Unit 2 Sauna: Bottom Barrel Bathhouse
Gay Saunas used to play a big role in gay culture. They actually still do, even though many people think its a relic of yesteryear. For those who don't know, saunas (or bathhouses) are places that gay men went to for discrete gay sex, in a time when it was tabboo. With hookup apps like Grindr and Recon, many people have moved away from the bathhouse / cruising scene.
However, the bathhouse scene is still alive in the UK, although only a few locations are still open around the country. Growing up as a closeted gay boy in a less-than-queer-friendly part of London, I would fantasise about sneaking off and going to a bathhouse so I could be as whorey and gay as I wanted. Many years later, I still seek out saunas to live that dream.
A big problem with the Midlands is that there isn't too much of a gay scene - let alone a cruising scene. When I want to be my whorey self I normally go to Manchester, my home away from home, which has plenty in the way of sex clubs, kink events, and saunas.
I heard of plenty of rumors of Unit 2 in my time living in the Midlands, and it never sounded too promising, so I stayed away to better recommended saunas like Basement in Manchester. With Unit 2 closing 30th of November to be converted into flats, I thought I'd give it a visit before it's gone for good. Boy howdy was everything I heard about it true.
The veune is tucked away in the Birmingham gay village, which is shrinking at an alarming rate with gay venues being closed to create gentrified accommodation. Unit 2 has a fee of £12 to enter. Unlike other saunas I've been to, you are given sandals at the door along with a towel to wear inside. I thought that was a very nice touch, since most saunas only offer a towel.
There is a small non-sexual communal area where you can get hot and cold drinks and watch basic TV, which is nice when you need a break from the heat and steam. However. once you get into the actual sauna part of the sauna is when it starts to go downhill.
My favorite part of the sauna is the hot tub area, Unit 2 had one hot tub, and it was rather small and not very hot, more like a mildly-heated tub. The "dark room" was quite small with only one gloryhole that I could find. The private rooms were quite unclean and nasty. Inside was also a suspended sex swing, which honestly looked unbelievably unsafe, and it was suprisingly well lit - not what you really want in a DARK room!
By contrast, the steam rooms were completely pitch black, which made seeing if anyone was inside a nightmare. These seemed a little unsafe too, and like the hottub, not very hot. All the surfaces were covered in cold wet that just soaked into your towel. The sauna was a little unclean, the basic facitities where small and borderline unusable. I only stayed an hour before I had to call it quits.
Overall, Unit 2 was my worst sauna experience, hands down.
- Value for money