My Spa Day at La Perla in San Sebastian, Spain (+ the naked truth)

Heather Lindstrom La Perla Spain for Stylemindchic Lifestyle
San Sebastian, Spain

Spa Day in Spain

For months I’ve meant to share the story of my spa day in Spain. With over two weeks of travel, through Portugal and Spain, under our belts, spa time was needed to work out the kinks, and soften the edges. The La Perla Spa was located just a few steps down the promenade from our Hotel Niza, in San Sebastian. I had seen the glowing locals leave the spa, as they paraded down the promenade, and thought that would be the perfect way to spend my birthday. When we stopped in to make our reservation, Scott and I looked over the menu with assistance from two beautiful, Spanish women, in stylish black uniforms. They were professional, enthusiastic and glowing. It was one of those “I’ll have what she’s having” kind of moments. After some consideration, we selected the seaweed scrub and mud wrap special, based on their recommendations.

Heather Lindstrom La Perla Spa Spain

I’ve had a number of massages, many while traveling abroad, but I’ve never booked a scrub and a mud wrap. Somehow the process seemed a little too intimate, with all the scrubbing and wrapping. Do they scrub and wrap ALL the parts? In the luxurious comfort of the La Perla Spa spa concierge desk, I threw caution to the wind. In my mind, I had the impression that these two lovely, professional women would be performing my treatments. THAT was where my logic went wrong!

La Perla Spa San Sebastian Spain

Following a light birthday breakfast at Hotel Niza, Scott and I made the short walk down the boardwalk to the spa. I love those moments of feeling like a local, and we were feeling it. Following our check-in, changes into comfy terry robes, we waited in the spa lounge sipping on citrus-cucumber water. This is the life! Suddenly, two young men entered the lounge. They were dressed in tight white t-shirts, tight white jeans (leggings?) and…get this…they were wearing plastic gloves. One was snapping the wristband, “Ready??”…snap, snap….I looked at my husband, in horror, and whispered, “Oh Sugar (or something like that)! I forgot to say I didn’t want a man”…Snap, snap! Scott later describes these young gentlemen as the “lumberjack and the waiter”. I considered my two options: running up those spa stairs to safety or putting on (taking off) my ‘big girl’ pants. In the end, the birthday girl decided to grin and bare it. After all, it was already paid for!

La Perla Spa San Sebastian Spain

As the “waiter” stepped closer and said my name, I nodded. My cheeks were already burning. He led me to a private spa room where I noticed a shower, table, hoses, a vat of ‘mud’ but, unfortunately, a surprising lack of any sheets or towels. In America, and luxury resorts abroad, towels and sheets, are abundant. I especially appreciate those privacy sheets, designed to protect the eyes of your spa therapist, and your dignity. You know the ones? I didn’t spot a single one. As my “waiter” handed me the teeniest, tiniest, paper string bikini bottom, I would have paid big money for a privacy towel about then. He pantomimed that I should take off all my clothes and get on the table on my stomach. I realized his English was sparse and wondered if that was a good or bad thing. The inner dialogue in my head was deafening, “He’s young enough to be my son,” “Poor kid, I hope this doesn’t burn his eyes!” “Did I shave under my arms?” and “Maybe it’s a scrub for the backside only, not the front?”.  I was wracking my brain to remember how much of the body they actually cover with a scrub and mud wrap. Clearly, he had given me no top to wear.

As I changed into my dental floss bikini bottom and laid face first on the table I felt very vulnerable. The European idea of nudity seems to be completely different than in the United States. I wondered why I felt so vulnerable, while some of the Europeans paraded confidently, and openly, around the pools, locker room, and beaches.

La Concha Beach San Sebastian Spain
The La Perla Spa on the beach, San Sebastian, Spain

I am no prude. I had my dalliances with tiny bikinis back in the day, skinny dipping, a French clothing optional beach on St. Martin, what have you. The idea of almost complete nudity, alone with a young Spanish man, covering my body with seaweed scrub and mud, was not on my radar for my birthday. Now that I think of it, what a decadent gift from my husband, right? LOL!  My burning question, and pardon me but it’s the truth, do they put mud on your boobs? There, I said it!

