What to expect at a Day Spa

by Glenn Reynolds

What exactly goes on behind the doors of a day spa?

Most people don’t know what happens in a day spa until they try it. That’s fair enough, as most spas are behind closed doors, and even the foyer doesn’t really give much away.

Let me take you behind the scenes of a generic day spa to fill you in on some details that you may wish to know. You can also checkout my 5 tips for newcomers, and also information on spa etiquette.

You will be greeted in a reception area, and asked to fill out a health questionnaire in the waiting room, somewhat like going to a medical practice for the first time. Some spas will ask you to remove your shoes at this point, offering slippers in return.

If you are having a facial, massage or body treatment, someone will show you to the change rooms, where you will undress and put on a robe and slippers. For facials, you may only need to remove the top half of your clothing. For body treatments, you may be asked to use disposable underwear. Manicures (hand treatment) and pedicures (foot treatment) are done in a chair, and usually do not require changing. A small locker will be available for your street clothes. At this point you may return to the lounge area or another relaxation area in the spa.

Your therapist will collect you from the waiting area and guide you to the appropriate therapy room. They will introduce the therapy to you, point out the features of the service and explain the procedure that will be followed. If they don’t, please ask them to.

If you are having a massage, body treatment or hydrotherapy, the therapist will exit the room, to allow you to disrobe and get on the table, or in the tub and make yourself comfortable. On their return the therapist will begin treatment.

You may be asked to rollover at some point, if the treatment is for the whole body, in which case, the therapist will proceed in a professional manner, making sure your privacy is maintained at all times.

If you are having a second treatment, you may be offered clean underwear and a chance to put on the robe and freshen up a little before being lead to another room for the next stage.

After all treatments have been finished, the therapist will exit the room again, to allow you the space to slowly get up off the table or out of the tub, put on your robe and make your way to the relaxation area. You will be offered water and or herbal tea, and maybe something light to eat.

You can recline in the chairs, read magazines or just rest before making your way back to the change room to get dressed. Some spas offer showers to remove any residue remaining after treatment or just to freshen up. After dressing, you are usually met in the reception by your therapist who may offer you suggestions for products that will care for your skin in-between spa sessions. You can decline their offer to purchase and they won’t be offended. They may offer you some trial packs instead.

Finally, payment is usually made at the end of the session, and I would encourage you to rebook your next appointment at this time to make sure you get a time that suits. Enjoy!

For related posts, see:

5 tips for Day Spa virgins
Day Spa etiquette
Day Spa FAQ

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rose July 13, 2007 at 12:49 am


I found this post especially interesting because I was curious about whether the process is the same in Australia as the U.S., or where it differed. I remember interviewing an ISPA board member about spa etiquette. She was Austrian or French, I believe, and talked at length about how Americans who visit European spas are shy about nudity and would get very stressed about stripping down completely or having certain body parts touched. Whereas it is most commonplace to them. Where do Australians fall on this continuum?


Andrew July 13, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Hi Rose,

Great comment! It’s a very good question, too. I haven’t polled people on their opinions, but have spoken to a great number of spas. Probably one third of spas here allow clients to strip completely for body therapies. The rest ask clients to wear disposable underwear.

So, in my opinion, it seems that Australians may fall somewhere in between Europe and the US.

I’d say more clients would be OK with being unclothed for treatments, but some spas are worried about occupational health issues for female practitioners. This shows a conservative bias in our society, too. We’re not as liberal as Europe, certainly.


Health Spa Services January 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm

This post was really great & informative… But what in case of certain Spa treatments like "Brazilian Waxing".?qpvi


Glenn January 21, 2009 at 9:07 am

Hi Health Spa Services,

I’ve tried a wax service, and although you may be more exposed than other services, the practitioner was very professional and made me feel very comfortable. I’d suggest choosing a therapist with loads of experience, recommended by others if possible, and have a discussion with them beforehand.


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