Europe’s gay cruise club and gay sauna scene – FAQ’s
Visiting a gay sauna or cruise club for the first time? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a gay cruise club?
Gay cruise clubs are mostly private, members only adult sex clubs. In many countries these clubs are licensed by local government. We’ve also included some more traditional gay bars that have extensive cruising areas (such as a dark room or maze) but that don’t require membership.
How do you become a member?
Most clubs offer membership on the door. You will need an official photo ID that shows your age. There is a strict age requirement, usually a minimum of 18 or 21 years of age. In Italy, you need to purchase an ANDDOS Card. The card is available at most cruise clubs and saunas; and once obtained, it can be used throughout the country.
What are themed nights?
Themed night cater to those who enjoy a particular fetish and will usually have a strictly enforced dress code. You may be refused entry if you are not wearing the appropriate clothes for the evening (e.g. leather, jeans, army gear, boots, etc.). Check the club’s website for theme details.
On naked nights, you will be expected to remove all your clothes, but not your shoes.
Can I change into my outfit on arrival?
Most clubs offer a coat check and provide a bag into which you place any clothes that are not part of your outfit. You receive a numbered token or wristband. You charge drinks to your number and pay when you leave.
Will I be turned away?
So long as you dress appropriately, cruise clubs “welcome all” regardless of age, race or body type. There are notable exceptions, such as Laboratory in Berlin, who have unexplainable door policies that see some admitted and others turned away for no apparent reason.
Be aware that some clubs don’t admit customers wearing strong-smelling perfume or aftershave.
What facilities will I find at a cruise club?
The quality of cruise clubs vary widely. Most have a bar, dark room, maze, slings, cages and work hard to keep the play areas and toilets clean - others don’t. Bigger clubs may have a dance floor and DJ’s. Cruise clubs don’t usually have private cabins, so you need to be quite open-minded.
Most cruise clubs provide free condoms and lube. It’s a good idea to take a small hand towel.
What is a gay sauna?
Virtually all gay saunas in Europe are licensed health clubs. Membership requirements vary widely. In the UK, for example, membership is not usually required but you may be asked for a valid photo ID that shows your age.
What happens on arrival?
On arrival, you will be given a locker number. The sauna entry fee usually includes locker rental for your clothes and a towel (to wear). You may need to bring your own lock for the locker. Locker theft is a widespread problem, so leave valuables at home or at your hotel. If you don’t fancy walking around in bare feet, it’s a good idea to bring your flip-flops.
What facilities does a gay sauna offer?
A gay sauna (or bathhouse) usually features a dry sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, showers and lounge area. Some also have a swimming pool, café, bar and/or a gym. Most gay saunas have a dark room and private cabins. You may be charged an extra fee to rent a private cabin.
Free condoms and lube are provided at most venues, but not all - so, best go prepared. Massage services are less common in Europe than in Asia.
Locker theft is a widespread problem across Europe in saunas and gyms - gay or straight. If you become a victim of this crime management will offer sympathetic ear, but nothing more. The reality is if you leave your mobile or wallet in a locker you are doing so at your own risk.
Play Safe - a few minutes of fun is not worth a lifetime with HIV
Don’t take risks with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
• Always use a condom
• Make sure the condom fits correctly.
• Use a water- or silicone-based lube, never an oil-based lube.
• Say no if someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do.