Shirtless man relaxing in sauna

A Reddit user asked the r/AskGayMen community earlier this month for a primer on gay bathhouses and saunas, saying that he’s considering going to his first one in Amsterdam. “Anything to share on what I could expect and how I should prepare?” he wrote in his post.

Luckily for him, Redditors who have steamed up saunas had suggestions for what to do, who to do, and what to bring.

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“Towels, slippers/flip flops, a key for your locker,” one user responded. “Wear your flip flops at all times! Or bring your own. That’s probably safer. Be firm and direct in saying no to anyone you don’t want to play with. There are condoms and lube sachets available in most rooms. If you’re not already on PrEP, I’d recommend playing only with condoms, you don’t know who’s using PrEP and who isn’t. [Editor’s note: The CDC recommends condom use for every sexual encounter.] You can say no to anyone, and you can just sit in the sauna/steam room/jacuzzi to chill for the whole event. You don’t even have to do anything sexual, can literally just exist and unwind. The best blowjobs will come from the men in the glory holes. The best kisses come from those who you sneak off to a room with.”

Related: This gay bathhouse wants “NoMoreC” in Amsterdam

Another commenter wrote: “Perhaps this is obvious, but prepare your body as you would for any hookup. Shower, douche (if applicable), brush your teeth, use mouthwash, etc. I like to walk around the facility after getting undressed so I can see all the offerings. Throughout the night you should keep walking around as guys will occupy different spaces in groups depending on the action. Most bathhouses in Europe have a bar inside so you can get a drink and relax in a non sexual environment.”

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A third user advised the OP to tell the bathhouse staff that it’s his first time. “If it is a good place, they will give you the rundown and maybe tour,” that user wrote. “You might go in one day and just ask what time people come in. In the states, it is often older men in the mornings, [and at] lunch time it can be a mixed crowd. Most younger guys come in the evenings or late at night after the bars start shutting down. Walk around, see what is going on and what may interest you.”

Related: I’m afraid of going into a bathhouse… but it’s all I can think about

Another commenter reporting doing just that, disclosing his status as a bathhouse virgin during his first time. “The attendant spread it around. Turns out, for a little while, I was the prize,” that commenter said. “Went in the afternoon. Mostly guys my age. Yes, I am hooked.”

Others, meanwhile, were more succinct with their advice. “Like any new place, go, hang out, enjoy a nice hot bath/shower/hot tub/sauna, look around,” one person recommended. “If something pops up, you’ll know what to do.”

And another person wrote, “Get tested before and after. Stay safe.”

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