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Spa Etiquette: Common Spa Questions Answered

If you only visit a spa a few times a year - or even if you're a frequent spa-goer - you probably still have a few unanswered questions about “spa etiquette”. With our roots in the bath culture of Hungary, we at Eminence Organics pride ourselves on being spa environment experts. Regardless of if you are visiting a Boston day spa, or the famous Budapest baths, we want to ensure your next appointment is a stress-free experience. Here are the spa etiquette questions (and answers) that you’ve been too afraid to ask:

mature woman receiving neck massage

Spa Etiquette 101: Preparing For Your Spa Day   

Should You Shave Before A Spa Treatment?

This is a very common question and the answer depends on the type of treatment you’ll be receiving. For example, it’s recommended that men shave the night or day before receiving a skin care treatment. For women, shaving before certain spa services could cause irritation. It’s always wise to inquire with the spa receptionist on what type of at-home prep is expected before you show up for your appointment. 

How Far In Advance Can I Cancel My Spa Service?

Most spas have a 24 hours cancellation policy so if you need to cancel, make sure to notify your spa in advance, otherwise you might be charged a fee. 

Is It Ok To Request A Male Or Female Massage Therapist?

If you have a preference for a male or female therapist – then simply ask! This is a common request that can be made when you book your original appointment. 

How Early Should I Arrive For My Appointment? 

The rule of punctuality might seem simple, but arriving on-time actually sets the scene for a relaxing spa experience. Arriving at least 15 minutes early allows you to sit back and unwind while you quietly sip on a cup of herbal tea, fill out the necessary paperwork and change into a spa robe if needed. Many spas also offer the use of their sauna and other complimentary amenities to their guests and arriving early to your appointment allows you to take advantage of those fancy spa perks. 

Is It Ok To Use My Cell Phone While At The Spa? 

No! There’s nothing more jarring than hearing a cell phone ring as you try to enjoy a rejuvenating spa treatment. Be considerate of your own spa experience as well as the experience of other guests by turning off your cell phone. Remember that you’re there to relax and unwind, and so are the others around you. 

at the spa

Will I Be Naked During The Treatment? 

This is probably the most common question that spa-goers are afraid to ask, but don’t be. Your therapist will make you feel comfortable and will give you instructions about what you should expect when it comes to undressing. If the treatment requires you to remove your clothing, your therapist will leave the room so you can do so privately. As a general rule, most treatments require that you are draped and most spas will provide a robe in the change room. You can often wear underwear during a massage, but for most body and massage treatments you might also be required to disrobe completely. If you’re not sure what to expect – just ask! 

Is It Rude To Speak Up During My Spa Treatment?  

Your therapist’s role is to create the most enjoyable experience possible, so it’s important to speak up if you have any questions or concerns. Before the treatment begins, make the spa staff aware if you’re pregnant, nursing or if you have any allergies or medical conditions.  It’s also important to let your therapist know when you feel uncomfortable at any time during your spa service. Whether it’s the pressure of the massage, room temperature, or even if you prefer more quiet time with less chit chat, make your therapist aware. You’re paying for a service and your esthetician will be more than happy to accommodate your needs. 

Should I Leave A Tip? 

In most cases, tipping is discretionary, but not mandatory. When it comes to tipping your therapist, a 15-20% gratuity is standard in North America and always appreciated, especially when you receive exceptional service. 

Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, Hungary

Spa Etiquette 201: Visiting Budapest’s Thermal Baths

For centuries, thermal baths and mineral springs have been a part of daily life in Budapest (and for good reason!). Used to treat a variety of physical ailments by simply soaking the body, a trip to the thermal baths is definitely a must if you ever find yourself in this magnificent Hungarian city.

Thermal baths in Budapest are plentiful, which means you’re sure to find one with just the right ambiance for your needs. Indoor and outdoor thermal pools come with their own respective amenities to make the experience even more beneficial. Head to an indoor thermal bath and you’ll likely see massage rooms, steam rooms and even plunging pools with ice cold water! Alternatively, outdoor thermal pools come with water features such as swimming pools, whirlpools and fountains.

Open year-round, these famous baths are the perfect stop on any itinerary. However, spa etiquette is definitely important when visiting any of Budapest’s thermal pools.

Ready to visit a thermal pool in Budapest? Here are some of the most common questions related to spa etiquette:

Should I wear a bathing suit?

The dress code at thermal baths in Budapest aren’t super strict, but covering up while using the pool, visiting public areas, and between massage treatments is expected. Proper swimwear is required, which includes bathing suits for women and swim shorts for men.

What other essentials should I bring?

You’ll definitely want to bring a few essentials with you! One of the most important things to pack is a pair of water-friendly shoes or sandals, as the floors within the thermal baths are wet and slippery. A towel is another essential, but if you forget one, most locations offer towel rentals. Be prepared for potentially long queues though, as visitors typically opt to rent towels.

Plan on visiting a thermal bath with a swimming pool? Most locations require a swimming cap to keep facilities clean and sanitary.

Are the baths family-friendly?

It depends on the age. Visitors 14 years of age and older may soak in thermal baths. For younger visitors (14 to 18 years old) it’s recommended to limit soaking to 20 minutes at a time to avoid overheating.

Due to the heat emanating from mineral springs and pools, it’s not advised to bring children under the age of 14 to thermal baths as cardiovascular systems aren’t fully developed enough to withstand temperatures; however, they’re more than welcome to enjoy other water facilities such as swimming pools.

Depending on which spa you visit, it’s a good idea to review the spa’s website as policies differ between establishments. Also, some thermal spas feature ‘family days’ (the entire family is encouraged to visit!) while other days may be reserved exclusively for adults. 

Are the baths for swimming or sitting?

Most visitors use thermal pools for sitting and soaking. If you prefer to swim, outdoor destinations often feature swimming pools which are more conducive to moving around. For the most part, thermal pools offer a chance to relax, be quiet and soak up the benefits of mineral-rich water, so always be respectful of the ambiance as well as basic European spa etiquette.

What do I wear for my massage?

In Hungary, it’s a typical practice to completely disrobe for spa treatments, including facials and massages. Because disrobing completely is common, your therapist will likely encourage you to do the same; however, you are always free to wear what makes you feel most comfortable whether that means donning undergarments or not. 

Therapists are wonderful at working around guest preferences if you prefer not to go with the standard disrobing, as is customary in Hungary. 

Is it customary to tip in Hungary?

Tipping is not required but, just as it is in North America, gratuity is always an appreciated and tactful practice. It also serves as an opportunity to show gratitude to your therapist for a job well done, so you definitely should tip! 

Whether you’re at a Budapest bath or a local spa, knowing the right etiquette is the first step to feeling comfortable and enjoying the full spa experience. Find out how you can bliss out with a soothing soak or an invigorating massage, and book a visit to your nearest Eminence Organics Spa Partner using our Spa Locator. What’s your go-to spa treatment? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.