Personally, I imagined them as places for exhibitionists, people with extreme sexual preferences and the odd perv, standing in the corner and w***ing himself off to the whole thing.
Last night, I visited Le Boudoir, a members club that hosts sex parties every week, held at a secret London location.
In an effort to blend in, I’d dressed provocatively in the little black lingerie dress that I reserve for special occasions. I’d also brought along a female friend, who we’ll call Cassandra, although that’s not her real name.
Le Boudoir is a bring-your-own venue, and I suddenly regretted that we’d only armed ourselves with one bottle of wine.
I needn’t have worried though, as Master Boudoir, the club’s impeccably dressed host, had already prepared a special treat for us – personalised vodka bottles.
As we enter the main floor, the club’s social room, the atmosphere is mixed; some couples are sat huddled together on sofas, while others are eyeing each other up, and one lady is having a spin on the stripper pole.
I tried the pole myself later that evening and was far less impressive, which the developing bruise on my bum is proof of.
‘We get lots of newbies, and I think what’s exciting for them is that there are so many possibilities here,’ he says. ‘People who come here definitely seem to have a great sense of humour, and they’re engaging and great characters.’
It’s dark and inviting, and smells faintly of popcorn, a trick the club has implemented to conceal the natural smell of sex that’ll soon fill the air.
As we descend the stairs, I spot a large bed with a TV above it, set to porn, and a large vibrator, free for all to use. An hour later I saw a woman give her partner a blowjob as she enjoyed the vibrator herself, so it definitely gets used.
The building used to be a bank, and owners of Le Boudoir have kept many of the original fittings, including the vault which, coincidentally, is home to the dungeon.
‘The dungeon affords lots of excitement,’ Master Boudoir explains, including a padded wall, a St. George’s cross and a spanking bench with restraints. Sometimes, couples will say to me ‘Master Boudoir we’ve seen you do your thing, would you mind showing us your techniques’.
‘I’ve got my bag of tricks and I’m constantly adding to my implements, and it’s always to increase the woman’s pleasure. Each woman has different triggers and yearnings, so I’m very careful about asking what she’d like and I check whether she’s OK at each point.’
Master Boudoir is teaching me and Cassandra how to spank a blonde lady who is restrained on ohlala chat a bench, while she gives her partner a blowjob.
Feeling somewhat awkward and out of place, I promptly apologise when I spank her, to which I’m met with kind laughter by both the woman and her partner.
Meanwhile in the two prison cells, one of which has a sex swing, two couples are having sex as the whole room watches.
It’s all very voyueristic, and I can sense which couples have been here before. It’s not a naked fest though – most of the crowd have their underwear on, while others are fully dressed still.
I leave Cassandra and the Master to do their thing, and venture outside to the smoking area, where I chat to a few of the guests.
It’s a mixed bag, but it’s a much younger crowd than I’d anticipated and most of them are fairly attractive.
Especially this one gentleman from Scotland, who has come along with his female friend – I catch both of them in a swingers situation later that evening.
Another couple tell me they came along the night before, and found a lady to play with. She had come on her own, and apparently she also ‘came three times’.
Overall, the crowd is friendly – the seedy element that I’d expected isn’t present – but that’s not to say there’s not a lot of kinky sex, most of which takes place on the top floor.
Yes, there’s definite f**king, but no one is in a rush, they’re taking their time and they’re enjoying having an audience.
I sit down and take in the view: there are several couples having sex in front of me, while to my left there’s a woman orgasming as her lover plays with her.
I’m surprised by how quiet the room is; the music is playing in the background and women are moaning softly, but no one is screaming load enough for the neighbours to complain.
Whether this is the official way of doing things, I couldn’t tell you, but I had three men extend their hand to me that evening as a gesture that I was welcome to join him and his partner.
It’s actually incredibly polite, and I was both flattered and felt safe – if it’s a no, you simply shake your head, or smile and walk off.
The only negative part of the experience was that despite the mischievous mood, as a single woman in a sea of sex offers, I still felt as an outsider, watching couples make love.
On Saturdays, it’s couples and single ladies, but on Thursday’s a small amount of single men are welcome too. These are hand-picked by the club.
In fact, the manager reveals that the club has 20,000 members and another 5,000 on the waiting list, and some of the less desirable men will never get a membership.
Around 2am, I find myself on a sofa with Cassandra on the top floor, discussing the evening’s events with the club’s manager. On the sofa next to us, two ladies have switched partners and are giving the men blowjobs.
We decide that as far as casual sex goes, Le Boudoir is far superior to flicking through Tinder for a night of ‘Netflix and Chill’.
Oddly, the former is far more respectful, even if you should find yourself in bed with multiple people in one night. You’re highly encouraged to find out for yourself, although I’d recommend bringing a plus one if it’s your first time.
And yes, I know what you’re thinking: did I accept one of the extended hands or find myself in the throes of passion with Scotland?