|From the helpful bloke on the door to the free-to-use hand-held blowdryer, Centurian sauna is a happy marriage of the camp, the comfy and the classy.
This elegant rabbit warren is a triumph of cleverly placed subdued lighting. Not once did I trip down one of their tricky little steps and make a fool of myself! My eyes grew accustomed to the place surprisingly quickly - especially considering all the black walls and black floors! - yet the place never lost it's rather delicious air of naughty subtlety. Give that lighting designer an Oscar (and if he's not available, how about his brother with the golden balls?) And the floor upstairs creaks no longer (or maybe I'm not as big-boned as I was five years ago). From the cheerful, helpful, mature bloke on the door to the free-to-use hand-held blowdryer in the expansive locker room, this place is a happy marriage of the camp, the comfy and the classy. Especially those ceramic whippets constantly on guard by the fireplace heater. Aren't they cute? I didn't appear to get lube or condom with my towel, but there was a very personal safe sex reminder in a photo and message on the locker room wall, and the busy message board had health pamphlets and a large notice with dates for std tests available on the premises. The L-shaped lounge has sofas and chairs that cry out "Sink into me" and there's a telly with excellent reception (it seems to play only movies). But in the smokers' lounge to the far left of the reception area there's another telly with more general programmes. (And yes, the room smelt as though smokers had indeed been using it.) Whereas the main lounge basked in a deliciously cool breeze per courtesy of a big revolving fan hidden away above the false ceiling. The roomy, well-lit, clean and shiny toilets seemed to include a douche system already to go, with instructions on the wall (or at least two of them did). And for the pale people there's a sunbed (looks awfully claustrophobic to me). I guess you pay extra for that. And talking dollars, at $22 it's the dearest place in town, but I suspect its clientele rate it as the best steamie in town. And I'm pretty sure there's an early bird discount for the first hour or so. At the end of the maze (which is a mini-maze but satisfyingly confusing) there's a large-ish porno telly room with a truly giant screen. You feel as though you're watching 'The Attack of the Sixty-foot Woman's Gay Brothers." See the Giant Penis! See the Gargantuan Buttocks! The watchers' couches sprawl rather uncomfortably over two levels and if you're not an exhibitionist this room could make you feel a bit self-conscious. There's a sort of upper gallery area, too. So watch out, you're being watched... If you really get into being watched you'll love this room. There are some private rooms downstairs, one with a sling, but you'll find most of the cubicles upstairs - except they're bigger than cubicles and their odd shapes and sizes tend to reflect the building this place used to be. The dry sauna is the usual wooden sort but the steam room is a peach, a lovely mixture of light and steam, though the free-standing glass partition in the middle of the room is a bit confusing on first sight. The benchs are safe and sound and - wonder of wonders! - the steam room has its own shower! And no, I don't mean there's an obliging bloke in there who will wee on you when requested. No, it's a real shower and the aficionados use it, too. The showers are clean, well lit and in very good nick, with solid fittings, though the push button mechanism is a bit strange - to stop any long-term naughty showering together maybe?
There's a tiny exercise machine room (I couldn't make the Jane Fonda walking thingie work, but then I wasn't really trying to, there's only one exercise I'm interested in, titter titter) and there's a smaller porn telly room upstairs (See the Ordinary-sized Penis! See the Ordinary-sized Buttocks!) There's a snacks and drinks counter at the other end of the reception area (around a wall or two) by the door to the smokers' lounge. I thought the place was busy enough for a Friday afternoon (the Big Day Out was on), and sources tell me it's hugely busy Sunday arvos. Yes, it lacks the Wingate Club's outdoor pool and Lateshift's raunchiness, but you can't have everything now can you?
Parking immediately outside is horrid - 60 minutes only and for $4! but there are carpark buildings nearby. Centurian Sauna 18 Beresford Square, Auckland Ph 09 377 5571 John Curry - 25th January 2006