Gay sauna Chariots Spa closes for good in 'huge loss for the London community'

"Chariots will not reopen and is currently in the process of liquidation"


Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Facebook

Gay sauna Chariots Spa will not reopen and is "in the process of liquidation", it was announced today.

The London-based chain - which at one point operated six sites - shared the news on its official Facebook page this morning.

The first, located in Shoreditch, opened in 1996 and closed in 2016. Chariots Vauxhall, which opened in 2005, was the only venue still operating when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and closed last March.

"Sad duty"

In a post, a Chariots rep said: "Dear customers, it is my sad duty to inform you Chariots Sauna will not reopen and is currently in the process of liquidation.

"I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our customers and to the gay community as a whole for supporting us and making the company a success for many years.

"We wish you all well for the future."

Responding to the news, one follower commented: "I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s such a shame and I wondered how you guys were coping with being closed for so long. Sad day."

Another added: "Noooooo! This was the best Sauna in London."

"Totally the fault of Boris and his government for not supporting businesses they forced to close," said a third. "It’s infuriating."

"A huge loss for the London community"

A former staffer furthermore added on Twitter: "Saunas such as Chariots had provided a safe space for gay men pre-covid for countless years. Whatever your feelings are towards saunas, I think we can all safely say that it's gonna be a huge loss for the London community.

"All queer owned businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, especially those who cannot operate under certain guidelines. Unfortunately Chariots was under those restrictions, and has not opened since March 18th. The financial strain has been extremely heavy on all of my co-workers, not knowing when we'll be able to get back into work (though we were under the furlough scheme)."

When it was open, the three-floor Chariots in Shoreditch was the biggest in the UK. Other venues included Streatham, Farringdon, Limehouse and Waterloo.

In October, it emerged that London LGBTQ bars Admiral Duncan, Retro Bar and The Kings Arms were to remain closed as owners "rebased" their business following the pandemic.

Attitude has contacted Chariots Spa for further comment.