What you need to know
The Quality Street tin is empty, you’ve vowed never to sup prosecco again and the Nutribullet has been fished out from the back of the cupboard. What better way to start that New Year health kick than with a spa trip? Here Alex Lloyd offers a few key dos and don’ts
DO… wash those sweaty bits
You might be wallowing in water for much of the day but don’t turn up without having showered first – especially intimate areas that you plan to have waxed. If you know you might arrive in a rush, pop some wet wipes in your bag for a speedy refresh.
DON’T… worry about imperfections. Therapists have seen it all before. Stubbly legs, spotty backs and badly bitten finger nails shouldn’t stress you out or even need noting, unless you have a specific health complaint.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
DO… listen to instructions
Staff will explain very clearly what they need you to do. Try not to let nerves inhibit your hearing or you may end up fully clothed for your full body massage.
DON’T… feel foolish asking questions about what to wear, what to do and what a treatment involves. Better that than shrieking when your therapist unexpectedly scrubs your naked bum cheeks.
DO… put on the paper pants
Yes, they’re as sexy as Donald Trump’s hair but if provided, pop them on. It’s more hygienic for everyone and stops your nice knickers or pants getting covered in oil or wax (dress in underwear you don’t mind getting run over in’ is the spa rule of thumb) .
DON’T… wear the paper pants outside the treatment room.
Post-treatment, remove and bin – it’s not nice to leave your damp drawers for the staff to dispose of. And certainly don’t parade them around the relaxation area.
DO… give direction
Your therapist might be an expert, but they are not a mind reader. Rather than quietly fuming that your massage is more of a tickle than a pummel (or uncomfortable rather than unwinding), explain what you would like – and ask for changes if needed.
DON’T… complain afterwards.
This just pleases no one – and kills the spa serenity you were hoping to enjoy.
Therapists will take it as a compliment if you are so relaxed, you fall asleep. Dribbling and breaking wind are also OK if accidental, although trumping at will – and in communal areas – is not on.
DON’T… share your germs.
Got a cold? Reschedule.
DO… be a brave soldier
Waxing hurts but it’s not the poor therapist’s fault if your pain threshold tops out at a bruised knee. Thrashing about like you’re about to die is both cringeworthy and makes their job ten times harder.
DON’T… shave in the shower.
Communal spaces should not be treated like your personal bathroom. So shaving faces, legs and armpits is out. Ditto plucking pubes. Groom before you leave the house or simply embrace the fuzz.
DO… adopt a ‘spa voice’
Notice how all spa staff sound like the voiceover lady from the M&S adverts and ensure you use the same hushed tones. The walls are thin – no one wants some bellowing idiot interrupting their expensively purchased state of serenity, thank you very much.
DON’T… make small talk.
The steam room is not the place to swap niceties about the weather with a complete (and partially dressed) stranger. And if you’re not comfortable with silence, pulling out a mobile for a catch up with your mate is an absolute no-no.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
DO… leave room for manoeuvre
Take the tube approach when entering the sauna or Jacuzzi. Never sit next to someone you don’t know when there are plenty of empty seats elsewhere. No one likes knocking naked knees, particularly against members of the opposite sex.
DON’T… be greedy. Treat the facilities as you would toys at a children’s party – let the other guests have a go. Hogging the hot tub will only send temperatures rising all round.
DO… let your inhibitions go
Going fully-dressed into the sauna is likely to draw more stares than exposing yourself in a swimsuit. Embrace the experience. And if abroad, comply with the nudity norms – foreigners can be offended by us Brits’ refusal to get naked.
DON’T… get frisky. Not even in the couples’ treatment room (see earlier point about thin walls…). This is a non-negotiable rule.
DO… express your gratitude
Mind-blowing massage? Staff will appreciate a thank-you – just leave it at reception rather than pushing a sweaty tenner into their oily hands.
DON’T… feel under pressure to pay extra.
Tipping is not customary in the UK so there’s no obligation, no matter how intimate your treatment is.