Last Updated on February 10, 2021
Are you a little nervous about your first trip to the spa? Have you never before experienced a professional massage or never even set foot in a spa before now?
While your insecurity over what to expect may leave you feeling as if it would be better to stay home rather than possibly embarrassing yourself, you can set yourself up for success and act with confidence after reading this handy guide.
Here, you will find all of the answers to your most pressing spa visit questions, including that all-important question, “how much to tip for a massage”.
See Also: How Much Should You Tip a Barber?
How Should You Prepare for Your First Professional Massage?
When you first book your trip to the spa for a massage or any other service, ask any questions you have right away.
Find out when you should arrive, where you should go and what you should bring. You may also be able to fill out any forms ahead of time and bring them with you when you come to save you time on the day of your visit.
In most cases, you will want to arrive a minimum of 15 minutes before your massage time. This will give you enough time to check in, get yourself ready for your spa time and find a comfortable place to relax.
Depending on the spa, you may even be able to enjoy water or a light snack in a dimly lit room as you get your body and mind ready for what is next.
How Much Clothes Should You Take Off?
One of the most concerning questions in your mind may be just how much you should take off once you get to the spa. Most spas will give you a robe to wear while you are there, and you should not feel embarrassed by this because all the other guests will be wearing the same thing.
Once you have your street clothes off, you will need to decide if you want to take the rest of your clothes off or if you would feel more comfortable in your underwear. For women getting a massage, you will definitely want to take off your bra, which could otherwise impede your masseuse.
Whether or not you should take off your underwear is generally left up to your own judgment. It is perfectly fine to strip down all the way because your massage therapist will be sure to keep you tastefully covered while working.
However, if you feel more comfortable in your undergarments or if you are only getting a shoulder and upper back massage, you may prefer to leave your undergarments on throughout your appointment.
Can You Speak Up and Ask Questions?
Before your massage starts, you should definitely feel comfortable enough to ask any questions you have. Let your massage therapist know that this is your first professional spa treatment, and he or she should respond accordingly.
Once the massage starts, you may find that you have a question about what is going to happen next or how you should position yourself. If you are unsure or concerned about anything, be sure to ask and set your mind at ease so that you can relax throughout the rest of your appointment.
Related: Hand and Stone Massage Membership and Rates
What Should You Do When the Massage Is Over?
When your massage is over, your masseuse will leave the room and give you a chance to unwind a bit and get dressed. While you can feel free to take a minute or two to leave, you will not want to fall asleep on the table as the masseuse most likely has other clients after you.
However, many spas have other areas you can enjoy following your appointment. You might be able to take a relaxing trip to the steam room, enjoy a warm shower, rest outside with a cool drink or sit with your eyes closed in a semi-private room.
You definitely don’t have to worry about leaving a tip right away but can take care of that at the end of your visit.
Should You Tip After a Massage?
Most likely, one of the other biggest questions on your mind is how much gratuity you should leave or whether you need to leave any at all.
First, you should find out whether the spa already includes tips in its prices, such as what you might expect with an all-inclusive package or what might happen at a hotel that automatically adds the massage to your room bill.
Some, such as Portland area massage therapist Lenka Dresselhaus state that “tipping is not necessary or expected”. But ultimately, it’s up to the client to decide on whether to leave a tip or not.
If you do not know whether a tip is included or expected, be sure to ask at the front desk. But most often, you will want to leave a tip.
How Much Should You Tip for a Massage?
The average tip for a massage at most spas, such as Massage Envy or Elements Massage, is 15 to 20 percent. This is about much as you would give to a server at your favorite restaurant.
In general, opt for the higher end of the tip range if you had a great experience and plan to come back in the future. Of course, if you had a superb time and your massage therapist did exactly what you needed, feel free to tip more than this.
On the other end of things, if your experience wasn’t the best, leaving a smaller tip is fine and you should not feel obligated to leave any tip if you had a poor experience. Make sure you communicate your displeasure to management if there were any problems. While most massage therapists are friendly, skilled, and professional, there are some that aren’t and their employer should know about it.
When tipping, consider putting a cash tip in an envelope, which is often provided at the front desk at many spas. This will ensure your massage therapist will receive the tip the same day. You can also include a personal thank you on the envelope.
Keep in mind that if you received your massage as a gift, used a gift card to pay for your treatment or got a discounted rate with a coupon, you should still provide a tip based on the original cost of the service.
Remember that communication is key to a great massage and to an overall wonderful experience at the spa. From questions beforehand to communication during your treatment, spa staff and your masseuse want to know what they can do to make your experience as good as it can possibly be.
This way, your masseuse can concentrate on the right areas, provide just the right pressure and help you relax during your luxurious, self-care experience.