You have spa etiquette questions, we have answers! Whether it’s your first time at the spa, or you’re a regular R ‘n’ R seeker with a burning desire to clarify certain spa rules — these friendly reminders are sure to help.
Get the inside scoop on the three most popular queries, that are often the toughest to ask: showering, attire (or lack thereof), and gratuity. Plus discover valuable insights on other hot spa treatment topics that you may not even know exist!
Certain spa etiquette rules of thumb may vary slightly across spa locations and services. So if you’re trying out a new pamperin’ place, using a Spafinder Gift Card to delight in a new treatment, or attempting to work more spa days into your lifestyle — be sure to do a little extra research on your own as well, in order to optimize your outing.
14 Essential Spa Etiquette Rules to Remember
1. Tips are truly appreciated.
Spas services are, quite possibly, one of the most sought-after and brilliant commodities in the world. So it’s always nice to thank your masseuse for his/her talents and a job well done. While some spa locations may implement a resort fee, don’t let this fool you into thinking there’s a guaranteed tip included in it for your therapist — many times there is not. The same goes for receiving a spa escape as a gift. In both cases, it’s polite to check with the front desk to inquire on gratuity proceedings. Wondering how much to tip for a spa treatment? Generally, 15-20% is an appropriate amount.
2. Respect the ‘no phone’ zones.
This one may be the king of all spa etiquette rules! The staff at spas work very hard to cultivate an atmosphere of complete relaxation. Maintaining this effort also requires the cooperation of guests. When you book a spa treatment, understand that you’re immersing yourself in a place that strives to be void of distractions. Whether there is formal signage about this spa tip or not, regard it carefully for the enjoyment of fellow spa-goers — and to add to your own enlightenment as well.
3. Arrive 20-30 minutes early.
The appointment time you’re confirmed for often indicates the precise time your spa treatment will start. It usually does not take other arrival activities into account, such as check-in, changing, touring the amenities (especially if it’s your first time at the spa), or enjoying a cucumber water as you lounge before a session. So make a point of arriving 20-30 minutes early, in order to be “on time.”
4. Communicate your preferences.
Sometimes, guests are too concerned about spa etiquette, and therefore are a bit timid about talking during spa treatments. But truth be told, communicating with your therapist is actually quite polite! The therapist will appreciate you expressing how he/she can best optimize your experience. So feel free to verbalize preferences of music volume, massage pressure, amount of chit-chat (or none at all!), table temperature, and so on. Another important spa rule is to let therapists know any health concerns or problem areas you may have, so they can work around it or adapt their technique to accommodate it.
5. Call ahead to confirm.
While this spa tip isn’t a necessity, it’s a great way to prep for your spa day, to ensure everything goes smoothly and your R ‘n’ R is top-notch. Give your scheduled spa location a jingle, confirming not just your appointment and arrival times, but also that preferences have been noted in your reservation (such as therapist gender, treatment type or duration, payment via out of pocket or with a gift card like Spafinder, and so on). This gives the spa some time to make any tweaks, if needed.
6. Use an “inside spa voice.”
This is a great spa etiquette tip to utilize, to ensure the comfort and ambiance of all guests. Even in areas that aren’t designated as ‘no talking’ spots, it’s highly recommended to use a voice that’s as quiet and soothing as possible when/if chatting with a friend or spa employee. In fact, if you’re sharing amenity space with other guests, it’s good form to go the extra mile and ask if they mind background conversation.
7. “Do I wear my birthday suit?”
There are no spa rules set in stone to answer this popular question. But a rule of thumb to keep in mind is that your spa treatment is all about YOU. So do whatever makes you feel relaxed and most comfortable. Be assured that while a therapist works on a massage area, the rest of you will always be skillfully covered by a sheet. But if comfort to you means keeping those whitey-tighties in place, that’s totally fine. And for those opting into body wraps, scrubs, or hydrotherapies — a bathing suit is a great option, if the ‘birthday’ variety isn’t your top choice. Have no fear about offending your therapist, whether you opt for “bare skin” or “skibbies” — they can accommodate it all!
8. Kindly cancel appropriately.
For most spas, cancellation policies usually require at least a 24-hour notice that you can’t make your appointment. Spa etiquette rules such as this are in place so as to be respectful of a therapist’s time and/or accommodate other interested spa guests. Cancellation policies may vary between spa locations, so if you’re new to a spot, be sure you’re aware of its specific guidelines.
9. Save snacks for later.
It may seem silly to have to include this spa tip, but let’s face it — we all get a little hungry (if not ‘hangry’) sometimes. It may seem like a sensible plan to bring something healthy and light to a rejuvenating spa day… but guess again! Simply put, a spa is not a café. So unless you have a medical reason to need a bit of a boost, keep the eats at home. Snacks interrupt a serene atmosphere (those healthy raw veggies come with quite the crunch-factor, and you can only imagine the mega-crinkle of organic granola bar wrappers). And they’re also are bound to leave behind crumbs and other residue, which doesn’t exactly scream “zen.”
10. Respect the ambiance of amenities.
If you choose to indulge in the spa location’s extras —like the sauna, hot tub, pool, etc.— remember you’re not alone. These are all places for other guests to relax, too. Avoid any horseplay or splashing and so forth, and keep any conversations at a soothing level.
11. Avoid alcohol before your session.
This piggybacks off the aforementioned ambiance of spas. Even just a drink or two can unintentionally increase vocal volumes. This can cramp another guest’s spa day, or even make it a bit tougher for a therapist to do their best work on you. Hydrating, on the other hand, both before and after your spa treatment, is a much healthier option to begin with. But if you’re on a getaway with friends and drinks are a ‘must’ on the agenda — go for the post-spa treatment cocktails, instead of pre-spa mimosas.
12. Freshen up before refreshing.
Listen up, ladies and lads — this one is a golden rule of spa etiquette! Therapists are able to work much more effectively when they are at ease. Which will turn out some amazing benefits for you! While it’s not recommended to over-prep for your spa session, it’s always appreciated if you arrive fresh and clean. So brush your pearly whites if a facial is in your future. Suds up between those toes before a pedicure. Or lather on the body wash in the shower before your massage commences.
13. Keep kids at home.
Believe it or not, some folks need this reminder. Yes, your mini-me’s might be the most adorable and well-behaved young’ns on the planet. And as child-loving as some spa guests may be, someone else’s kids are often the last thing they want to see or hear when they are committed to unwinding. Plus, you need to focus on YOU during a spa escape — not whether or not little Jimmy or Susie is still *hopefully* quietly watching the iPad in the corner. So snag a babysitter and relish your getaway!
14. Jeeper-creepers, close those peepers!
This spa etiquette suggestion comes to ensure both your comfort and your therapist’s. For you, it lets you slip into full relaxation mode. Shut your lids. Escape and drift away. For your therapist, he/she can likely work best when not on the receiving end of an awkward stare-down. It’s a win-win when your eyes are closed. Enjoy it.