Ah, the spa. That relaxing, slightly steamy escape of hot stone massages, twinkly oriental music and an overweight man sweatily invading your personal space. Wait, what was that last one?
There’s always one thing in the spa that takes the edge off the experience. One inconvenience, no matter how small, that stops you reaching a level of true relaxation. And, although you’ll certainly have been the victim in this spa-based scenario, how aware are you that you have probably, multiple times, also been the villain?
So hitch up your modesty towels gents, because we’ve spoken to three of London’s top spa hotels to clear the steam and put together a definitive guide to male spa etiquette. Here’s what they had to say…
Respect the peace
It would seem to go without saying, but one of the most important rules in a spa is also one of the most frequently broken. We visit these hazy getaways to forget about the outside world – so, when someone is loudly complaining about their work or personal life in the sauna, it brings us crashing back to earth.
“We don’t have any rules specifically written for male spa guests,” says Aysun Mut, Spa Director at The Corinthia. “But we do demand a gentlemanly respect for other users – which means respecting the tranquil atmosphere of the spa.
“Mobile phones are discouraged,” Mut adds, “and deeper relocation areas such as Sleep PODs are noise and conversation free zones.”
Shower before your treatments
Most of us wouldn’t dare strip down and receive a massage or treatment without thoroughly cleaning our bodies beforehand. Apparently, some of us would – and it’s a problem that the trained professionals in spas are keen to see disappear.
"We do demand a gentlemanly respect for other users - respect the tranquil atmosphere of the spa..."
“Shower before a massage!” says Rachel Roselt, the Spa Director of Bulgari London. “Appreciate that a qualified professional is carrying out your treatment.
“Also,” she adds, “while you should always wear swimwear in heat experiences and underwear provided for treatments, you should always avoid wearing wet swimwear for a treatment.”
Speaking of keeping things clean…
You know where we’re going with this. Probably the most important piece of spa etiquette – and one that a true gentleman shouldn’t even have to be told – is that you need to keep things appropriate. It’s obviously an intimate environment, with steam rooms and massages meaning you’ll get closer to people than you ordinarily would – but you must still respect boundaries.
“Very occasionally,” says Caroline Hoey of the Athenaeum Spa, “we encounter male guests who don’t want to wear the modesty towel. Obviously this is over-stepping the mark, and any treatment or massage will be terminated immediately.
“Our spa, in particular, is co-ed,” continues Hoey, “So we tend to see guests in couples. But swimwear met be worn whilst using the spa and sexual behaviour of any kind in and around the facilities will not be tolerated.”
Don’t linger for too long
True, spas are places where you are encouraged to relax and unwind. But you can do so to a fault. Spend your entire day in the steam room and not only will you have likely done damage to yourself, but there’ll also be a queue of people who’ve been waiting to sweat out some toxins for hours – but who were too British to ask you to budge.
"Guests are advised to spend no more than 10 minutes in the steam room or sauna..."
“We would recommend a minimum of three hours spent in the spa,” says Aysun Mut, of the Corinthia. “But guests are advised to spend no more than 10 minutes at a time in the steam room or sauna.”
Relax - but remember you’re still in public
It can be difficult, when you’re two sessions in the steam room, a laze in the hot tub and a deep tissue massage into your spa experience, to feel anything but ecstatically relaxed. But, even though there isn’t a Spa Director on earth who would want to take the edge off your unbridled unwinding, it is important to remember: the spa is still a public place.
“Any non-professional comments of behaviour will lead to a very unhappy departure,” says Rachel Roselt, of the Bulgari. “This includes smoking or narcotics, not placing your used earbuds in the bin or respecting the ‘towel border’ during treatments. We also ask to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.”
So relax, by all means gents, but don’t forget your standards, and never let your becoming behaviour slide.
Feeling comfortable? Next up: Here are the definitive rules of gentleman’s body hair…