Spa treatments are one of my greatest pleasures, but a lot of hotel spas are seriously expensive. If springing for the spa means I have to go to Chipotle for dinner instead of that hot new restaurant, I’ll create a do-it-yourself hotel spa experience instead. This is something I especially like to do if I’m traveling alone and know I’ll have some downtime in the evening, or if I’m staying in a really nice hotel room (or vacation rental) and I want to make sure I have time to actually enjoy the amenities. It might be worth a room upgrade to make sure you have a nice bathtub for a good spa-style soak.

Here are a few ideas for a do-it-yourself hotel spa experience:

Before you leave home, decide if you want to pack a few things for your spa day, or would you rather buy them when you get there? One thing you might want to pack is a facial mask.  Sheet masks are great for traveling because they don’t take up precious space in your 3-quart liquid baggie, and they are individually packed and won’t leak or spill in your luggage. Of course, you will look like Jason from Halloween, so that may be a consideration if you aren’t going to be alone. Nugg face masks are tiny, one-time use masks in several varieties. They are creams, so will have to go in your baggie if you carry them on. How about a nail file, pumice stone, hair elastic, and your favorite essential oil? Pack a pair of cotton socks (and if you want to go all out, cotton gloves).
Once in your hotel room, check out the amenities. Are the soaps, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, etc., up to snuff? Check out the coffee area — are there a couple of packets of real sugar (not Splenda)? If so, they will make a nice facial scrub. Take stock of what you have and what you need, and go to the local drugstore to get the rest:

  • a 4 – 5 pound bag of epsom salts for the bath.
  • (If the hotel has one of those tubs you’d rather not sit in, then buy a sugar or salt scrub for the shower.)
  • a few magazines or a good book
  • any of the above-mentioned products that you’re missing: a nice soap or bath gelrich body lotion, hair conditioner, etc. You can look in the travel-size section so you don’t have to buy too much.

If you’re doing this in the middle of the day, think about lunch. Order room service to arrive before you start, or buy a healthy spa-style lunch and a nice beverage, maybe a fresh juice, and put it in your hotel fridge until ready to eat. Choose a beverage for your bath, too — water, juice, champagne.

Here’s the routine for your do-it-yourself spa experience:

  • Pour the entire bag of epsom salts into the bathtub and fill the bath with warm water. Add essential oils if using. (If showering, take a nice hot, steamy shower and use the body scrub to remove dead skin cells. Put conditioner in your hair, but don’t rinse it out until you’re finished with all of your other spa activities.)
  • Remove makeup, and slather conditioner all over your hair, pulling it up to keep it out of your face if necessary.
  • Play some relaxing music, perhaps “Spa Radio” on Pandora.
  • Get your magazines and a beverage, and have everything you need for your bath nearby.
  • Enjoy a long, relaxing soak. The steam will open your pores and help activate the hair conditioner. The magnesium in the salts will ease away muscle aches and will help draw toxins out of your body. Soak for at least 20 minutes to get the benefits.
  • Toward the end of your bath, use the pumice stone to smooth away calluses on your feet.
  • After the bath, slather yourself with body lotion and put on the socks to keep feet moist. Hopefully you have a fluffy hotel robe to wrap yourself in, but if not use the towels.
  • Use the sugar packets to exfoliate your face, then apply your mask.
  • If using cotton gloves, slather lotion or a mask on your hands, and put on the gloves.
  • Relax and read your magazines until your heart is content. Enjoy your lunch or snack, and perhaps take a little cat nap.
  • Rinse off your mask and hair conditioner, and moisturize your face. You might even want to do a little yoga in your hotel room to top it all off!

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