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Before behaviours changed, the Kiraly bath in Budapest was one of the three main baths almost exclusively frequented by gay men.

Király fürdő

Visits were split between men and women’s day. Located on a busy street ont he Buda side, this old turkish bath built around the 15th century had all the charm of a rundown place that many people enjoy.

During the week, you could get in fairly quickly, especially if you made it before the after work crowd. Friday was another story as the locals would rush to check out any tourist that would have arrived for the weekend. Then, like a nasty amusement ride, people would wait hours for a a few minutes of pleasure. The more courageous one would go straight to the gate and, in exchange for a little money, get in before all the others lining up.
Once inside, you would change in dedicated cabins, put on the little loin cloth and make your way down to the lower level. Cruisers would loiter in the showers checking each other out. Those that did not want to wait would take their lover to the toilet and consume right there and then. A little pool in front of the shower area allowed for slow perusing as men came and went.

Having gone through a low passage, one would find oneself in the main pool room. A beautiful turkish hamman style. Rough stone and simple decorations. Ont he right, a small pool with almost boiling water which was heaven on a cold winter day, and the right size for 4 to 5 men to squeeze in an do things under water without catching ayone’s attention (not that anyone didn’t know what was going on).

In the big pool, old friends would discuss the days’ event, checking out new arrivals from the corner of their eyes. The shy ones would just sit on the steps, waiting for someone to sit next to them, and eventually, after several painfull minutes, finally make contact by pushing on thigh against the other.

The more bashful ones would not waste precious time and proceeded to grab whom ever was within arm’s reach. Those were the dreaded crocodile, aproaching slowly but with an exact goal in their heads.

Another method was the lying down one. Punters would lay on the steps, ever so slightly moving their hips and patiently waiting for a hand to slip below their bellies, or in case of someone more dedicated, caress and titilate their buttocks.

At the back, another shower area provided some private space which tended to see more actions as the bath emptied.
Over the years, the bath was turned into a co ed space, so that all that homoerotic atmosphere disapeared. It’s a shame, but c’est la vie.

The Kiraly bath is open every day.

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