THE EMPEROR'S BATHHOUSE (5 Wigan Street) I recently went on a visit to Wellington and this venue has only been open for a short while, so I couldn't miss out on dropping in. And what a spacious and opulent venue it is. Grand enough for a Roman-inspired orgy - hence the name - but looking more like a baroque set from Les Liaisons dangereuses, especially in the social area where they serve drinks and snacks and which looks like a ballroom.
The facilities are second to none: a jumbo sized spa pool with all bells
and whistles, a spacious sauna box with easy window spying, but a steam
room that is a tad too dark for my liking, even when the temperature
was scorching. The showers are big and clean and temperature
controllable. There is also a massage cubicle where you can have your
muscles unknotted by a professional, and a very dark maze with
glory holes. And that's all on the ground floor.
The cruising areas are upstairs, with a well lit maze (even carpeted in
parts) leading to various play rooms. I must say I have never
encountered such spacious play rooms - some even come with their own air
con system. There are two video rooms, one a large sprawling affair
where lying down is encouraged, the other a sling room with separate
Recommended when you need to shelter from the Wellington weather!
CHECKMATE (15 Tory Street): situated off the main entertainment area of Courtenay Place and so in easy reach of everywhere. I remember visiting the venue with that named before but it must have moved from elsewhere in town.
It's a fairly standard sauna complex showing its age a bit and it is certainly in need of some makeover attention, especially the wet areas. The decor is spartan and functional, if somewhat threadbare. Carpets are never a good idea in public areas.
The steam room is sufficiently scorching but tiny as it can seat about 15 people tightly packed. The sauna box next door is slightly spacier and has a window view of the spa pool in front, which itself sits next to the shower area. Taken altogether it does not make for a very attractive layout and the harsh lighting doesn't help either. The showers allow for temperature control and are communal.
The maze is compact with two rows of small cubicles, each having a reasonably sized mattress but apart from that not much space around it. You may bang your head on the walls if your sexual workout gets out of hand. Three could fit in but that doesn't leave a lot of room for more than the standard manoeuvres.
The corridors in the maze are so narrow you can barely squeeze past each other. There is also a dark corner, a sling room, a mattress area for when you are entertaining a group and a separate room with cubicles linked by glory holes. The management has kindly provided wall signs as to what each area is for, in case you were lost for inspiration.
There are two video rooms but both play the same feed. The larger of the two has tiered and uncomfortable seating (you do more benching than sitting) but allows for play when enjoying the movies.
In all, pretty average and given the choice I would go for the Emperor's Bathhouse instead.