Given that Toronto has the largest gay scene of any city in the nation, and that bathhouse culture enjoys nearly the same mainstream acceptance and popularity in Canada as it does in western Europe, it's hardly surprising that Toronto has a rather robust selection of gay spas and sex clubs. It's fairly easy to find venues for meeting other dudes on the make, with the majority of the city's gay cruising hangouts in the iconic Church Street Gay Village area, as you might expect.
Open 24/7 and part of the renowned bathhouse brand with additional locations in Berkeley (just outside San Francisco), Seattle, Vancouver, and Chicago, the centrally located Steamworks Toronto (540 Church St., 416-925-1571) is a must among fans of gay saunas - it can get downright packed, and quite steamy, in here on weekends, especially after the bars and clubs along Church Street close. With extensive, well-kept facilities (a gym, all sorts of interesting private room options, douche stations, glory holes and other public areas, a eucalyptus steam room, live DJs on weekends), Steamworks is an undisputed favorite.
In the vicinity, however, you'll find several other places to get your rocks off. Spa Excess (105 Carlton St., 416-260-2363) is the biggest of Toronto's gay bathhouses, and it definitely provides stiff competition with Steamworks. Also open 'round the clock, this rambling, dark, and sexy club has attractively tiled showers and wet areas, clean facilities, and a diverse mix of guys of all ages, ethnicities, and styles.
Some say the vibe here is a bit less stand-and-model than at Steamworks, but results really vary at these clubs from night to night. A plus for many is that Spa Excess has a fully licensed bar.
It's tricky to find (with no sign on the door) and it has no website, but The Cellar (78 Wellesley St.
E) is pretty popular with the very guys who prefer a less conspicuous, more anonymous experience. This dark space is right in the heart of the neighborhood, around the corner from Steamworks just east of Church Street. Guys into kink and fetishes especially seem to favor this one. Facilities are minimal (there are showers).
Another option, in the Little Portugal neighborhood, just west of the busy intersection of Dufferin and Dundas streets, Central Spa (1610 Dundas St. W, 2nd floor, 416-588-6191) is part of an Ontario gay-bathhouse chain with other locations in Hamilton, London, and Ottawa. This is a good option if you're hanging out on the west side of downtown, around Queen Street West and thereabouts. This second-floor facility with a dry sauna and steam room, slurp ramp, and blue-movie room has lockers as well as deluxe and standard rooms, but it's not a late-night option - it's open daily, but just from 11 am until 9 pm most nights (until 1 AM on weekends).
Central Spa has a fun way of describing its approach:
"Whether you are gay, bisexual, straight, questioning, or just plain horny...it doesn't matter to us or the rest of our clientele!"
Central Spa is a bit mellower and less of a scene than the Church Street Village clubs and is known generally to draw a somewhat older crowd, but the less-predictable mix and lack of attitude is one reason some regulars appreciate it.