WHILE many people would expect to find an 'Amsterdam' experience in Northwich's male-only sauna's playrooms and dungeon, they might be surprised to learn the venue provides a lifeline to some of its guests.

According to the website, Northwich Sauna in Winnington is ‘the UK’s largest leisure facility for gay, bi-sexual, and curious men’, offering all the usual spa facilities such as a steam complex, sauna, jacuzzi, massage, barbering, relaxation areas, and a coffee lounge.

It also offer weekly themed events such as ‘Naked Tuesdays’, as well as sessions catering for specific tastes such as cross-dressers and their admirers, bi-sexual couples and people who enjoy ‘group’ activities.

The current owners have been running the business for almost a year, having paid around £1.3 million for it last April.

General manager, Max Hunter, says while many men do use the Winnington Lane venue for sex, that is by no means the whole picture of what the sauna is about.

Northwich Guardian: Northwich Sauna is the largest spa of its kind in the UKNorthwich Sauna is the largest spa of its kind in the UK (Image: Rightmove/Sydney Phillips Ltd)

The 36-year-old said: "On the surface, when people hear ‘gay sauna’, they think all sorts of things. People can even worry about living close to one, but it’s really not that kind of place.  

"We’re about creating a safe environment where like-minded people, with all sorts of tastes, can come and socialise without having to worry, or hide behind their own front door.

"This is a place people really want to come to. We have a chap who comes here and he's well into his 70s, and he has to catch two trains and a bus just to get here.

"He’s got no family, and though he realised he was gay at a young age, back then it was a massive taboo. He comes here for his dinner then spends all afternoon with us.

"He has a massage, uses the jacuzzi, and goes into the steam room.

"He reckons this place has saved him. He's an older gay guy, and he could be very lonely, but we provide a place that he really look forward to coming to."

Northwich Guardian: Facilities include sauna, jacuzzi, steam complex, relaxation areas, and a coffee barFacilities include sauna, jacuzzi, steam complex, relaxation areas, and a coffee bar (Image: Rightmove/Sydney Phillips Ltd)

Max says it would be wrong to assume all his customers come just for sex, but for those that do, it’s about creating a safe, positive environment.

He added while similar businesses, such as those in city centres, stay open all night and cater for men who may have been on a night out drinking, because of where Northwich Sauna is located, they attract a different kind of clientele.

Northwich Guardian: The business sold for £1.3 million in 2022The business sold for £1.3 million in 2022 (Image: Rightmove/Sydney Phillips Ltd)

“If you’re the chap who isn’t openly gay, you could be meeting strangers on apps, the internet, or other secluded spots," said Max.

"That can be dangerous, because you don't know who you're meeting.

"Here, we provide a safe space where guys can meet and go to the cabins, but we also have the Sex Positive people that come twice a week.

"They give informed advice, do testing, and supply protection. We’re very proactive on safe sex and men meeting safely.

"If you look at the bigger picture, all we’re doing is providing a service people want, and we’re doing it safely."