Skip to Content

Etiquette: How to prepare for a spa treatment

As someone who has been flummoxed by spa treatment etiquette over the years, I thought I should write a quick ‘how to’ for those of you who are nervous about what should be an amazingly relaxing experience. Or excruciatingly painful, depending on what sort of treatment you’ve booked.

And therein lies one of the keys. Know whether you’re having a pamper massage with oils or a Thai massage in a pair of pyjamas.

What happened to my towel?!

Quite frankly, none of us like that awkward moment standing in the locker room wondering just how far to strip down.

Most will default to everything off except our knickers, but some therapists don’t mind either way and some even find it easier to massage your entire body without having to pause over your undies. Often the person who shows you to the changing room is not actually your therapist anyway, but the receptionist and it’s the therapist who will know best what they prefer.

And here’s a fact: once you’ve had your first naked massage you won’t be so prudish next time and might even find they have to ask YOU to put your pants on.

Take your cues from what they make available. If a pair of disposable knickers is included with your robe and slippers, put them on. You can always ask when you get to the therapist’s room whether they’d prefer to you keep them on, and if they say they don’t mind, then whip them off and stick them in your robe pocket. (Tip for men: the wider part of the paper undies goes on the front. I kid you not, some have put them on the other way round to hilarious effect.)

I prefer to err on the side of modesty and if no disposable g-string is provided and I have tried to gauge whether it’s a knicker on or off kind of place (yes, I’m resisting the happy ending gags), I keep my own on and have the choice of ditching them into the pocket once on the table.

After all the above is said and done, I prefer naked. That way when they fold the towel over one side of your body the therapist can massage in long heavenly strokes from your shoulder to your foot.

Ok, so that’s the undies.

What to expect from a full body massage:

Begin like this…

You’ll usually be asked to lie face down on the table peering through a hole to floor (sometimes with flowers for your viewing pleasure) and covering yourself with a towel or sheet that is on the table, while your therapist waits outside the door to give you time to strip off.

Once your back, arms and legs have been thoroughly worked over, they may ask you to turn over. Don’t panic! This is done very discretely and your bits will not be on show! Typically they will lift the towel off you and hold it up covering their own faces and ask you to roll over. You’ll also need to scooch down the table a little so your head doesn’t fall through the headpiece hole. Then they’ll lay the towel over you and move it in discrete sections to massage each leg, arm and possibly your neck and shoulders and chest.

Once I had my boobs and tummy massaged. I was quite shocked. Click here to read about my worst massage ever!

And if you haven’t had the “pleasure” of a traditional Turkish hamam, here is my awkward encounter>>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!