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Karel’s Steam Baths is on the market

Landmark Hamilton bathhouse is up for grabs

Karel’s Steam Baths is Hamilton’s longest-running bathhouse.

Credit: Nicholas Banks

For sale: three-storey house in Hamilton; 24,000 square feet, steam room, video lounge, 14 private rooms, 40 lockers. Second-floor dark area with glory holes. Second floor also includes an apartment separate from, but tantalizingly close to, the glory holes. Owner says is perfect for gay couple wanting to own a bathhouse and live on premises. Don’t miss your opportunity to own this gem of a location!

Located at 12 Holston Ave N, Karel’s Steam Baths is listed with Nicholas Banks of iPro Realty Ltd. The asking price is $475,000.

Karel Bozdech, a registered massage therapist and the owner of Karel’s Steam Baths, purchased the establishment in 1986. “I was [working] at the YMCA,” he says. “I wanted to get work for myself. Steam baths and massages go together nice, you know, so when I saw that the steam bath was for sale, I decided to buy it.”

The business was a steam bath when he bought it, but he wanted to give it a different, men-only flavour. “I turned it gay,” he says. “I had to have private rooms to do that, which meant I had to extend the house, so I added eight feet on the front and 15 on the back.”

At 28 years old, Karel’s Steam Baths is one of the oldest gay businesses in the area, and Bozdech says that he’s never had trouble with the police or with neighbours.

Karel’s Steam Baths has modest, but consistent, success. It has 2,800 members and three regular parties each month. The last Friday of each month is a bear party, the last Thursday is a party for crossdressers, and the second Tuesday — the bathhouse’s most popular event — is the Dick Hunt Party, which includes a free meal in the afternoon.

Bozdech says the bathhouse, one of the few such establishments in Hamilton, would be perfect for a gay couple. “They can live in the apartment and run the bathhouse,” he says. “[The apartment] has a spacious living room, two bedrooms and a Jacuzzi.”

“Or somebody might want to buy it and get somebody else to run it and live on the premises. It has a lot of options, you know?” he says. “I might retire if I sell it, but I don’t think about that. I like to take it one step at a time. If I don’t sell, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. There’s no pressure.”