Since prehistoric times, people have used mineral baths and other spa-like treatments for their restorative qualities. By Greek and Roman times, the spa had become an essential part of culture and self-care.
With such long and storied history comes a lot of tradition. Stepping into a spa can feel intimidating if you don’t know proper spa etiquette. Not sure how to spa? We’re here to help.
This is the essential guide for any spa newbie who wants to avoid a spa faux pas. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about spa etiquette!
What to Wear to a Spa
There’s no rule that says you have to dress up for a spa. Instead, your best bet is to wear your most comfortable clothes.
When you get to the spa, you’ll get slippers, a robe, and a towel to wear. Of course, if you’re more comfortable bringing your own, you can. Wear clothes that you can easily take on and off, so you won’t waste time changing in the locker room. You can also bring different clothes to put on after the spa treatment if you need to go straight to an even afterward.
It’s often best to avoid elaborate makeup or hairstyles at a spa. If you’re getting a facial, a steam treatment, or other types of spa treatments, your hair or makeup could get messed up or sweaty. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring a case to store them in as needed.
You may want to shower before leaving, depending on the treatment you get. If that’s the case, pack whatever toiletries you need for your shower, too.
Types of Spas
The specifics of your spa etiquette depend on the type of spa you visit. Here are some of the main spa types you might encounter.
This is a common type of spa for quick treatments. These spas offer many different treatments, but they probably won’t have other holistic offerings, like yoga classes.
At a day spa, you’re fitting a retreat experience into a matter of hours. They allow you to get a break from the “real world” without booking a whole vacation. You can book a single treatment or multiple spa activities. Visit the website for Victoria Spa for some examples of common day spa treatments.
On the other end of the spectrum is the destination spa.
A destination spa can be a part of a vacation package or even the main feature. These spas tend to offer holistic experiences, including meals, fitness sessions, guided meditation, classes, and much more. The specific offerings will vary depending on which destination spa you choose.
These spas can be days-long experiences from which you can walk away refreshed and educated on how to best care for yourself.
A resort or hotel spa offers a middle ground between a day spa and a destination spa.
The resort will probably offer many non-spa activities, too, from a pool to ziplining. You won’t be spending all your day at the spa, but you may spend a significant part of it there. Instead of a full list of guided activities, you’re in charge of deciding what to do, and when.
What Do You Do at a Spa?
As you can see, there’s a laundry list of things you might do at a spa. Spa treatments can span from manicures to Pilates sessions.
Resort and day spas offer you the full freedom to choose, while a destination spa might have an itinerary planned for you. But you never have to do things you’re not interested in or not comfortable with. It’s a good idea to have an idea of your boundaries before you head to the spa.
What to Expect at a Spa
Arriving at a spa for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Here’s what to expect after you walk through the door.
First, you’ll need to check in. You can let the front desk staff know that you’ve never been there before, and you can ask for a tour. This is also when you’ll get changed into the provided robe. You might want to shower, stretch, or do whatever you need to get relaxed and ready.
Then, you’ll wait for your treatment to begin. At some point in this process, you’ll be given a health questionnaire. This lets staff know about any allergies, medical conditions, and other things they should know about for your safety and comfort.
If there’s anything else you want the technician to focus on or know about you, make sure to tell them before the treatment starts. This will let them customize your treatment for your needs.
Spa Etiquette Tips
As you can see, your spa experience is fairly straightforward, and many people find spa etiquette easy to navigate. But these tips will help clear up the parts you might still be wondering about.
1. Arrive Early
Your spa experience won’t be as enjoyable for you or the technicians if you’re late. Arrive early, so you’ll feel relaxed and you won’t have to rush.
2. Put Away Your Phone
Spas are generally phone-free environments, even if there’s no rule that states it explicitly. If you might need it for emergencies, turn your ringer off and keep it in the pocket of your robe.
3. Remove Jewelry
Your jewelry will get in the way, and might even get lost, during a treatment. Leave it at home or put it in your locker before you begin.
4. Make Boundaries Clear
If there’s anything that’s off-limits for you or anything that can make you more comfortable, let your technician know. They’re there to help you! Also, make sure you book an appointment with a technician whose gender you feel comfortable with.
5. Leave a Tip
Tip your technician about 20 percent. At destination spas, there might be a service fee, but make sure to ask how much of it goes to the technicians. You may want to leave an additional tip for them if they don’t get the whole service fee.
Ready to Book a Spa Trip?
With these spa etiquette tips, you’re ready to enjoy any type of spa you choose. Go ahead — book your visit and prepare to feel good!
If you find that you love the wellness guidance offered by a spa, you might want to take things a step further. Check out our guide to hiring a wellness coach here.