Travel Tips: Spa Etiquette

Get the most out of your spa experience by keeping these etiquette tips in mind.

Image courtesy Shutterstock.

Image courtesy Shutterstock.

Planning a spa visit during a trip is luxurious experience that should be worth every penny you spend. Before you get into that fluffy robe and tune out, make sure you’re well-versed in the language of lounging — it will ensure you receive the best spa experience possible. Here are our top spa etiquette tips to keep in mind.

Arrive Early

With relaxation being the main goal, rushing in at the last minute will result in the opposite effect. We suggest arriving at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment, especially if you haven’t been to that particular spa before, as you’ll be asked to fill out at least one health form, depending on what treatment you have scheduled. The reason for this is so your therapist is aware of any possible injuries, medical conditions and understands your general health, which helps her tailor the treatment exactly to your needs.

Plus if you’re heading to a spa resort or day spa, arriving 30-45 minutes prior to your appointment allows time to use the spa’s facilities. The steam room or hot tub is the perfect way to to help loosen your muscles in preparation for a massage, and there’s always time to read a book or have a cup of tea in the relaxation lounge.

Turn Your Cell Off

There’s nothing worse than hearing someone’s phone ring or a text beep come through when you’re trying to get zen. Before you even step into the spa, it’s best to put your phone on silent that way you’ll be sure not to disturb other guests. And don’t dare start using yours (we’re talking texting too!), even if it’s in the change room. Wait until you get out to the lobby.

To Undress or Not to Undress

Wrapping yourself in the plush robe they’ve left for you and wearing nothing underneath is perfectly acceptable. Ideally when having a massage, it’s best to be naked under the sheets, especially since the table is often heated and covered in layers of blankets to keep you cozy, however it’s not a must. What you wear or don’t wear is completely up to you!

Requesting a Therapist

When booking over the phone you might be asked whether you’d prefer a male or female therapist. This decision is completely up to you, however if you’re requesting more than one therapist at a time (say during a couples massage) during peak hours, it might be harder to book your preference, so keep that in mind.

Speak Up

It’s completely appropriate to tell your technician if you like or don’t like something they’re doing during the treatment. Whether that’s  the amount of pressure they’re using or the temperature in the room. Often they will ask you about the pressure, but if there is something else you are concerned with, certainly speak up. The same goes with something you like, if you’d prefer to have her focus on massaging say, your shoulders, tell her.

Silence is Golden

It’s normal for there to be some level of conversation during a treatment. After the introductions, the therapist should tell you what will happen during the treatment and what they would like you to do — such as asking you to flip over during a massage or asking you about your skincare routine during a facial. Outside of the treatment discussion, how much chatter is up to you and the therapist should follow your lead. If you end up with a chatty therapist, there’s nothing wrong with saying something like, “I’m going to rest now.”

Product Pitches

After a facial or body treatment, you will more often than not be recommended products used by your esthetician. By no means are you required to purchase anything. If you’re not 100% sure, ask her to write the products down for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample of a product either, often it’s a good way to try it at home without committing right away.


Just like any service, a tip is not mandatory. It shows you enjoyed the service you were provided. Typically anywhere from 10-20% of the price of the service is the general rule of thumb. Some spas include a gratuity already in the final price, so be sure to check before and if you don’t like the amount they’ve added — tell them the new price you’d like to pay.

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