First Time At A Gay Sauna? Here’S What To Do

Considering going to a gay sauna for the first time but don’t know what to expect? Consider this your ultimate guide!

Gay sauna, gay Onsen, gay steam room, or gay bathhouse are all different names for the same iconic part of gay culture — a venue for men to meet up and have sex. These establishments get really hot and heavy, allowing guys like you to live out their erotic top or bottom dreams. Head in with an open mind (and a few tips), and you’ll have the time of your life. 

You likely have a lot of questions, but we’re going to answer them all. From managing expectations to understanding the facilities to knowing the etiquette, we uncover everything below.

Gay friends

Here’s What to Expect at a Gay Sauna

Gay saunas cater to men who like men — bisexual, married, single, gay, etc. Most people have the same thing on their mind, while others are just there to relax. Whatever you do, it’s up to you. But here’s what to expect:

  1. You receive a towel and a key for a locker when you arrive. You can pay extra for a private room, but we recommend sticking with a locker for your first gay sauna visit.
  2. You head to the changing rooms to undress and store your valuables/clothes.
  3. Always take a shower before walking around. The open showers will likely be the first area you arrive in after changing.
  4. After that, start gay sauna cruising! Visit the jacuzzi, bar, steam rooms, saunas, and other facilities to get a taste of the action, and when you find someone you like, everywhere is fair game (unless stated otherwise)! You can be as discreet or as public as you like.

The Most Common Gay Sauna Facilities

We have the 1970s sexual revolution to thank for the swathe of facilities offered by gay saunas today. Whether it’s the bare-bones locations with just a handful of lockers or massive, multi-story gay saunas with handfuls of steam rooms, huge jacuzzis, and gyms, you’re bound to find something (and somebody) that takes your fancy. 

Here are the most common spaces:

Changing Rooms

If the mere mention of the phrase “changing rooms” brings fear of terrible odors from your high school gym days, you aren’t alone. Plenty of people feel the same way. But, you’ll be pleased to know that changing areas in gay saunas are worlds apart from sweat-scented rooms in schools. Ever since the AIDS epidemic struck, staff at these establishments have been extra cautious about keeping all areas clean — changing rooms included.

Inside, you’ll typically find lockers for storing clothes and valuables, alongside a towel for wrapping around your waist. Most gay saunas have condoms and lubricant here, too. Although, we always recommend bringing your own.


Before stepping into the action, you’ll head to the showers. Just don’t expect cubicles. Typically, these saunas have a row of open showers for you to wash yourself and take a peek at the others. Don’t be shy about looking, but don’t stare either. It’s a balancing act that can be tricky to master, but oh so worth it. 

If you see someone you might want to hook up with, you can get hot and heavy in the showers. However, you’ll need to be happy for others to watch — privacy isn’t available in this area. 


No sex allowed here (but a kiss or five is fine). Consider it the perfect space to kick back, relax, and ease yourself into the experience. But you should expect looks, advances, and potentially physical contact, like with open showers.


Saunas offer dry heat to open your skin pores, ease muscles, and allow you to loosen up. Temperatures range from 155°F to 212°F, with a humidity level of 20%, so expect some sweating. Naturally, it’s also a great place to check out guys you want to have fun with.

Steam Room

Unlike saunas, steam rooms use moist heat. So, guys use this space to relax and sweat out all the skin’s toxins. Although, discreet advances are allowed.

If you’re a shier visitor, steam rooms can help take the edge off. While the lights are fairly low everywhere, the sheer amount of steam here clouds the vision, making it easier to subtly connect with the stud you’ve spotted. Just always be prepared to accept a rejection with grace — there are plenty more men in the sauna.

Bar and Relaxation Lounge

Since every gay sauna is different, we can’t say for certain what type of lounge to expect. Some have dance floors with live shows or DJs, others have alcohol-serving bars, and the rest have both. Regardless, they’re dubbed “dry areas,” meaning no raunchy action allowed.


They’re incredibly small, closet-esque rooms without closures. They’re made for public sex, so if you aren’t ready to put on that kind of show, it’s best to avoid heading inside with your latest partner.

Private Rooms

Complete with a floor pad or mattress, private rooms have doors so you and your fling can have some sexy alone time. Just make sure the door is definitely closed first — an open door is a sign for others to join in or watch. 

Video Rooms

Otherwise known as porn rooms, they’re cinema-type facilities that give you the visual stimulation you might need to get started. These shared spaces are usually free, but some establishments rent them out for an extra (pretty high) fee.

Dark Rooms

As the name suggests, dark rooms are unlit for preserving anonymity. It’s so dark you’ll see nothing but others’ outlines — perfect for the “anything goes” nature of these areas.

We wouldn’t normally advise first timers to venture into these kinky depths. However, if you’re turned on by not knowing your partners, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a go. But be careful, some guys won’t use condoms in the dark. This practice is completely unacceptable, so get ready to say no to those who fail to wrap up.

