2 min

Ottawa to get chic new bathhouse

Rub-a-dub-dub, there's more choice at the tub

A new bathhouse is opening downtown on Oct 5, above the Edge gay bar.

“It’s newer, fresher,” says Edge owner Donevan Olexy. “It’s time Ottawa had something new for the gay community.”

The Edge bathhouse at Sparks St will be just 12 blocks along Bank St from the Steamworks bathhouse at Lewis St. Steamworks attracted a largely young clientele in its early years, though it has aged more recently.

Staying true to Club Edge’s signature style of red and black, the new hotspot strives to be sleek, clean and inviting. Olexy says it will be licensed for alcohol, have an outdoor hot tub that will be operational year-round, and slate floors throughout. The entrance area will also feature a wall of flowing water. The showers have a huge window installed so you can check out the action while washing off.

“You can leave the night club and not have to physically leave the building,” says Olexy. “You can pick up somebody in the bar, walk down the hallway, get on the elevator and go up to the bathhouse.”

The first phase will feature 19 rooms. That number will climb to 30 if phase two opens as scheduled in 2008.

“I think we’ll probably end up getting a younger crowd although I’m not gearing it towards them,” says Olexy. He believes that there’s local demand for a bathhouse with a very clean image.

Olexy is also owner of Club Edge. Before that, he owned Club AWOL until it closed. He also owned the Paradox bar (along with co-owner Andrew Wall), a heterosexual club on the upper level of the site of the new bathhouse.

Steamworks managers declined to be interviewed for this report. But postings to by Steamworks customers note that extensive repairs and a general clean-up has taken place in recent weeks, including a fixed sauna door, new light fixtures over the shower, installation of a central air grill and “cleaner” floors.

Club Ottawa bathhouse on Wellington St in Hintonburg enjoys a more masculine and multicultural clientele.

Many Ottawa gays are regular visitors to tubs in Montreal and Toronto. Some of those bathhouses are sexually more varied than local tubs, while others offer a relatively luxurious experience.

Will a rejuvenation of the local tub scene help keep Ottawa gays in town for weekends? Could an overhaul of the bar scene also be in the works? Ottawa gays have long complained that local bars owners should invest more money in regularly updating the décor of their premises and making them more exciting places. Bar owners have noted that local bars are not the money machines that some customers imagine.