Back to that table, and the naked truth of my spa day in Spain. Turns out my “waiter” was adept at applying scrub all over my backside. The toughest moment was when he pantomimed for me to roll over on my back….ugh!! If I could have communicated in Spanish I might have said, “Just the backside is fine.”  Why was this so hard? If I had been 30 how would I have felt? It’s a good thing he didn’t speak English, because the stream of quips and jokes coming from my mouth, to break the tension, would have been endless. Instead, I steeled myself, and kept quiet, as I rolled over. Hello, glory!  All the scrubbing, and eventually mud application, continued on the front side. In the end, I was relieved when he directed me to rinse my body off in the shower, alone. I’m happy to report that the boobs were left untouched…

Still, poor guy!

San Sebastian Spain from Hotel Niza sea view

I remembered a moment, during our trip to St. Martin, when I saw this difference firsthand. Scott and I took a day trip to the island of St. Barth’s on the ferry. We chatted it up with several German and American couples on the way. As we neared the island, the German women, still chatting, pulled their tops off and stowed them in their bags. The American men, including my husband, were suddenly speechless….. imagine! The topless women just kept on chatting. It was comical! I admired their confidence and non-nonchalance. They are just boobs after all. Maybe we treat them a bit too ‘preciously’, with all the nip-slips and such, here in America. It’s definitely a cultural difference that intrigues me when traveling.

Men on the beach in San Sebastian Spain

 These gentlemen at the beach, next door to La Perla Spa, have no problem letting it all hang out.

Guard my life in San Sebastian

A final “I’ll have what she’s having” moment.

Wait, is that my “waiter” moonlighting as a lifeguard?

Stylemindchic Lifestyle LogoMy spa day in Spain….revealing!

Is it just me? How would you feel about all that ‘naked truth’ at the spa?

To my European friends, any advice for getting through those revealing moments?


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Heather Lindstrom

Spa Day in Spain

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This was absolutely hilarious. I would have had the exact same thoughts had I been in your position. Do as the Europeans do, right?!! Loved the commentary…

ooops, I meant massage (typing too fast).
Great story, Heather.

Heather, hahaha, Yes Spanish people are passionate, beautiful people who love their bodies because they really are full of LOVE. I wish I was a fly on the wall watching the expression on your face when a male messager came in, but I think you handled it well. Trust me, it didn’t embarrass them as much as it did you, and they probably thought you were such a trooper. I know what you mean cause I would have been embarrassed too, but it’s so great that you embraced their culture and let them be who they are. I really think they are one of the most beautiful people in the world. While you were telling the story, I envisioned this lovely blonde girl getting her birthday message and having a great story to tell later. :~)

love, ~Sheri

You always have a sweet, positive spin on life, Sheri. Thank you! I so agree. We were enamored with the beauty of the women and men in Spain. At this stage in life, I figured I just had to go for it. I know you would have too! Love hearing your perspective!

When I visited Chelsea in Amman, we went to a spa where we got scrubbed, rubbed and oiled, on large cement slabs, totally nude. There they have days for men and days for women, and all of the workers on our day were women. The worst part was how hard they scrubbed, and the boobs were a part of all of it. The boob massage was great! I just think I lost a layer of skin. Overall, It was also much more reasonable than anything in the US. It can be a weekly habit there, and no broken bank!

Wow!! Wow on so many levels, Tara. What an experience to have with your daughter. I do like the idea of days for men and days for women-since it was all totally nude. You are brave-but I’ve always known that…;) Fun to have you stop by!

hahaha Heather, I loved this story and can only imagine that feeling when you entered the spa looking forward to a relaxing treatment and then it all changed in seconds, but how could you in that situation when you had no idea it would be a young Spanish guy doing the treatment?

