Wellness vacation for beginners

Naked or with a towel? 6 etiquette tips that will save you embarrassing moments in the spa

Sunday, 08.03.2020 | 07:29

Should you go to the sauna naked or in your swimwear? Not all hotels have the same rules for staying in the spa area. Wellness hotel expert Andrea Labonte gives helpful tips and shows you how to avoid faux pas.

1. Book spa appointments before your stay

Are you looking forward to relaxing massages and facials before your wellness holiday? Then we recommend that you take a look at your hotel’s spa menu before you start your holiday. It’s best to book the treatments you want from the comfort of your own home. If you only tell us your preferred dates when you get to the hotel, you risk missing out. Especially during holiday periods, the most popular spa appointments in the afternoon and early evening are quickly booked up.

A little tip: If you would like to be massaged by a therapist of the same sex as you, express this wish in advance. The spa staff will usually do their best to accommodate your preferences. And if not, don’t worry, a trained therapist will respect your privacy at all times.


About the expert

Andrea Labonte has an unusual job that many people envy: she is a wellness hotel tester for the online guide Wellness Heaven. In this capacity, she not only collects splendid spa experiences, but also compiles the most bizarre incidents from her everyday working life in the regular column “From the life of a hotel tester”.

Having tested more than 400 wellness hotels, Andrea Labonte has a broad basis for comparison and knows what is important to the discerning traveler. Her professional background: she is an international business economist with a double degree. She completed her studies at the Mainz University of Applied Sciences and at the Ecole Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur in Paris.

Very important: While you are changing, the massage therapist should leave the massage room and only re-enter once you have made yourself comfortable on the massage table. The parts of your body that are not being treated will also be covered with towels.

2. Be punctual – if you arrive late, you will be left behind

When you arrive at the wellness hotel, it is advisable to arrive on time for your treatment. We would like to recommend this to you in this wellness etiquette guide. If you are late, you run the risk of receiving a shorter treatment than you booked. In consideration of subsequent appointments, your treatment time may be shortened according to your delay.

It is also worth cancelling in good time. If you cancel too late, you will often still be charged for your treatment, as the treatment appointment cannot usually be given to someone else at such short notice.

3. Pay attention to the dress code – high heels instead of flip-flops

As is well known, a day of wellness makes you hungry. To avoid embarrassment when going to a restaurant, it is advisable to ask about the restaurants and their dress codes when you check in. Is there a spa restaurant that you can visit in wellness attire or should you dress up between the sauna and steam bath? If you know the dress code, you can avoid being asked to leave the restaurant in your bathrobe as being “underdressed”.

Otherwise, anything that is comfortable is allowed in the wellness area. You will usually find a bathrobe, slippers and sauna towels in your room. Despite the fact that flip-flops are often offered, it is advisable to bring your own flip-flops with you. Hotel slippers are usually made of fabric and will quickly wear out after swimming or using the sauna. The sauna area in most German spa hotels is a textile-free zone. Swimwear is only worn in family saunas or textile saunas.

If you are enjoying a wellness holiday abroad, you should definitely find out about the customs there. In many countries, such as North America, Italy, France and sometimes even England, dressing up in the sauna is frowned upon. It is best to arrive at the massage you have booked in a bathrobe. The therapist will usually give you a disposable pair of briefs that you can wear during the treatment. Swimwear is recommended in the swimming pool and whirlpool, while a sports outfit is appropriate for the fitness courses offered.

4. Appropriate behaviour for sauna and steam bath

For hygiene reasons, you should shower thoroughly before entering the sauna, but then enter the sauna dry. In order not to disturb other guests, you should close the sauna door quickly and remain quiet in the sauna – if you want to have a conversation, only do so in a whisper.

When you sit down, make sure that there is a towel between your body and the wooden bench. You should also avoid getting too close to the person sitting next to you in the sauna. Resist the urge to openly stare at the person sitting opposite you, even if they have an oversized bird of paradise tattoo on their chest that is almost beyond reproach. Inappropriate staring has no place in the sauna.

In contrast to the sauna, in the steam bath you clean your place thoroughly with the water hose before you sit down and leave the steam bath. Here, too, towels are usually available to lay down for the steam bath visit. After the sauna and steam bath, a shower is recommended. Cooling off in the plunge pool is also suitable for improving blood circulation and strengthening the immune system. But only if you have showered thoroughly beforehand. Otherwise, you rightly risk causing acute disgust among the other wellness guests.

5. Don’t make big speeches

Always remember that other guests in the wellness hotel want to relax and unwind above all else. That’s why ringing smartphones and loud phone calls are out of place in the hotel spa. Loud laughter with your best friend or loud arguments with your partner who doesn’t agree with you have no place in the wellness area either.

If you know you’re a chainsaw snorer, you should retreat to your hotel room for a long nap out of consideration for the other guests and not snooze in the relaxation area. And although the dried fruit and teas in the spa are delicious, loud smacking and slurping noises are taboo in the wellness area.

6. A “thank you” is good manners

The employees in a wellness hotel often give their best. Therefore, not only the waiter in the restaurant or the cleaning staff in the room, but also the beautician in the spa are happy to receive a friendly “thank you” and a tip. For a spa treatment, ten percent of the treatment price is a good guideline and a sign of appreciation.

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