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Visiting a spa for the first time can be a daunting experience. So, in this guide, we take a look at what you need to know ahead of your first-ever spa visit. We cover the spa packages available and the facilities you can enjoy. We also offer some hints and tips on enjoying your first spa experience.
The main types of spa are dry spas, which only offer treatments, and wet spas, which additionally have a range of leisure facilities. These may include:
- a swimming pool
- a hot tub/Jacuzzi
- a steam room and/or sauna
- a hydrotherapy pool
- relaxation rooms
- a gym or fitness suite
- additional thermal facilities (such as an ice cave or Rasul/Rhassoul mud chamber)
Spas will also have one or more treatment rooms, in which you can enjoy a facial, massage, pedicure, manicure and more. See more about this in our treatment guides.
Deciding where to spend your first spa experience can be difficult. The facilities and treatments on offer vary between spas and the right choice will depend on what you want from your experience. This may be a few hours of relaxing ‘me’ time, a weekend away, a get together with friends or a romantic escape. Your main choices are:
Nowadays, many hotels have a spa, with several treatment rooms and a selection of leisure facilities. Hotel spas are the best option if you’re looking to combine a spa break with other things, like fine dining and golf. However, you don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy a hotel spa – most hotels welcome day guests in their spas and offer full and half-day packages.
Day spas offer a wide range of treatments and leisure facilities but without accommodation. You can book a full or half-day package at these spas. Most will have catering facilities, so you can enjoy refreshments as part of your spa experience. An example of a day spa is The Beauty Island Sanctuary in West Sussex.
Health spas (or destination spas) are usually much bigger than hotel/day spas, with lots of treatment rooms and additional facilities. The focus will be on overall wellness, so alongside treatments like massages and facials, these spas often offer longer retreats that include diet and fitness. An example is Champneys Henlow Grange Health Spa in Bedfordshire.
Many gyms and health clubs now incorporate spa treatments and facilities. You can combine fitness with your spa experience, or simply enjoy a treatment. An example is the Bannatyne group of health clubs, which you can find across the country.
The types of spa package you can book range from half-day experiences through to overnight spa breaks.
These packages usually include a treatment and several hours use of the leisure facilities. Arrival time can be morning, afternoon or evening, depending on the package you choose. These packages sometimes include food and drink, as well as complimentary robe/towel hire.
Spa day packages are the same as described above but may come with additional treatments and use of the facilities for a longer period of time. Arrival time is often 9am or 10am, so you get to enjoy plenty of relaxation.
In addition to the inclusions above, spa break packages feature one or more nights’ accommodation, usually with an evening meal and breakfast. You can find these breaks at city, coastal and country spa hotels throughout the UK, making them a great way to relax and do some sightseeing.
Most spas welcome men (there are a few ladies-only spas out there) and offer tailored packages, with specialised treatments and use of the leisure facilities. Find out more in our men’s spa guide.
If you’re expecting a baby, planning a hen party or celebrating a special occasion, for example, there are spa packages tailored to your specific needs. Likewise, if you want to book a group spa experience, you can find packages suitable for multiple guests.
Most spas offer a wide range of treatments. However, be aware that if you book a package, you will be limited in your choice. For example, there may be set treatments included, or you may have a choice from a menu of options.
The most common spa treatments are massages, manicures/pedicures and facials. However, you might also see offered such treatments as a body scrub/exfoliation, a fingers or toes file & polish (like a mini manicure or pedicure) or a scalp massage. Find out more in our treatment guides.
When it comes to choosing a spa treatment, things to consider include:
- How comfortable are you getting naked? Some treatments will require you to partially or fully disrobe (more on this below). If this is a bit scary, stick to something like a head massage or a facial!
- Are you pregnant? There are special considerations when it comes to spas and pregnancy. This means some treatments and spa facilities will be restricted.
- Do you want a gentle or more robust massage? There are lots of different massages available, ranging from a light-touch back, neck and shoulders massage through to a stronger deep tissue massage. Do some research by looking through our massage guides before booking.
To get you started, we’ve picked out a few packages that will give you a great introduction to spa pampering and relaxation.
Pace Health Club and Nu Spa in Manchester offers a Refresh Mini Spa Day, which features the choice of 20-minute treatment, use of the spa’s leisure facilities and a discount on food and additional treatments.
If you’re looking for a more flexible option – or would like to treat someone to their first spa experience – how about a spa gift voucher? For the widest choice, you can select a voucher for a specific monetary value, which can be redeemed against services at our 500+ spas.
Alternatively, we offer a voucher for either a soothing 30-minute facial or relaxing back, neck and shoulders massage, both valid at 66 locations nationwide. This gives you (or your lucky recipient) the chance to try one of the most popular spa treatments without committing to a half of full spa day.
A further option is one of our Pamper Day vouchers, which comes with a range of inclusions. We have several to choose from, such as the Mini Pamper Day, which is available at 47 spas across the country.
As you’ll be spending much of your time in a robe or swimwear, your choice of outfit isn’t really that important, so casual is fine. The only exception is if you are going to a luxury spa, where a dress code may apply to some of the areas, such as the restaurant. If in doubt, check with us when you book or contact the spa ahead of time. If you are planning to enjoy a drink or dining experience along with your spa day, you might like to opt for smart-casual attire.
When it comes to enjoying the spa, you will be provided with a robe, towel and (often) slippers. Hire of these items may be free as part of your spa package or available for a small fee or deposit. You may bring your own, if you prefer. It’s also a good idea to bring non-slip flip-flops for walking around the wet facilities. If you are planning to take part in a fitness class or use the gym, don’t forget to bring suitable workout gear and a pair of trainers (with clean soles).
One essential is swimwear and you might like to bring a spare set, so you have something dry to change into. We should point out that nudity in the common areas of the spa (sauna/relaxation rooms, etc.) is not acceptable. When it comes to treatments, partial nudity may be required – for example, in a full body massage – but you will have privacy and the therapist will ensure your modesty is maintained. Disposable underwear is often provided. If you have any concerns, feel free to speak up! Find out more in our guide, What to wear on a spa day.
Do tell the spa if you are pregnant or have any medical issues: Some treatments and facilities may be off-limits, so it’s important the spa knows about any issues ahead of time.
Don’t be late: if you are late for your booked spa treatment, the lost time will usually be docked from your treatment time, so you’ll end up missing out.
Do check the inclusions of your spa package: We offer lots of spa packages, all of which have different inclusions, so check what is (and isn’t) included at the time of booking.
Don’t be afraid to keep quiet: Talking during your spa treatment is optional, so if you prefer to just relax (or even nod off!) that’s perfectly fine.
Do leave your mobile phone at home (or safely locked away): Spas are tech-free zones, so enjoy your digital detox! Leave your valuables in the locker provided or in your hotel room if you are booked on a spa break.
Don’t be shy about asking questions: Remember that spas (and all of us at SpaSeekers) want you to have a wonderful and relaxing time, so always raise any concerns you may have, either before or during your spa day/break.
Still have questions? Read more about spa etiquette in our FAQs.
Ready for your first spa experience? Contact the SpaSeekers’ team today.