Use of spas, complementary therapies and natural treatments has increased enormously in recent years, and the success of the industry ensures that many new consumers will try them out for the first time. But spa culture in the UK is changing, absorbing influences from Europe, the Far East and America, and creating new, innovative environments and facilities of its own.
For first-time users there are always questions regarding the culture and etiquette surrounding the use of spa facilities.
Our spa etiquette FAQ should help people to feel comfortable when considering a visit or a treatment. However, individual spas and therapists will have their own style and method - the best advice of all is to telephone before your visit and ask whatever question you wish to discuss.
What do people wear for spa bathing and/or treatments?
On many parts of the continent, nakedness is an accepted part of spa culture. However, in the UK, spa bathing and other communal areas almost invariably require bathers to wear swimming costumes. Take your costume and a robe (though robes and towels are often provided).
Saunas often have single-sex areas where it is quite usual to go naked. However, in mixed saunas, it is still the norm to wear a towel or a bathing costume.
For specific treatments it is quite normal to wear underwear, a costume or a towel if you wish. If you choose not to wear clothes, you will generally find that therapists ensure you are modestly covered by towels at all times, and may supply paper knickers or pants, especially for treatments involving bathing.
If in doubt, ask. People in this industry are, by their nature, not embarrassed by these questions.
Who will help me choose my treatment, or advise of the best treatment for a specific condition?
Individual therapists should be able to give you all the advice you need on their own particular treatment and the products they use. In a spa or other health retreat there will usually be a medical advisor whose advice you can seek before finalising your visit. If you are worried about any aspect of your visit or treatment please ask.
What if I have a special health consideration?
You will usually be asked to complete a medical questionnaire prior to your treatment. In a spa there will generally be a medical advisor who has responsibility for advising guests whether the available treatments are suitable in relation to specific medical conditions.
For men attending spas, are there any special points of etiquette to observe?
More and more men are going to spas and enjoying treatments such as facials for the first time. There are no particular points of etiquette that apply specifically to men - however, your facial, for example, will be more effective if you shave at least a couple of hours beforehand.
Can I visit a spa while pregnant?
Yes, and you will benefit from being able to relax in comfortable surroundings, with some pampering treatments to give you a boost of confidence when you may not be feeling at your best. You must check with your midwife or GP or on-site medical staff which treatments are recommended, if there is not already a special mum-to-be package on offer, as some treatments are not advised during pregnancy. These would include hydrotherapy and bathing treatments, many forms of massage (except head and shoulder massage), wraps and treatments involving heat, such as steam rooms, sauna, and bubble-jet baths.