Kink/Fetish Dungeons

Depending on the gay sauna, you may have access to fetish dungeons, orgy rooms, or themed areas to unleash your deepest, darkest fantasies with a consenting partner. This isn’t necessarily common practice, but some of the best establishments offer these one-of-a-kind zones.

Basic Gay Sauna Etiquette

Regardless of where you are in the establishment, here are the unspoken (but necessary) etiquette rules to remember:

Staff Have the Final Say

Staff are there to keep you safe and ensure the facility runs smoothly. Their words are final, even if they set out a guideline that differs to the common rules established here.

Ditch the Garments

If you don’t like public nudity, you probably won’t enjoy a gay sauna. The aim of the game is to strip everything off as soon as possible and stuff it in a locker. The provided towel offers some modesty while you get used to your surroundings.

The only exception? Fetish wear or a jockstrap might be acceptable, but check whether it’s allowed beforehand.

Always Bring Condoms

Most gay saunas have an abundance of condoms, no matter where you are. However, it isn’t a legal requirement in every country. So, it’s always worth bringing your own. Some guys go bareback, but we’re hoping we don’t have to explain the inherent risks of this dangerous practice (STIs)!

No Talking

Silence is the golden rule in gay saunas. Communication is done solely through touching and eye contact.

Granted, this might seem a little creepy at first. However, listening to a couple of guys chatting is a huge turn off. So, if you want to have a chat, head to a gay bar. 

Cash only at a gay bathhouse

Cash Only

Cash remains king in the gay bathhouse world, including at the bars inside. Why? Discretion. Most people don’t want their trips to appear on their bank statements — some consider it an embarrassing thing to explain to mortgage providers.

Learn to Read the Signals

As mentioned, nobody’s talking. Therefore, you have to learn how to read the signals.

If somebody is interested in you, they’ll try to make eye contact and maybe give you a small smile. At times, they’ll even slow down as they cruise past to ensure you get the message.

Random touching can occur, too. Some men may touch your arm, butt, or even your penis to communicate their interest after giving you “the look.” And you can do the same, as long as you’ve been given sufficient encouragement first. Always watch for the hints — if somebody shakes their head, stop touching and leave them be.

No Strong Fragrances

Showering is non-negotiable, but steer clear from perfumes, colognes, and strong deodorants in the gay sauna. Many men are hypersensitive to them, and the potency will stick around long after you’ve left.

Know the Top or Bottom Signs

In gay bars and other locations, approaching somebody to ask whether they’re a top or bottom is creepy. However, different rules apply in the gay sauna. Luckily, guys will make it easy to figure out — if they’re looking for a top, they’ll grab your penis; if they’re looking for a bottom, they’ll squeeze your butt.

8 Top Tips for Having a Great First Gay Sauna Experience

With the etiquette in mind, follow these tips and tricks to ensure you have the best first gay sauna experience:

#1 Bring a Drawstring Bag

A small drawstring bag makes carrying your valuables, lube, and condoms a breeze. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just big enough to hold the essentials.

#2 Just Don’t Drink It

Don’t take a sip of somebody’s drink. While not an overly common practice, guys can lace drinks with GBH (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), a club drug that’s deadly when mixed with alcohol. A few drops are enough to feel the effects, so it’s impossible to tell whether a drink has been spiked.

#3 Don’t Forget Your Flip Flops

Beach flip flops ensure you keep your feet clean yet aren’t hindered by hard-to-get-off shoes in the heat of the moment. Plus, most gay saunas won’t let you go barefoot, so don’t leave them at home.

#4 Know You Don’t Have to Have Sex

It’s normal to be anxious when it’s your first time visiting a gay sauna. But you can relax — sex is always optional. You can just enjoy the vibe and participate in a touch of voyeurism. There might even be areas for those who don’t want to have sex, letting you ease in gradually.

#5 Take Rejection Well

Everyone needs to accept rejection — you and the guys you say no to. As we stated earlier, if somebody shakes their head or steps away, do not persist. Take the rejection and walk away.

#6 Keep Your Mind Open

Whether it’s a new position, a toy you’ve never tried before, or a guy you wouldn’t call “your type,” you never know what you’ll love until you try it. So, take this open-minded attitude into your gay sauna experience for a truly thrilling time.

#7 Bring a Friend

Clubs and parties are always better with a friend; the gay sauna is no different. Bring somebody you can trust and turn to if you get nervous. It helps if they’re experienced visitors as they’ll show you the ropes (silently, of course).

#8 Go When It’s Busy

You want plenty of people to choose from, so it’s best to go when it’s busy. Gay saunas are typically busy early evenings on Thursdays and Fridays, with weekends pulling crowds from four to seven in the afternoon. Of course, this could be location dependent. Thus, checking the establishment’s Google business listing will give you a good idea of the busiest times. 

You’re All Set for a Seriously Satisfying Gay Sauna Visit!

With our etiquette rules and tips, there’s nothing to fear about your first gay sauna experience. Whether you sit out of the main action or plunge straight into a dark room, you’re bound to have a great time (provided you’re comfortable with public nudity). What are you waiting for? Thursday and Friday evenings at the bathhouse are calling!

Gay Worlley

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