Gay bathhouses, also known as gay saunas or steam baths, are commercial bathhouses for men to have sex with other men. In gay slang in some regions these venues are also known colloquially as "the baths", "the Sauna" or "the tubs," and should not be confused with public bathing.
Not all men who visit gay bathhouses consider themselves gay, regardless of their sexual behavior. Bathhouses for women are rare, though some men's bathhouses 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 swimming pools. Most have a steam room (or wet sauna), dry sauna, showers, lockers, and small private rooms.
Many bathhouses are membership only. Unlike brothels, customers pay only for the use of the facilities. Sexual activity, if it occurs, is not provided 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.