Why Guys Should Go to the Spa, as Explained by a Spa Connoisseur

There's nothing mysterious or embarrassing about spa sessions, just an opportunity to unwind without the burden of a hangover.

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It’s silly that certain grooming practices—manicures, face masks and waxing—are considered too female for men to try, isn’t it? So let’s learn from the men who’ve never had any shame in trying something a little different. First up? Spa days.

The Man in Question: Mark Smith, a London-based writer and media consultant

His Interest: Spas

Frequency of Spa Visits: Just about once a week

What He Spends on Average: £50-£100, not including 15 percent tip (bare minimum)

His First Time: “It was back in 2008 for work. Before that, I was always scared of the spa—I thought it was just a place for posh people, which I now think is totally ridiculous. It is, without a doubt, the best way to reduce stress and soothe aches and pains in my muscles I get from working at a desk all day. My doctor is always impressed with my blood pressure readings; I credit that to the regular massage.”

But What About All of That Nudity?: “I actually thought you’d have to be naked in the treatment room before I started going to spas—which isn’t the case. In most places, you retain either your swimming trunks or underpants or are given something called “spa underwear” to wear. Plus, the therapists are adept at protecting your modesty. That said, head to a sauna in Germany and a few other parts of Europe, and it’s quite normal to be nude. Either way, I’m fairly relaxed about my body—we all have one.”

Most Memorable Spa Experience: “I had an amazing Zhenglio treatment in Mauritius. It involved a massage, cupping and hot smoking moxxa layered on my body. I had an out of body experience—I thought I was floating on the ceiling, then I started to blubber like a baby.”

This One Time in Russia…: “I had a treatment in a hot, hot sauna where I was beaten with birch sticks.”

The Treatment That Stands Above All the Rest: “I absolutely love having a traditional hammam. The steam at the beginning opens the pores and relaxes the muscles. This is followed by a vigorous scrub from head to toe, and then lots of cleansing of the body with warm water. You feel so smooth and clean afterwards and totally relaxed.”

What Exactly Comes Off Your Body When You’re Scrubbed Head to Toe?: “Dead skin, mostly. And the occasional hair.”

Least Favourite Aspect of Spa Culture: “I find that a lot of therapists can be a bit patronising, especially with male guests. This doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it really winds me up.”

The Male Spa Day Is Becoming A Thing, However: “There are treatment menus designed specifically for guys. The most recent trend I’ve seen are spas that have barber shops on the spa menu. I first saw this in Frankfurt, Germany, then in London, and now it’s becoming a worldwide phenomenon.”

How to Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into: “Always check what facilities a spa has. Just because it’s called a spa doesn’t mean it has a pool, jacuzzi or sauna. And there’s no legal definition of what a spa is or what it should have, so it’s worth checking in advance. Also, check what’s included. If you book a half-day spa package, see if lunch and a drink comes with it. Same for which treatments it covers.

“Most of all, keep in mind that spas offer much more than relaxing body treatments. Spa facilities can include sauna, steam, hydrotherapy pools and lots of relaxation spaces that can occupy your time for half a day or more. Take a swim in the pool, workout in the fitness centre and eat some lunch. There are grooming treatments available, too: manicures, facials and fine-tuning—like brow tidying and anti-ageing eye treatments—all of which help keep guys looking their very best.”

At-Tagging Etiquette: “Pedicures and manicures are okay to share, but try to leave the camera phone in the locker room when you’re having a body treatment or facial.”

Still Not Convinced…: “Book a spa weekend with your partner as well as a couple’s treatment where you’ll both be in the same room together. It’s the most relaxing, indulgent thing you can do, and you’ll want to go back again and again. Most of all, remember that there’s nothing mysterious behind the treatment door.”