Most extraordinary spa and massage

by Virginia Frederick-Dodge

This story is part of our 'Funny Spa Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Hotel Montecatini Terme.


Back in the 90s, I was travelling through Italy. One thing I started to do in my travels was to find a spa and get a massage in every country I visited. To my delight, we over-nighted in Montecatini, the spa capital of Italy! As the rest of my group headed to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I had the concierge make me an appointment at the best spa in town.

As I taxied up to the building I thought, “This can’t be right.” It was a cement rectangle, not the beautiful villa I had envisioned. Nonetheless, I entered the bomb-shelter-esque structure. Inside was sterile - more like a hospital than any spa I’d ever seen. As I contemplated turning on my heels and heading for the Tuscan hills, a woman in a nurse’s uniform greeted me. She whisked me through intricate corridors, where I never saw another soul. I was beginning to think the hotel concierge misunderstood me and I was at an insane asylum, not a spa!

Finally, we came to a room with a tub full of water. She briskly started to undress me! What?! Then she nudged me toward the tub. The water was freezing! When she left, the door stayed wide open into the corridor. As my luck was running, a gaggle of people would surely come by my door at any moment to see me naked and freezing in this tub! Relaxing? Definitely not!

Following what felt like hours, she came back, yanked me out of the tub and proceeded to dry me with a big fluffy towel. Surely the luxurious spa part was coming up! She then took naked me into an adjoining room with a massage table. Rather than stand there in the nude, I jumped on the table and under the sheet just as a man came into the room. Thank goodness I was under the covers! My "masseur" whipped the sheet off and literally started attacking my body with a scrub brush, the bristles ripping at my skin. I can’t write what I was thinking! Next had to be the soothing oil and relaxing massage part! Well no - next came a giant container of powder which he dusted, well dumped, all over my body. By now my brain was numb and there was no figuring this spa out! From there he started to vigorously rub and “massage” the powder all over my body. Powder flew everywhere and I sneezed... and sneezed... and sneezed.

After my "massage," he abruptly left and was replaced by my escort carrying my clothes. I dressed and was guided back to the lobby to pay. Yes, I had to pay for this - and it wasn’t cheap! When I returned to the hotel, my group was back and anxious to hear about my wonderful spa experience. They all thought it was a hoot, but I wasn’t laughing as I sat on my sore bum all scraped-up from the brushing, I mean the massage, I got! Errr!

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