Woman wearing spa robe standing in tiled underground spa area
Spas around the world

Spa Etiquette: What To Do at a Spa

Spa etiquette was not really something I knew much about when I first started going to spas a few years back. My only real knowledge of spas was that I might be given a robe and some slippers to wear. But other than that I just had to bank on using my common sense when going on my first spa break. 

The first time I went to a spa I was suddenly filled with all these questions about how to behave in a space, how to do things, and what best practice might be in order to use the spa in a respectful way and to get the best out of the spa experience.

Now we have been on many spa days and spa breaks. Through our enthusiastic spa experiences and asking lots of questions we have been able to come up with a super useful list of spa etiquette tips that we want to share with you today.

This list of spa etiquette tips includes usful ideas about what to think about when going to the spa, how to behave appropriately at the spa, what to wear to the spa, what to pack for a spa day, and overall just good practice on being a thoughtful and considerate spa user. 

So if you are about to hear off for a dreamy day at the spa here is our guide on spa etiquette, rules, customs, and guidance to help you make the very best of your spa experience.

woman lying on sunbed in spa robe surrounded by gardens
Relaxing at the spa

Spa Etiquette Guide: 25 Spa Day Tips

1. Wear clean flip flops or slippers

Generally spas usually offer a pair of slippers for you to use for hygiene reasons. Alternatively, you can bring your own clean flip flops or sliders specifically for use in a spa/pool area. Never wear your outdoor shoes.

2. Shower before using the facilities

It is spa etiquette and for hygiene reasons you should have a quick shower to rinse off products, sweat, and dirt before using the pool, hydrotherapy, and spa facilities.

3. Remove skincare products for the sake of hygiene

Similarly, it is good practice to remove make-up and skincare products for hygiene sake. It also helps to prepare your face to make the most of the therapeutic benefits of the steam and sauna, etc.

4. Don’t wear perfume or thick products

You are going to be showering and rinsing them all off anyway, so avoid wearing perfume and heavy products. Likewise, you really don’t need to be wearing make-up.

If you use the hydro facilities such as the sauna, steam room, and pool, the makeup is just going to get in the way of your skin soaking up all the therapeutic benefits. And it might get in the way of sweating out all the toxins in your body.

5. Leave your mobile phone in the locker provided

You’re enjoying a luxury spa day so use this as an opportunity to leave your phone safely stowed away in the lockers and truly unwind. Some spas have a strict no-phone policy. Again, this is for your own relaxation as well as to not disturb other guests.

6. Keep your valuables in a locker

If possible try to leave most of your valuables at home but otherwise keep them stashed away in the locker provided.

7. Wear a bathing costume/swimwear (and take two sets)

Most of the spas in the UK, and the US I believe, have a policy of wearing a swimming costume at all times when using spa facilities.

This does differ for other countries (such as Japan’s Onsens, or Turkey’s Hammams) so do check for each locale.

Here it is customary to wear swimwear. I recommend taking two sets of swimwear so you can change into something dry over lunchtime or if you want to enjoy the dry areas and not sit in wet swimming costumes.

8. Check the restaurant dress code

Every spa is unique so we would recommend you check whether the restaurant at the spa has a dress code. Some allow robe and slippers at lunchtimes but casual or smart-casual in the evenings. Others require you to change into daywear to sit in the restaurant. If in doubt, ask the spa assistants for advice.

9. Observe quiet areas 

Most spas will have a quiet space – they will usually be called a relaxation room, or sleep pods, or chill out space. It is polite to not talk in these areas as other spa users might be resting, sleeping, or unwinding.

Everyone has a different way of relaxing, if you are on a spa day social with friends try to keep the chat to the more active areas so you do not disturb others spa experience.

10. Use your ‘spa voice’

It is generally good spa etiquette to use your ‘spa voice’. That is, try to speak in quiet, hushed voices so as not to disturb other guests on their own spa experience. In other ways, try to use your quiet ‘indoor voice’ during your time at the spa.

11. Book your meal times in advance

Some spas will allow you, and even encourage, to book your meal times in advance. This is ideal for planning your spa day and will ensure you are not waiting too long when you want refreshments. If you have booked a number of treatments for your spa day you will want your meal times to be planned around them.

