pool at a spa and wellness hotel

What to pack for a spa weekend or day to enjoy your time fully

We went for a spa and wellness weekend with Michal! And, honestly, we haven’t been anywhere just the two of us that I had to think quite a lot about what to pack for a spa weekend, haha.

I’m so excited! It’s been way too long since we went anywhere for a night just the two of us.

The pool in the featured image is actually from the hotel that we stayed at! It was Hotel Diplomat in Rajecke Teplice, Slovakia.

Anyways, if you’re looking for some info about going on a spa break, you’re in the right place. Enjoy!

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What is the difference between a spa, thermal baths, and wellness?

First things first, as usual.

This article here explains the differences in-depth, but here they are in short.

All three of these establishments provide different kinds of relaxing procedures, and all three of them use water in one way or another. The main difference between them lies in the type of water used.

A spa offers water-based treatments, such as hydrotherapy, saunas, Turkish baths etc. Thermal waters can be used but aren’t necessary, but often the waters contain some kinds of minerals. Many times, the procedures provided are medicinal.

Thermal baths or thermal spa, as you probably can guess from the name, use thermal waters. That is, they use the hot waters that flow directly from the subsoil, their vapours, and the resulting mud for different treatments.

Wellness provides different kinds of treatments that are all for relaxation. There are massages, beauty treatments, aromatherapy, pools, saunas, and others. There can even be gyms.

Why did I suddenly mention thermal baths here? Well, because they are quite similar to spas, so I wanted to make sure we all know the difference.

In short, though, all of these services are for helping people relax in different ways.

For the sake of this article, I’ll be using spa and wellness to describe a place (centre) that has pools, saunas, massages, and other services.

What to pack for a spa and wellness day?

outside at a spa in Bormio, Italy
Sometimes it’s a good idea to have sunglasses with you as well. Here we were staying at a QC Terme Bagni Nuovi spa hotel in Bormio, Italy

So, straight into what to pack for a spa day. As you see, you don’t really need to pack a lot of stuff for a spa day.

Take some flip flops with you – you wouldn’t want to slip and fall by the pool, right? The floor there is – always! – wet and slippery.

Most spa and wellness centres (at least the ones we’ve been to) don’t provide towels for guests not staying in the attached hotel, so better take one with you. There are usually blow dryers, so one towel should be enough.

Usually, there are shampoos and shower gels available in the showers, but I wouldn’t count on it – better pack some small travel bottles with you. I use a refillable travel-size container and just fill it up with our own shampoo and shower gel.

Bikini or a swimsuit, obviously. Especially if you’re not comfortable with having your massage naked – the specialist might allow you to stay in the bikini. I personally prefer to have a one-piece swimsuit in the pool to avoid unnecessary, emm, problems.

It’s better to have your hair out of the way during whatever relaxation procedures you’re having, so don’t forget to pack your hairbrush and hair tie with you. Maybe even a headband.

If you like having your makeup on at all times, it’s a good idea to pack it with you for a spa day. That way, you can reapply it after the procedures are done.

Things to help you relax, such as a Kindle (better than a book, since it’s waterproof and smaller) or a magazine, will help you enjoy your time in the, well, relaxation area.

If you like taking more things with you to the pool, such as paper napkins, water, glasses, etc., it’s a good idea to have a bag where to put them.

What to pack for a spa weekend if you’re staying in a spa and wellness hotel

bagni vecchi in Bormio, Italy
Michal in the Bagni Vecchi spa in Bormio, Italy.

As for what to pack for a spa weekend, the list is actually pretty similar to any other trip or weekend getaway.

You can check out all the travel essentials in our article. But essentially, it’s your IDs, wallet, phone and chargers, cosmetics, clothes, and a first aid kit. You wouldn’t want to have a migraine right in the middle of a romantic weekend, right?

Flip flops or similar slippers are very useful when walking around the wellness. Generally, they are requested actually. The hotels often provide slippers, but those are made of fabric – much less pleasant to wear.

A bikini or a swimsuit is self-explanatory, right? Anyways, although you might not be required to wear it for a spa procedure, it is needed when going to a pool.

