|Gay bathhouses, also known as gay saunas or steam baths (and sometimes called, in gay slang in some regions, “the baths” or “the tubs”), are places where men can go to have sex with other men. Not all men who visit such bathhouses consider themselves gay regardless of their sexual behavior. Bathhouses for women are much rarer, though some men’s bathhouses will occasionally have “lesbian” or “women only” nights.
Bathhouses vary considerably in size and amenities—from small establishments with 10 or 20 rooms and a handful of lockers to multi-storey saunas with a variety of room styles or sizes and several steam baths, jacuzzi tubs, and sometimes even swimming pools—but nearly all have at least one steam room (or wet sauna), as well as showers, lockers, and small private rooms. Unlike at brothels, many bathhouses are membership only and customers pay only for the use of the facilities; sexual activity, if it occurs, is not provided as a service by staff of the establishment, but is between customers, and no money is exchanged. Many gay bathhouses explicitly prohibit or discourage prostitution and ban known prostitutes.