North London's Cultural Guide

Inside Rio’s Naturist Club: ex general manager speaks out

Readers are endlessly fascinated by what goes on at Kentish Town Road's notorious health spa. Here's a first person account from someone who knows all too well

Basking in the buff. On Kentish Town Road! Photo:
Basking in the buff. On Kentish Town Road no less! Photo:

I was born in Liverpool. After leaving the navy, I owned a fruit and flower shop on Anglers Lane, before becoming the general manager of Rio’s for just over 13 years.

This proved to be a massive eye-opener for me. The spa began back in September 1989 after owner Trevor went on holiday to Europe and saw how big naturism was. Nowadays Rio’s is probably the most talked about venue in Kentish Town, if not London, and holds a unique reputation.

Many articles published, including author Suzanne Portnoy’s memoirs, make Rio’s look like a seedy venue which I believe is far from the truth, and infuriate the vast majority of my customers. Where else can you go and experience naturism, three steam rooms, two saunas, swimming and plunge pools, secluded summer garden, Thai or Swedish massage, free teas and coffees (served by beautiful hostesses), as many towels as you need, sleeping areas and relaxation rest rooms? This is all on residents’ doorstep.

Relaxing in the sauna. Photo:
Almost Alpine: relaxing in the sauna. Photo:

And that’s why it works. Kentish Town is like a village which the people have created. It was my home for 21 years; and, having to leave for a family issue back in Liverpool, I sincerely miss the family community and my friends.


But there were so many memorable moments during my time in NW5, it’s hard to know where to start. For example, I married a member of staff (and later divorced her). And I was always telling my close mate Michael from Flaxon Ptootch next door to stop jumping over the garden fence and sneaking in.

What else? I remember asking a ladyboy to leave the ladies’ changing room and to change in the men’s. I was interviewed by porn icon Jo Guest for Naked London, Men and Motors. Then there was the evening spent chatting to a Hollywood star whilst he was in the garden. He can’t, of course, be named.

Note the sign behind the masseuse: ‘Please do not ask for sexual favors (sic) as this will terminate your massage.’ Photo:

Funniest of all? I asked a customer to cover himself up as I thought he had three legs. But that’s another (long) story…

Appetite whetted? Read Suzanne Portnoy’s memories about Rio’s. You may also have missed the revealing account by a former waitress here. For more info on Rio’s including admission charges head to their colourful website.

Are you a regular? What are your experiences?

5 thoughts on “Inside Rio’s Naturist Club: ex general manager speaks out”

  1. I’m not disputing that Rio’s has a friendly atmosphere. I think the phrase I used in my book was something along the lines of ‘a community centre where everybody is naked.’ However, I think the ex-manager must have been very good at turning a blind eye if he wasn’t aware of the shenanigans going on in the ‘resting rooms’ and, quite often, the steam room too. I haven’t been back for a few years now but, from what I’ve heard from friends who still pop in from time to time, sex is certainly on offer if you want it. And as the male/female ratio is about 80/20, it’s hardly surprising.

  2. terence crouch

    Hi colin its terry telboy florida.just to let you know you was a awesome manager and u had a great team round I had some great times at rios.hope your keeping well buddy.

  3. I find rios so relax sing,i go on a friday nite,everywhere is so clean & nice,i always go alone so i can get pice off mine after a long week at work,But a lot off men in there should just relax like me,,,& stop tailing women in there as its not a good look,,,you no who you are 6pack man with tats & the fat kebab man,,,kool down guys,,dont make the place seedy,its such a nice place lets keep it like that……

Leave a Comment

About Kentishtowner

The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.