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Flex Spa, Cleveland, Ohio

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Flex Spa, Cleveland, Ohio
photo by Andrew Collins
Set inside a beautifully restored art deco building from the late '30s that used to be a Greyhound bus office building and garage, Flex Cleveland (2600 Hamilton Ave., 216-812-3304) is a virtual monument to gay bathhouse culture. The owners claim it's the world's largest such facility, and at more than 50,000 square feet, it's easy to believe this. Moreover, it's a clean, well-run, all-male 24-hour spa and cruise ground with a helpful and well-trained staff - you'd be hard-pressed (so to speak) to find a better bathhouse, even in a much bigger city. And the fact is, devotees of bathhouses flock here from all over the Midwest.

In addition to being a hangout day or night for cruising and meeting other guys, working out, swimming (there are both indoor and outdoor pools), having cocktails with friends (there's a full bar open from 1 pm until 2:30), enjoying a bite to eat (food is served in the bar and cafe), Flex has a number of attractively furnished hotel rooms - they're pretty much on the level, in terms of decor and amenities, of a mid-range chain hotel, but with a bit more character. And, of course, you're in close proximity to plenty of friendly guys, if that's what you're up for. If not, it's still a perfectly solid option as an overnight accommodation, and it's by no means expected that you're here to hook up just because you book a room here. Overnight accommodations cost from $80 to $240 per night, and rooms range from standard single rooms to a quite large presidential suite.

Flex is members only, so you day visitors pay a small daily fee (more affordable six-month and annual memberships are also available and make sense if you're here for more than a few days) to join, and then rates for lockers, cabins, and such range from about $15 to $30 - all quite reasonable for such a modern and pleasant facility.

Flex Cleveland is part of a family of men's bathhouses around the country - there's another Flex a couple of hours away in Columbus, and other branches in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, and Phoenix.

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