Spa Etiquette Around The World
Tags: Banya, global spa, Norm Bond, Onsen, Russian, Sauna, Saunameister, spa travel, Vogue Consulting
It’s travel season and for many of us spa people there’s nothing we love more than trying different types of treatments. But even seasoned spa aficionados may have questions on how to avoid an embarrassing faux pax.
Thank you to Moontide Consulting’s digital guru, Norm Bond for finding this fun article The Vogue Guide to Spa Etiquette Around the World.
Traditional Saunas in Germany, Austria and Finland
- Nude areas mean nude, so only a towel is acceptable as a cover-up. Swimsuits are considered unhygienic.
- Footwear should not be worn inside.
- Tranquility is key: use a hushed voice when speaking and be mindful of those trying to relax around you. German saunas favor total silence.
- Pouring water over the coals should only be done by the Saunameister.
- Men and women can sauna together, but separate saunas are often also on offer
The Russian Banya
- Unlike the preferred silence of the German sauna, this is a social place, and a favourite spot for friends and colleagues to meet and socialize.
- It’s hot and wet: expect to sweat, and lie flat in order to be able to stay longer.
- Be wary of how slippery the floors are from the steam – you might want to consider wearing flip-flops or slides.
- Usually you’ll take three or four rounds in the hot room, cooling down in the main hall in-between.
- Expect plenty of invigorating scents, such as eucalyptus, mint and sage, which are wafted around, so best not to go if you’re prone to allergic reactions.
- Bundle of birch leaves are soaked in water and then slapped against the skin, so be prepared for this gentle assault from the therapists.
- Bathing areas are separated for men and women. Bathers don’t wear any clothes or underwear.
- At the small washing area (they usually come with a tap, bucket and shower), scrub, shampoo and fully wash yourself while being mindful of not wasting water and splashing your neighbor too much.
- Wash your cleaning station thoroughly afterwards and when you’ve finished, flip your washing bucket upside down to show you’ve cleaned your station.
- “The onsen, or Japanese bath, is very sacred, so guests should shower before entering the hot bath and not wear any clothing as it may cause the water to be less pure,” says Victor Rinaldi, director of the spa at Aman Tokyo.
- Leave your wash cloth on the side (or rock if it’s a hot spring); if you must keep it, fold it and put it on your head. You can use it to clear away sweat, but don’t immerse it in the water, as this is considered unhygienic.
- Don’t wear your hair down in the bath. Keep it tied up in a topknot or under a shower cap.
Some public baths will not admit people with tattoos, as these are sometimes associated with the Japanese mafia (yakuza).
Want to read the article in its entirety? Check here.