, such as its Bears Day. The restrooms are located on the first floor, while the basement is an open darkroom cum video lounge.
Normal opening hours: 10am to 9pm every day except Saturdays (8pm).
Pandemic opening hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon till 8pm, Saturdays noon till 7pm
Entry: £15.50, £13.50 cons – £8 between 6pm and 8pm (5pm and 7pm, Saturdays)
Address: 6 Leytonstone Rd, London E15 1SE
Nearest Tube: Stratford (Train: Maryland)
Anchors Ahoy! A survivor, or rather a lucky escapee of the now fallen Chariots empire, Sailors Sauna has been welcoming randy east London gays through its doors for many years. It is a rambling maze of a place, from the basement all the way to the roof garden on top. There is a complimentary buffet if you’re feeling peckish after your exertions. And once you’re done, you can go shake a leg at the White Swan round the corner, or go for a quiet drink at the Old Ship (We are saving the seamen jokes for further down the page, btw).
Temporary opening hours: noon to 10pm, 7days a week
Address: 570-574 Commercial Rd, London, E14 7JD
Nearest Tube: Limehouse (DLR)
Get laid and your leg over on your layover to or from Sitges (sorry, we are jet-lagged!). The Luton branch of this small chain of three saunas has been running for 15 years, so they must be doing someone right. Located just off the centre of town, the venue includes all the mod cons to be expected in the “UK’s premier Health Centre” for gay and bi men. And bi men get an extra helping every Tuesday from 8pm with the Centre’s Bi-tastic night. The place hosts a number of other events, some for bears, some fully naked, and somewhere you wear what you want, except a towel (TV/CD welcome).
Opening hours: 10am till midnight (Sunday to Thursday), 10am till 4am (Fridays and Saturdays)
Address: 23 Crawley Rd, Luton, LU1 1HX
ME1 Sauna, Rochester
In addition to its regular Naked Day on Wednesdays, its Furry Friday on the last Friday of the month, and its Bi-monthly night on the second and last Saturday of the month, the venue offers a fetish night on the first Saturday of the month. A free Sexual Health Testing and Information Service, provided by the local NHS Trust, is available once a month on a Thursday.
Opening hours: 10am till 9pm (Monday to Saturday), 11am till 8pm (Sundays)
Entry: £13 (£10 for Students*)
Address: Foundry Wharf, Rochester, ME1 1TH
A short 10-minute walk from either Rochester or Chatham train Station – no parking.
The Boiler Room, Hove
Oh! We do like to be beside the seaside! We do like to be beside seamen too, and we like to imagine they literally come by the shipload at Cum Union, each Friday (oooo, Matron! There they are, those jokes we promised above). If not, well, there’s still plenty to go round with the venue’s other regular sauna shindigs: bear, naked, and fetish nights will keep you amused, if more vanilla frolics are not your thing. Whatever rocks your boat, sailor! Tuesday lunchtime is the time to get tested for HIV and STIs, for free, thanks to the THT.
Opening hours: Sun – Thu: 11am – 11pm, Fri – Sat: 11am – 6.30pm
Address: 84 Denmark Villas, Hove, BN3 3TJ
*all of the venues listed above require you to be 18 or over, to enter.