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London’s biggest gay sauna set to be demolished

By Troy Nankervis

London’s largest gay sauna Chariots is to be demolished to make way for a luxury 200-bed hotel.

Last June it was reported the Shoreditch site had been acquired by US developer Highgate Holdings, who submitted plans to Hackney City Council construct a 300,000 square feet mixed-use building, which would include a 200-bedroom luxury hotel as well as 100,000 square feet of offices, community retail and leisure space.

The plans were reportedly approved in December, with construction now scheduled to commence within a few months, and to be completed by the end of 2018, according to Gay Star News.


Duncan Swinhoe from Gensler, the architecture firm designing the Shoreditch Highgate Hotel, welcomed the council’s approval.

“We are honoured to be working with Highgate on what is set to become a valuable asset for local professionals and residents of East London,” he said in a statement.

“The secured planning permission is a testament to the close working relationship between Gensler and the London Borough of Hackney.”


Chair of LGBT Humanists Richard Unwin told the London Evening Standard he had been using the sauna every week for four years, and its loss would be felt alongside other recent closures including The Black Cap in Camden and Manbar in Soho.

“At the moment we don’t have very many details. We don’t know if the sauna was given up willingly or not,” he said.

“The news that it is being demolished to make way for a luxury hotel is devastating, and just the latest in a long line of LGBT venues being closed down and replaced with bland heteronormativity.”

Chariots has three remaining venues in London in Streatham, Waterloo and Vauxhall.

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