The Art of Gallivanting

Spa Etiquette and Tips on How to Get a Massage at a Spa

From what to wear, when to shower, and how much to tip, this etiquette guide will explain what to expect from an upscale massage experience.

Spa Etiquette and Tips on How to Get a Massage at a Spa

Within the discreet confines of tranquil retreats featuring soothingly-exotic music and jasmine-infused tea, luxury spas offer a variety of indulgent services from manicures, pedicures, and facials to aromatherapy, full-body scrubs, and deep-tissue massage. So what's the best way to make the most of your trip to the spa and fully appreciate its peaceful environment? From questions like what to wear and when to shower to answers such as what requests to make and how much to tip, this guide to spa etiquette explains what to expect from an upscale massage experience.

1) Arrive early.

Feel free to wear comfortable clothes to your appointment, and plan to arrive approximately 15 minutes before your scheduled spa treatment in order to fill out a confidential health history form upon your first visit.

2) Eat light.

Avoid overindulging in alcohol or caffeine beforehand, and consider eating a light snack rather than a full meal immediately prior to your appointment so that you will feel more comfortable during your session.

3) Dial down.

Allow yourself plenty of unrushed time to get settled in. Depending on the facility, you will be greeted and then directed to either a shower area with lockers or straight to a treatment room. Take this time to turn off your cell phone, use the restroom, and begin stowing away your belongings.

4) Remove clothes.

You will be covered by a sheet and blanket at all times during your massage with the exception of the area of the body being worked. And while most people undress completely, you are perfectly welcome to remain partially clothed based on your comfort level. You will generally be given a robe and a pair of slippers to wear between the shower and treatment room, and then your massage therapist will respectfully leave the room for a few moments while you disrobe and find your place under the sheet on the massage table.

5) Shower first.

As a courtesy, you should take a warm to hot shower either before you leave your home or when you arrive at the spa. Removing daily environmental pollutants and loosening up the muscles will increase treatment benefits. You may want to shower after a massage as well to rinse off excess lotion and oils.

6) Make requests.

Your massage therapist (who should no longer be referred to as a "masseuse") will begin by asking you a few general questions about whether you have any particular concerns that might need to be addressed. Feel free to make your wishes known regarding what specific areas you'd like to have worked along with what levels of pressure you prefer, and don't hesitate to speak up kindly at any time if you are not comfortable or if something is not to your liking.

7) Just relax.

Once your treatment begins, all you need to do is relax. You may, of course, chit chat with your therapist if you like or ask a question at any time; but engaging in conversation is not expected, and lapsing into silence is perfectly acceptable as well. Don't worry about unshaven legs or a lack of pedicure as most therapists are well-accustomed to such circumstances. When your massage is completed, you will be given a few moments alone to redress before being directed back to the lobby.

8) Consider tipping.

Assumedly, your massage therapist will work to ensure that your experience is a good one; and while it is not required, it is considered customary to leave a tip if you have received good service. The recommended range for gratuities is between 10% and 20%, but tipping is always a matter of personal discretion.

9) Drink water.

It is important to rehydrate after a massage since lactic acid and toxins can be released into the blood stream. Drink plenty of water to flush metabolic wastes, help rebuild healthy muscle tissues, and restore your body's proper balance.

10) Stay healthy.

Be sure to consult your physician before undergoing any massage therapy. Although there are several medical conditions for which massage is not ideal, the worthwhile benefits of therapeutic massage can include reduced stress, increased circulation, decreased blood pressure, decreased anxiety, strengthened immune system, and much more.

Continue checking The Art of Gallivanting for additional information about recommended spas.