12. Book your treatments in advance

It is also recommended that you book any treatments you would like in advance. Most spas will get booked up, especially for the popular treatments. 

Booking treatments in advance means you can plan your day better. For us, we like to have our treatments near the end of the day so that we can use the facilities first to unwind then leave the spa feeling totally relaxed.

13. Arrive 5-10 mins before treatment

It is customary to arrive at the treatment area or reception about 5 to 10 minutes before the treatment starts. This practice depends on each particular spa, some may want you even earlier.

In general, you need to arrive in advance to fill out any forms or questionnaires in advance of your spa treatment. You will want to get the maximum treatment time so if you arrive late you won’t get the full treatment.

14. Avoid eating a heavy meal before a treatment

Of course this might be difficult if you go to a spa with a delicious lunch offering, but if you can, avoid eating a heavy meal, or at least wait a little time for your food to settle before having a treatment. It can feel uncomfortable to prodded and poked whilst your stomach is sloshing about. 

15. Let therapists know of any illness or conditions

Either detail it on the treatment form or questionnaire beforehand or even let the spa reception know before you arrive if you have any specific illness or conditions. This gives the spa staff a chance to make any adjustments as necessary, or offer advice on the treatments and facilities you can use.

16. Do not go with athlete’s foot or verrucas

If you have a fungal infection or virus such as warts or verrucas please do be considerate and avoid using a spa until this has been cured and fixed. They are super contagious and it is not fair on others to put them at risk. Of course, this is also why it is recommended to wear the spa slippers/flip flops provided when using the spa facilities.

17. What to wear for a treatment

For your spa treatments, you can wear a swimming costume or underwear and it is usually just the bottoms. Sometimes the spa may provide disposable underwear for you to change into (don’t be afraid to ask which way round they go, I always forget!).

The therapist leaves the room for you to change and you cover yourself in the towel provided. If the therapist needs you to move they will hold up the towel to protect your modesty. If in doubt, ask the spa therapist.

18. Enjoy the silence

It is totally up to you if you speak during your treatment. It is perfectly fine to enjoy it in silence, you are there to relax after all. It has been known for us to sometimes drop off into a snooze during a particularly relaxing massage.

19. Guide on pressure and temperature

Massage etiquette says to let the therapist know if the massage pressure is too firm or too soft. Likewise, let them know if the temperature of the room needs adjusting etc. The therapist will want you to be as comfortable as possible.

20. Tipping customs

Generally tipping is not expected at spas in the UK and Europe but may be customary in other countries. However, if you would like to show your appreciation you can offer a tip after your session. If you are visiting somewhere new and a different country it is best to have a quick internet search on the local tipping customs there.

21. Drink water

We recommend you drink plenty of fluids whilst enjoying your spa day. Water is usually provided throughout the spa. You will dehydrate if you use the heat and thermal experiences.

Treatments such as massage tend to bring all the toxins in your body to the surface. It is good practice to keep drinking lots of water to stay healthy, hydrated, and happy during your experience.

22. Don’t hog the hot tub for more than 15 mins

Most hot tubs are limited in size and number at spas. As relaxing as they are, try to be aware that there will be other spa users waiting to use them. The recommended hot tub soak time is 15 minutes. So do be considerate and free up space for others to enjoy the facilities.

23. Dry yourself before using day beds

Please dry off with a towel if you are wet before lying on days beds or in the relaxation areas. It is not nice for other users to have to lie down on a soggy bed after you. I always pack an extra set of swimwear so I have something dry to wear for lunch and the afternoon on my spa days.

24. Do not take photos or video in the spa

Respect the privacy and quiet of other spa users and avoid taking photos or video during your spa break. The exception for this may be out in the grounds if your spa has these. Or perhaps in the restaurant or cafe areas. But in the spa and hydro areas, it is good practice to refrain from photography.

25. Be considerate

Try to be a considerate spa guest, be aware that other people are also on their own relaxation journey. Enjoy your spa experience, relax, and embrace the therapeutic benefits of the facilities and the treatments.

Woman wearing spa robe standing in tiled underground spa area
Spas around the world
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