A Guide to Tipping in Spas

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You loved your spa treatment. Now what? Are you supposed to tip the therapist, or is it already included? As in so much of life, it all depends on the specific situation. To ensure you have a relaxing time before, during, and after the treatment, understand the best practices around providing a gratuity based on the variety of different types of spas. 

General Tipping Guidelines

At most day spas, it's appropriate to tip 15-20 percent of the bill. So when you have a $100 massage, tip $15 if the service was average, and $20 or more if the therapist provided outstanding service. 

Some day spas add a service fee, but most do not. You can either offer the tip directly to the therapist in cash—which is always appreciated—or add it to your bill. A few spas leave envelopes in the room to encourage tipping. 

Sometimes the 15-20 percent guideline doesn't work. If you're getting a bargain price, like $60 from a chain like Massage Envy, you should still tip $15 or $20, especially if you like the therapist. If you're getting a promotional rate like $50 during Spa Week, tip on the full value of the service. If you are using a coupon code, or another discount option, the gratuity should be based on the actual retail value of the service and not the reduced rate.

Resort and Hotel Spas

Most spas where you spend the night, including resort spas, hotel, and destination, or health spas, add a spa tip or "service fee" of 18-20 percent onto the massage or facial. If you think you received exceptional service, you can give the therapist additional money in the treatment room.

If you offer the therapist money and a tip is already being added to your bill, the therapist should inform you before accepting the tip. If you didn't know that was the policy, feel free to keep your cash tip.

Mineral Springs Spas

These types of spas are the origin of the modern resort—initially, those seeking tranquility and relief from physical pain would travel to locations that offered natural mineral baths.

There are several still in business within the United States, such as The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, and The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Many of mineral spring spas offer special techniques geared towards utilizing the uniqueness of the baths, like hydrotherapy treatments.

Patrons should plan to tip the standard 15-20 percent for massage and other spa services at these locales.

Medical Spas

Some spas, especially medical spas that offer a hybrid of traditional therapies and medical procedures like Botox injections, don't allow tipping. 

However, this is starting to soften, especially for services like facials. Typically, the policy for tipping (whether or not it is an acceptable practice) will be posted near the reception or listed on the menu of services offered. If you are unsure, the best option is to ask at the front desk before the procedure. 

If you go to the same therapist regularly, it's nice to do a little something around the holiday season to show your appreciation for their work year-round.

Club Spas

These are spas located inside a fitness club or gym. While these locations are primarily focused on working out, they do offer spa services like sports massages and foot massages and are open to non-members. At these locations, it's appropriate to tip 15-20 percent of the bill for treatments.

Leaving No Gratuity

There really needs to be gross negligence such as rudeness or sexual advances on the part of the therapist to not tip at all. If there is any inappropriate behavior during the session, inform staff at the front desk so management can take care of it—and you shouldn't be required to pay for the service. (If the person is doing their best, but you just don't like their style, go ahead and tip. Just don't book with them again.)

Private Practices

Therapists who have a private practice get to keep the whole amount of the service. Tipping is not expected, but it is still very much appreciated. You can also take into account how much the therapist is charging. If they're charging a relatively low rate like $70, you might tip. If they're charging $100 or $120, that is already a good fee.

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