How to dress properly in a Wellness Centre

A sauna, a massage, a wellness treatment… luxury for few lucky people? Not anymore. Nowadays wellness centres are not only to be found in exclusive resorts and thermal structures, you can book a full treatment or just sip an infusion in relaxing corners even in average hotels.

Wellness democratisation brought up an etiquette issue. Is there really a dress code in such a place where you usually go around in swimsuit and flick-flocks? Of course the is. It is just unthinkable otherwise, since you have to stay very close to other – almost naked – people and, moreover, you are looking for peaceful moments and relax.

First thing you have to get used to is the white spongy embracing bathrobe. Give up your hopes, the size will never fit: too large for her, too small for him. Still, you will wear it with  nonchalance and it will become your uniform, the code for belonging in that place. Doesn’t matter if you are an executive, a movie star, a lawyer or a clerk. If you are on a business trip, even your boss will wear it, and you will see him with all his human imperfections (try to remember that next time you knock on his door with a shaky hand!).

But do you really have to wear it everywhere? In a thermal structure or a medical spa, where treatments are available since early morning, you can also wear it during breakfast and lunch (but ask to be sure). Never during dinner.

A German wellness centre (photo by Hotel Der Oeschberghof)

And inside the wellness area? Every place has its own rules.

Water treatments and swimming pools: no problems here. You enter wearing swimsuit and rubber flick-flocks with your towel or your bathrobe. And the cap? Always advisable for hygienic reasons, often compulsory. It goes without saying that if you are on a first date, you may prefer to stay far from swimming pools and focus on relaxing areas.

If the swimming pool is open to kids, don’t expect too much quietness: unthinkable and not expectable. But the parents have to check over their little bandits: no diving, running, pushing or shouting. Otherwise it is in your right to complain.

Massages: in the cabin where the treatment is delivered you will find towels, hairbands, and unisex micro-slips one use only. Don’t stare and wear it, or yours will get dirty because of the oil used during the massage. Your choice if you want to wear the bikini or not.

Sauna: here the rules are a result of hygiene, common sense and safety, but are also strictly related to one’s own culture. If you are asking ‘what should I wear’ go the other way round and start asking ‘what do I take off?’. In fact, you should enter the sauna completely naked, with only a towel to sit or lay down. But how should we conciliate this nordic tradition with the prudish culture of the latin countries, where nakedness is rarely showed?

Often in these countries entrance in mixed saunas is only allowed wearing a swimsuit. What you should know is that the swimsuit’s synthetic material may release toxic chemical substances because of the high temperature. In a close environment, often crowded, where you are supposed to purify yourself, this is far less than ideal. Your most sensible body parts will perspire in a synthetic swimsuit for several hours. A good compromise? A natural fibre swimsuit.

Get rid of everything else: jewellery, glasses and… (do we really need to stress it?) mobile phones. Leave outside also your slippers. Do not use the same towel inside the sauna, but leave the one to dry yourself outside in the common areas.

Beside the dress code, the most important rule is to respect the silence. You will be in very close contact with people who wish to relax and have full right to avoid confusion, laughs and loud talks.

There are wellness centre where you can book a full are just for yourself, but those still are a privilege for few people.

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