About the nudity in Europe, I can definitely relate to the feeling of ‘I wish I could do that’ when I see all the women on the beaches in Spain running around topless in tiny bottoms, but I just couldn’t imagine. There is such a difference in Europe compared to the US about nudity and I think in one sense there is a lot better self-acceptance and body image here, not saying that one is better than the other. Thanks for sharing your tale! :)


Now that you have experience living in both the US and Europe, Dale, I knew you would have an interesting perspective. I agree, neither is better but there is such a profound cultural difference that it always amazes me. Do you get to watch the Oscars live?
Happy Sunday! xx

I am very much a Southern lady and would just not be there! I am fine alone in a spa room and a technician…not with others. No thank you!

You are so right, Pam! It’s definitely more for the adventurous nature girl than the Southern Lady, like yourself! Perhaps a nice facial in the European spa for you? Enjoy your weekend! xx

OMG Heather. That’s a hilarious story!! I would have felt the same way you did. Once you’re there and naked, there is no backing out:). I love reading about your travels. You do have the most amazing adventures my friend.
Happy Weekend to you!!
xo Jennifer

No ‘backsiding’ out at all, Jen. See, I have awkward humor under pressure! ;) Yes, you and I would have handled it the same way. At some point it’s simply, go big or ‘go home’. ;) Happy Weekend!

Heather I can just picture (your face that is) as the gentlemen walked in for your spa day! I have been to nude and topless beaches in my travels although I was much younger! If a woman had been my attendant I probably would not have been bothered at all. I hope you can look back and laugh with your husband about this bodiful experience!

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Thanks for just picturing my face, Karena! It was definitely bright red :). We do laugh about it now…and a nice pitcher of sangria over a birthday lunch helped calm the nerves. xx

OMG Heather! This was too funny! I could feel your shock and fear having this scrub done by a male. You are more brave and bold than I am, for sure. Having overcome your fear is quite empowering. And there is something to be said about those gorgeous Spanish men!
Enjoy your weekend and the Oscars! xx Karen

It was so shocking, and then funny, I had to share…what a birthday surprise, right? ;) Enjoy this beautiful weekend and I’ll definitely be watching! xx

Travel at its best! Wow! Too funny! I would have felt the same way! Interesting topic…the differences between American and European body self-consciousness. Thanks for sharing!

It’s one of those cultural differences that is so interesting. In the end, I’m glad I was brave enough to stick with it. My skin felt very soft after my treatment. I think the ‘glow’ was from all the blushing! ;)

OH my god I would have died!! You are too funny!! I bet your butt looks marvelous now ..Thanks to the Latin Gentleman! xo K

Haha! It was quite the experience, for sure…I’m glad you get my humor! :)

Hello there Heather! WOW, do you travel, I mean – HOW DO YOU DO IT? We are just excited that we’re finally getting out to Carmel after not going back for 33 years! How wonderful that you enjoy all that you can. And I remember seeing the topless bathers in Nice, France…older people who were extremely TONED! WOW! You look lovely sweet friend! Anita

I am soooo excited for you, Anita! When do you leave for Carmel? The weather is absolutely beautiful and warmer than usual right now in California. I hope your trip is soon. If you have a chance plan to dine at Casanova, one of my favorites! Bon Voyage darling friend! xx

OMG this was hilarious! I am terribly jealous ; ) I would have paid big bucks to have two tight young men rubbing my body all over.

The best massage I’ve ever had was by a young man in Banff Alberta at the famous Banff Springs Hotel. I was nude. He was brilliant. The best butt massage EVER! LOL That was my first massage by a man and the best by far. Everything else has paled in comparison. I often get lower back/butt pain and once my husband and I went in for a couples massage. The woman he got was quite old and the guy I got was very young. It was awkward because we were in the same room. I kept telling the guy to massage my butt, but (ha ha) he was too nervous to do it and barely touched it. Total waste of cash. My husband’s masseuse on the other hand was very strong and good.

We also had a body scrub and couple’s massage when we were in the Bahamas. They made us put on what looked like a diaper! LOL We were killing ourselves laughing. The scrub was great though. We both had lots of sandfly bites and it was pleasure and pain for the whole scrub.

I always go with the idea that they are like Drs. They’ve seen it all before.


I bet you would have! So funny! You are more bold than me, girlfriend. The diaper thing would definitely get rid of any discomfort, with all the out right laughing. I do love a scrub now!
Happy weekend!

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