Worst spa treatment … Too British to Complain?

Worst spa treatment … Too British to Complain?


This post started of being called ” What to do if you are having a bad spa treatment – how do you complain?”.  I quickly then found my inner vent coming out and it became all about my worst spa treatment ever! We have all been there, you are in a restaurant and the food is quite frankly terrible. There are two choices – firstly complain/mention it to the staff or secondly do nothing …. well apart from complain to those who are sat with you. You might even vow never to return. We Brits have a bit of a reputation of not complaining about things and most certainly not to people’s faces. Whether it be bad service, noisy neighbours, bad haircuts or bad food, why do we find it easier to leave or complain online rather than bring an issue to a venue’s attention.

I have a friend that would rather leave a restaurant and even pay for food that was poor quality instead of telling the waiting staff. There have even been a couple of times that she has asked me to do it for her. Personally, I would rather say if my food was cold, if my online shopping was delivered late or if there was a problem with my hotel room. I would rather give the establishment or other person a chance to rectify the situation. On most occasions I end up happy with the outcome.  I would certainly not be happy to pay for something that was not what it was meant to be.

If you are lucky,  when you complain you will get a member of staff who cares about their work and will be mortified at bad service. If you are unlucky, you will get someone who is “bothered”.  Last year, we complained in a luxury hotel after finding blood stains and questionable yellow marks halfway down our room’s bed sheets. The delightful “bothered” member of staff came to check out said stains and could not understand why we wanted to move room. He then told us how difficult it would be to move us. We stood our ground and explained that his suggestion of only a clean base sheet would not really suffice. All manner of awkward and annoyance on our part.


What do you if your Spa treatment is bad! How do you complain?

I have pretty much always felt comfortable to say when things are not right. Well, I thought I was. Last month, I found myself experiencing a spa treatment that was …. fricking awful. Let me explain, it all started when my bare feet walked across the floor to my treatment table …. over the remnants of the previous guest’s sugar scrub. Gross and spikey! As I sat down to wipe said scrub off my feet I steadied my hand on the treatment table ….. only to feel something crusty on the bed cover. The massage table was manky in a couple of places.

When my therapist came into the room I highlighted this dried up product on the table and the scrub on the floor to her. I tried to work out if my therapist did not understand or was “bothered”.  She smiled at me, said “ok thanks” and started my treatment. I had tried to complain, but was now half naked and felt a little less confident. If I had  been at a restaurant I would have pushed for a cleaner table!

It seemed this was to be an indication of our chat over the next 90 minutes. I am a bit of a chatty person  and love to hear what spa therapists think of the brand or the treatment they are about to do.  Most of my questions were greeted by very short closed answers. My therapist did not come across like she was comfortable with chatting and worse was not really interested in the treatment or the brand. I eventually gave up trying to talk and we sat in a weird awkward silence.  Well, silence apart from the loud ticking on her watch and the noise from outside the room.

Was it really the worst spa treatment?

What was one of the worst bits about this treatment? This treatment is one that I have had several times before and utterly loved.  I left my previous treatments feeling exquisite. This is a soothing, gentle, sleep inducing, zen like and cosseting treatment.  In fact this treatment is meant to be everything that you could want from a spa trip. This time I found myself wanting to get up and leave 20 minutes into the 90 minute spa treatment.  During the back massage part I was so uncomfortable that after several times of asking her to stop so I could adjust my position, I wanted the treatment over.

Perhaps it was the gel cushion under my face that was making me feel uncomfortable? When I tried to explain that the face cushion was pushing up into my neck at the front, my therapist said “ok”. Eh …. no …. this was not ok. I felt a little bit strangled.  For the first time in a spa treatment I just wanted to leave. I could not bear to spend the whole treatment time like this. Eventually I asked to switch over to the facial part as I hoped it would feel nicer. Yes, I mean, who has ever had a facial that is not enjoyable. During the facial part of this treatment, my therapist used so little product that I think I felt her finger prints as they squeaked over my skin.

When is a good time to leave a spa treatment?

I hated it. I tried to meditate my way out of the situation but found myself getting distracted. If it wasn’t by hearing slamming doors in the corridor, it was by other guests talking to their therapist in the room next door. It did however amuse me when the music from the gym started playing over the sound system.  Come on, who does love a bit of 80’s nightclub music in the middle of a facial? At that point I found myself nervously laughing.

Are you getting my gist?  It did not stop there. This was the light relief in a what was becoming a spa treatment from hell. The towels on the bed were scratchy and did not cover the whole bed. The towel over the top of me was so short that it barely reached my ankles …. toes peeking out the bottom of a towel feels cold and really weird when you are trying to relax.

I spent most of the treatment wanting to leave. Wondering what time it was and why did treatment rooms not have a clock to help me work this out. At one point I though of asking my therapist the time as I could hear her watch clicking away louder than a Grandfather Clock! For the first time ever, I felt like I could not complain. I did not know how to tell the therapist to her face how awful her treatment felt. When I left the treatment room, I could not even think how to tell the manager. My chatty self had no words. I was paying with a gift voucher and wondered what I would have done if I was paying with my own cash. Yes this was not a cheap “luxury” treatment by any stretch of the imagination.

How to stop a spa treatment?

It is one thing to say you are unsatisfied with the level of service in a restaurant or hotel.  But, what would you do when you are basically naked, face down on a treatment table and having the worst spa treatment. It is not quite so simple to up and leave. First you have to ask the therapist to stop. Then you have to explain to their face why you want them to stop. Oh …. and then you have to dress, walk over the sugar scrub on the floor, walk to reception and explain it all again!! I just wanted the spa visit to end. Later on I knew I could bring this up with the manager once the words came back to describe it.

I have been super lucky to visit a number of excellent spas and experience some wonderful treatments. Spas are a place that you go to relax and leave feeling brand new and re-invigorated. That is why I am happy to pay money for such treatments. As I left the spa above, I was feeling anything but those qualities.

How do you complain?

I would love to hear from you. Have you ever had a duff spa treatment? What did you do? Did you complain? Do you feel comfortable complaining about bad service? Is it easier complain in some situations?

Until next time dear reader.

Bye Bye




  1. Spa Manager
    January 21, 2017 / 8:49 pm


    As a spa manager reading this post.. I’m cringing to say the least. Thinking to myself Omg if this was my spa. It’s so important that if you don’t have the confidence to say something while your there that you email the manager and let them know. If we as spa managers could come in the room to check that our therapists are performing correctly we would. 🙂

    Complaining has become second nature to most people. Unfortunately people like you who we need your feedback and honesty from we dont always know about.

    I am mortified to hear about your treatment and hope that you never have to experience that again.

    • Fifi Friendly
      January 23, 2017 / 9:43 am

      Hello lovely. I do cringe reading it back too. I did reach out to the spa venue to highlight a couple of concerns. I did not feel it could be left unsaid. I like you believe that giving feedback is important….. positive and negative. In fact I often go out of my way to give positive feedback to places that I have loved. Have a great week.

      • Spa Manager
        January 24, 2017 / 1:16 am

        I hope you can come to my spa soon to make up for the bad 🙂

        • Fifi Friendly
          January 24, 2017 / 10:16 am

          Snap. I would love to hear more. ff