9 Spa Etiquette Rules

So you’ve decided to reward yourself with some well-deserved pampering at a spa – how jealous we are! – but you’re a bit nervous. If you’re one of the many people jumping on the indulgence bandwagon, you may be unsure of the correct behavior that’s expected while at a spa. While we may not know what etiquette is appropriate for a formal dinner party, we always have the benefit of observation on our side – simply follow the lead of the person next to you! Unfortunately, this isn’t possible in a spa, for the treatment rooms are private. Luckily for you, we’ve prepared a handy guide to spa etiquette to put your mind at ease:

1. The Cardinal Rule: Arrive On Time

This is crucial. Arriving on time or early for your appointment is not only courteous to the facility, but also allows you maximum treatment time. It’s win-win!


2. To Disrobe or Not Disrobe – That is the Question

A common concern of many, most spa owners say that as a client you should do whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Generally speaking, you should undress completely for body services, and your therapist will keep your body draped in dry services and only expose the areas to be worked upon. However in wet services such as body scrubs, body wraps and hydrotherapies you will not be draped in order to reap maximum benefits from these services, but swimsuits can be optional.

3. Relax…But Accept When It’s Over

For Pete’s sake relax, that’s why you’re in the spa! Just remember that unfortunately you’re not the spa’s only client, and that you will have to leave upon completion of the service within a reasonable amount of time (meaning you can’t veg all day in the room no matter how comfortable you are).

4. The Spa is Not a Daycare

Even though the receptionist sounded so calm and relaxed on the phone, it doesn’t mean that she’ll be that pleased to watch your children while you unwind. Not only do screaming children (or behaved ones) disrupt other spa goers, it’s really just not wise to leave your tykes unattended. Since you’re splurging on the spa treatment, why not splurge on a babysitter as well.

Remember that you’re still in a public place, and you need to share it respectfully with other spa goers.

5. The Spa is Not a Snack Bar

Please don’t bring food or refreshments with you. How would you like to lay down on the table only to discover a pretzel wedged into your stomach? Save the snacks for after the service.

Spa Faux Pas A Guide to Spa Etiquette6. Silence is Golden…

Much like in a movie theatre, you’d like to be uninterrupted by annoying cell phones, pagers and loud conversation. Most likely other patrons will too. Remember that you’re still in a public place, and you need to share it respectfully with other spa goers. Turn the devices off and use your “indoor voice”.

7. …But Some Talking is OK

Ok, so you can be quietly talkative. This isn’t a library. If you don’t give the therapist feedback as to your comfort and special troubled areas, you may not get the treatment you’re after. They’re not mind readers; you need to tell them what works and what doesn’t! Also be sure to give honest feedback to the owner, receptionist and so on, so that the establishment can make any corrections necessary. They’ll appreciate your honesty.

8. Cleanliness IS Godliness, Even in a Spa

Ok, so you don’t have to “prepare” for your trip to the spa. You don’t need to clip your toenails or shave your legs before a pedicure. But just think about how appreciative the esthetician will be if you’re freshly showered and clean! It’s more enjoyable for them, which really can only translate into more enjoyment for you. It’s just logical.


9. Here’s a Little Extra, Buy Yourself Something Nice…

As in all service-related businesses, it’s common practice to reward a satisfying job with a tip. Be sure to check if gratuities are included in the service you’re getting and be prepared according to your experience and desire to tip. The rule of thumb in day spas is 10%-15% of the cost of the service, or about $10.00 to $15.00 for a one-hour treatment. Also be sure to remember that gift certificates don’t include a tip. Spas usually provide an envelope at the front desk when checking out for you to place the gratuity into it with the therapist’s name, so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash with you during your treatment.

Abiding by these simple rules will maximize your spa experience. Just relax and enjoy!

A writer and graphical artist since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary lives in New York City and is the CEO, Editor-in-Chief and creative director behind Urbanette. Hilary has traveled extensively around the world, looking for new hot topics, destinations and brands to bring to Urbanette readers. In her spare time she reads (currently: Start Something That Matters by her friend Blake Mycoskie) and regularly has dinner out with friends.
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"Relax but accept when it's over" - that's something I have to get used to. Cause most of the time, especially when I get a massage, I fall asleep. And the massage therapist would have to shake me very hard to wake me up. ;)