If you plan to go to a restaurant for a dinner or to a bar, or even an afternoon tea, you probably need some kind of an outfit with you as well. We mostly go to restaurants that allow jeans and a sweater, but if you plan to check out a fancier place, make sure that they don’t have a dress code. Or pack accordingly.

As a precaution, I tend to pack small towels with me when packing for a spa weekend. Travel towels take up little space, so it’s not really a problem. But if the towels provided by the wellness are not good – or if there are no altogether – at least we don’t have to use the bathroom ones.

Then, of course, don’t forget to pack your favourite relaxing items, like a kindle or a book, and a bag in which to carry them to the wellness!

We added a bottle of wine and some snacks to our “what to pack for a spa weekend” list, haha. It was nice to enjoy them on our balcony!

Tips for creating your own packing list for a spa and wellness weekend

It’s, of course, nice to have someone tell you what to pack for a spa weekend, but as you might guess, each person is different.

That’s why these tips might help you figure out that you might need some extra stuff. Or maybe you might not need to take some of the things I mentioned in my packing list.

What to wear to a spa and wellness centre?

For arriving at the centre itself, you can just wear any clothing that you find comfortable. For me, it’s usually jeans and some sweater if we’re going when the weather is colder, and a dress or shorts+t-shirt when the weather is warmer.

There’s usually a changing room with lockers where you can leave your things, such as clothes, wallet, etc. Honestly, I haven’t been to a wellness centre which doesn’t have a locker room.

If you’re staying in a hotel that has a spa and wellness centre, you can just straight up come in your robe, already dressed. Leave your room key in the lockers and enjoy!

What do you wear under a robe at a spa and wellness?

Generally, a bikini or a swimsuit is an accepted attire for a spa and wellness centre, so that’s what you leave under the robe.

Some places occasionally have a no swimsuit policy, but that is rare in Europe. In Japan, though, onsen (local thermal baths) don’t allow swimsuits, so you’re going there all naked.

In some instances, that is, for some massages and treatments, you might have to be naked, though. To make sure, you can ask the receptionist to make sure that a bikini is allowed. Otherwise, the specialist himself will tell you to undress.

How to wear your hair for a spa day?

outside in a pool in a spa in Bormio with a mountain in the background
You can see the relaxation area in the building to the right of us. There was a fireplace and tea there.

If you have long hair, it’s a good idea to wear it in an updo, such as a ponytail. Unless, of course, you’re going for a head massage – in that case, the specialist might ask you to untie the hair.

In most other cases, loose hair will be in the way.

You can even choose to wear a headband to make sure that no hair goes where it shouldn’t go.

Do you wear makeup to a spa and wellness?

relaxing on chairs in the spa
It was supposed to be a waterproof mascara.

It’s completely optional, but I usually opt for no makeup.

There’s a lot of humidity and water in the spa and wellness centres, so unless your makeup is extremely waterproof, you’re gonna end up with it all over the place.

For the spa procedures, even if you’re going to have a facial, the aesthetician will usually do an oil cleanse which will remove makeup as well.

If you’re just having a massage, though, there’s a high chance that your makeup will end up on that face hole in the massage table.

Do spas provide towels?

It really depends on the place. Most spa and wellness centres that we’ve been to actually don’t provide towels – unless you’re staying in a hotel which has the centre.

Most of the wellness centres provide sheets to use in the saunas so that the seats remain cleaner.

By the way, be aware that you might be required to be naked when going to the saunas. Not all spas require that, but many do.

Those sheets really are just small sheets – they are not really a substitute for a towel.

park near a spa hotel
Lovely park for a relaxing walk after a spa day – near Spa Hotel Aphrodite

What to pack for a spa weekend or day – last thoughts

Spa days really are amazing. Both spa and wellness, to be honest – for example, on the second day of our spa break we just relaxed in the pool.

When thinking about what to pack for a spa weekend, though – no need to overthink it! As you can see, the list is not that much different from a “normal” packing list.

Did you find these packing tips useful? What else would you pack with you? Let me know!


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