The World Traveler's Guide to Spa Etiquette


Just as various treatments differ from around the world, so does spa etiquette. Whether simply traveling to a new spa for leisure, trying to create an authentic style treatment experience or just simply being curious, Vogue provides a guide to help avoid committing any spa "no-nos" no matter where you are. 

"Sow-na" Time in Austria, Germany or Finland

  • First and foremost, it's pronounced "sow-na" not "saw-na;"
  • Do not linger in the doorway. Cold air is basically taboo;
  • Nude means nude, but in these areas a towel can be used to cover up;
  • When in Germany, silence is valued during sauna time; and
  • Pouring water over the coals is a job for ONLY the saunameister.

Brushing Up on Russian Banya Etiquette

  • Be prepared for a gentle slap from a bundle of birch leaves that are soaked in water and then slapped against the skin;
  • These areas are meant for socializing, so talk away; and 
  • Prepare for lots of sweating and stay hydrated.

Enjoying the Sacred Japanese Onsen

  • Do not wear any clothes or underwear as to keep from contaminating the pure water;
  • Men and women are separated in these bathing areas;
  • In the washing area, move quickly as not to waste water and don't splash your neighbors;
  • Thoroughly clean you washing station when you are finished;
  • Do not put your wash cloth in the water, leave it on the side or put it on your head; and
  • Keep your hair tied up.

Getting Steamy in the Turkey, Moroccan and UAE

  • The hammams are based on the premise of a Roman bath;
  • Bring disposable underwear with you;
  • Keep it dirty, or rather, don't bathe before entering the hammams. The therapist will do that for you;
  • Be prepared to tip when going to a hammams in Turkey; and
  • Men and women are meant to stay strictly separated in these treatments.

North America, Australia and the UK Gets Hands On

  • When receiving a massage, it's expected to cover up with disposable underwear and robes;
  • Fully disclose any medical conditions and cosmetic procedures;
  • Keep quiet when receiving treatments; and
  • Voice any discomforts with pressure early on in the treatment.
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