Shipping to
United States
Illustrations by Mr Angelo Trofa

"When the woman in your life tells you she wants to spend a weekend in the country, bear in mind that most country-house hotels now come with spas attached. She's likely to believe that a trip to the spa is one of the weekend's vital components and it behoves a modern man to join in, even if he would rather, in truth, head for the bar in search of televised sport and a bottle of red wine. If spas are unfamiliar territory this guide will help you give the impression that you're sufficiently sophisticated to be entirely at ease.

No, no, no. It's not that kind of massage. Who do you think you are, an ex-head of the International Monetary Fund?

You need to remove your trousers and your shirt. However, unless there's a very good reason to believe otherwise, your underwear stays on.

If you want a rigorous sports massage then say so, to avoid being given nothing tougher than a back rub. Whatever it is you want, be clear - many spa treatments promise nothing more tangible than a sense of wellbeing.

If in doubt, ask. MR PORTER has a friend who, while staying at an Aman resort, spent a lot of money on a massage to relieve the aches brought on by a week's skiing. He went for a reiki massage, but discovered too late that it was non-touching - the masseuse merely passed her hands over his body.

Will there be a pool? Or a sauna? Who knows, but it's always worth packing a pair of swimming shorts just in case.

And what to wear while doing it...