Is there a straight equivalent of a gay bathhouse?
January 7, 2017 5:33 AM   Subscribe

I recently read an article about gay bathhouses in my city. I'm interested in something similar for straight people - in two ways. First, a place where you can pay a daily fee to essentially use a sauna and Second, a place like that where sex is not necessarily encouraged but ignored.

Googling seems to indicate this is only something for gay men. I'm a straight woman, and I'd like to have a steam room to go to, and if it was also a place I could end up engaged in sex, with the partner I bring or find there, even better.

What am I looking for?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

If such a place were to exist I'd imagine it would immediately fill up with creepy dudes and drive all the women away, then when the owners notice it's all dudes, they rebrand as a gay bathhouse.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:48 AM on January 7, 2017 [91 favorites]

Yeah my guess is that if you want a place where women are welcome and also safe, you want an actual sex club with vetted membership and people on the payroll who make sure things stay safe.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:51 AM on January 7, 2017 [33 favorites]

Some men's bathhouses do have co-ed nights (example from google) and I have read of a number that opened as dedicated co-ed facilities, so you should have some options. For saunas without the sexual vibe, you will obviously have more places to choose from.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 AM on January 7, 2017

Can't help with the second half of your request, but for the first half, try searching "water spa" or "water therapies spa" for your city. There are lots of spas that have sauna / steam room / hot and cold pool cycles for taking the water. They usually include taking the water in the price of a massage or facial, but generally speaking you can also pay to simply take the water.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:59 AM on January 7, 2017

There used to be a place in San Diego that was kind of similar, but more like a hotel where you rent a room with a hot tub for a while for your own private thing rather than being a place to meet new partners. So, there was a sauna and a tub, and screwing is totally understood/encouraged to happen, but pretty much with whomever you bring, not someone you meet at the venue. It's been closed for quite awhile, but that might give you clues to finding something similar, or why it's hard to find such a thing.
posted by LionIndex at 7:03 AM on January 7, 2017

There's plenty of places that have sauna/jacuzzi rooms that you can rent with or without a partner. Like this. This one appears to have hookers available as well, but the one in my city is actually a very clean and elegant place for a date. But I don't know of any places that have communal mixed-sex facilities where you could safely have sex with a male stranger.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:16 AM on January 7, 2017

Can't help with the second part, but if you're looking for a sauna, try googling "turkish bathhouse."
posted by colfax at 7:18 AM on January 7, 2017

If such a place were to exist I'd imagine it would immediately fill up with creepy dudes

I've heard that a lot of gay bathhouses, at least in smaller cities, are like this anyway.
posted by AFABulous at 7:34 AM on January 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you're in Toronto there's Oasis aqualounge, which is a swinger club with open access to pool, hot tub, sauna. Depending on your city there may be something similar.
posted by platypus of the universe at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Not exactly an open bathhouse, but there is this chain in the Chicago area, Sybaris, which is more aimed at couples. Romantic spa is the keyword for a place like this one.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

NYC supposedly has an aqua lounge swingers' club in Queens, but I can't find a non-sketchy website to support that so I think it might be closed. There is also Spa Castle in Queens. The facility makes it very clear that PDA is not allowed, but it's got quite the reputation for people hooking up in the pools anyway.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 7:53 AM on January 7, 2017

There are co-ed bath houses in London that cater to this. They are split between open admission and evenings where men must be accompanied by women.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:55 AM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I understand the Power Exchange in San Francisco was/is a little like this. Although not really a bathhouse, more of a sex club. And pretty heavy on queer and BDSM culture. Anyway here's an article about it.
posted by Nelson at 10:16 AM on January 7, 2017

I'm a straight woman, and I'd like to have a steam room to go to

Any number of gyms / health clubs have steam rooms and saunas. Sometimes it's just one, in between the locker rooms, for both men and women. The better clubs have a separate one for each sex, where clothing's optional.

...and if it was also a place I could end up engaged in sex, with the partner I bring or find there

This, however, is actively discouraged in any gym. As noted upthread, however, there may be places in your area where you can go with a partner to use a private bath and steam room.
posted by Rash at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

As I understand things, Sybaris is a hotel with pools/whatever in each room, not just "aimed at couples", but actually limited to couples.

When I read your question, I was reminded of stories from the ~late 70s/early 80s regarding Esalen. The wikipedia article goes into details re various programs, and Esalen has always included such activities. But people talked way more about the baths.

(Granted, I may have run with a particularly shallow crowd.)
posted by she's not there at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2017

To answer your first question - check out a Korean Spa. I went to one recently and -wow- awesome. Multiple whirlpools, saunas, lounge areas etc. You could do a daily fee just to be in the spas or you could also get a massage etc. More here:.

For the second part, if it exists, it probably isn't publicized - so you may need to find a crowd that is into that sort of thing first.
posted by Toddles at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check your local community on Fetlife for info on events for women and/or at spas/saunas. Also, there might be events at private homes with a vibe similar to what you describe. Worth getting a Fetlife account just to nose around the local message boards, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 7:04 AM on January 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

The straight equivalents are generally places where you and a partner can pay a fee to book a private sauna/hot tub room and nobody is going to stop you from having sex as long as you're not disruptive about it. Since you're anonymous I don't know what part of the country you're in, but in the SF Bay Area, this would be places like Watercourse Way in Palo Alto, Piedmont Springs in Oakland, Berkeley Sauna in Berkeley, Albany Sauna in Albany, and The Hot Tubs chain (there's one in Berkeley and one in SF). The Hot Tubs has a reputation for being a bit sketchier and the sort of place where paid liaisons take place. The other places are much more geared toward general relaxation and are totally used for non-sex reasons as well as sex reasons.

To find a mixed-gender place where you can meet people for sex reasons there, you'll need to look for either adult/swinger/lifestyle clubs and resorts (like Scarlet Ranch in Denver, Sybaris in Chicago, or the more luxury experience-oriented resorts like Hedonism), or go to sex clubs.

Or you could find some sex-positive hippie-type friends and have them point you to other types of places where these things are known to happen and condoned (like Esalen referenced above, or Harbin Hot Springs in northern CA).

And as everyone else has already said, if you just wanna hang out naked and do spa things, search for Korean spas, Russian banyas, or Turkish bathhouses. These generally have a reasonable fee for using the facilities (sauna, hot tub, steam room, cold plunge, showers) and you can pay extra for things like body scrubs and massage and facials.
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:47 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Speaking as an Oaklander, please do not have sex at Piedmont Springs. It's inconsiderate to the people who work there and to everybody else who uses the space after you.

There basically are no straight tea houses. If you want to have sex in public, find somewhere that has public play spaces. But please don't have sex in spas and saunas that aren't set up with that intention.
posted by Lexica at 8:31 PM on January 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

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