The Complete Spa Tipping Guide

Woman Receiving Tibetan Massage at Sunset
••• Many resort spas already include the tip. Matthew Wakem / Getty Images

You loved your spa treatment.  Now what?  Are you supposed to tip the therapist, or is it already included?  It all depends on the type of spa, so here's a guide to help you sort out the ins and outs of spa tipping.

At most day spas, it's appropriate to tip 15-20%.  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 -- always appreciated -- or add it to your bill. A few spas leave envelopes in the room to encourage tipping.  

Sometimes the 15-20% 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.  And If you're getting a promotional rate like $50 during Spa Week, you should tip on the full value of the service.

There are a few exceptions to the spa tipping 15-20% guideline. Some spas, especially medical spas, don't allow tipping.  However, this is starting to soften, especially for services like facials.

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

Tipping At 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% onto the massage or facial, so you don't have to worry about it.

However, 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.

Should You Ever Not Tip?

There really needs to be gross negligence such as rudeness or sexual advances on the part of the therapist to not tip at all at. In fact, you shouldn't pay at all if there is inappropriate behavior. You do need to let them know at the front desk what happened, so management can take care of it.

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.

If the therapist has a private practice, they 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 $60 or $65, you might tip. If they're charging $100 or $120, that is already a good fee.