Nudity in a Common Area of a Hotel Property: Offensive or Not?

“T he piece I would like to understand is the allowed nudity. I realize some folks might feel like entering a sauna with a towel only. However what is the hotel’s role in providing enough information to its guests about this. Furthermore, this nudity was both male and female, while children were present. All it said on the door to the entire Saunas, showers, infrared, steam area door was that children under 12 are not allowed unsupervised. There was no suggestion that full nudity is to be expected in the entire area. There were folks walking around (not sure the health benefit of that) fully nude, between the different spa rooms/devices. Showering fully nude, laying in the salt room fully nude, with legs spread (I know it sounds like a joke but to have your 77 year old in-laws with it wasn’t comfortable at all).”

Nudity in a Common Area of a Hotel Property: Offensive or Not?

FlyerTalk member Mrtravel28 expressed disappointed that no one from the Starwood Preferred Guest frequent guest loyalty program would address this issue at all. “I don’t want to take anyone’s freedoms away, but there is common decency and what I saw was beyond that.”

The Sheraton Fuschlsee-Salzburg Hotel Jagdhof hotel property in Austria is where the nudity occurred — although nudity in the common area of the hotel is supposedly not permitted…

…but is this an issue?

What is Wrong With Nudity, Anyway?

First, the fact is that nudity is considered acceptable in certain places and by some cultures…

…so why is nudity against the law in many places — and why are many people uncomfortable with the concept?

Numerous sources suggest that religion is the main foundation for the indoctrination of nudity being offensive — especially in American culture; although there are signs that that may be weakening in some areas.

“It’s difficult to say why nudity makes us so uneasy, but it’s clear that our aversion to nakedness is longstanding and probably religious in nature”, according to this article written by Brian Palmer of Slate. “When upholding anti-indecency laws, several judges have pointed to the Bible. In 1877, for example, the Indiana Supreme Court noted that ‘the first exercise of mechanical ingenuity was in the manufacture of fig-leaf aprons by Adam and Eve, by which to conceal from the public gaze of each other their, now, but not then, called, privates.’ Public nudity was illegal under English common law, although it was subsumed under the more general offense of lewdness, along with such acts as adultery, fornication, and swearing.”


Although I prefer not to be naked in front of other people — I suspect that that is a good thing — I never really did understand why parts of the human body offend some people when exposed; nor do I understand how and why many of us were conditioned with that paradigm.

I have never understood why men can be topless; but women supposedly cannot — although topless women in public on the streets of the city of New York is not illegal, according to this article written by James C. McKinley Jr. for The New York Times. In fact, women technically can legally be topless in public in 33 states and Canada, according to

…and I have to laugh when every part of the breast of the woman can be shown — as long as the nipple is barely covered up; and yet men can flaunt their nipples virtually anywhere. What is up with that?!?

I also never understood why showing the naked bottom of a baby is acceptable; but not that of an adult — unless that adult is wearing the skimpiest thong. Then it is acceptable. Is the reason so that people cannot utter cracks about the crack?

Genitalia of both adult men and adult women remains the most verboten of all of the human body parts — but again, in some countries and some settings, having them exposed is perfectly acceptable. Hot springs, nude beaches and sex lodging are only two of many examples.

Then again, there is the classic ninth episode of the ninth season of the television show Seinfeld called The Apology which highlights “good naked” versus “bad naked” — and with that, perhaps a sigh of relief may be in order thanks to that reminder that nudity is not always pleasant. A foot pouring out of a sandal can appear to be rather disgusting in and of itself…

…but although people do not exactly expect public nudity at amusement parks, is a sauna and spa area of a hotel or resort property really a place where nudity should not be allowed — or should it perhaps be permitted?

By the way — although I have done this once before — if you were wondering about the photograph at the top of this article…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…it is simply a closeup of the elbow of a willing model; and then the photograph was rotated upside down.

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “Nudity in a Common Area of a Hotel Property: Offensive or Not?”

  1. Ben O says:

    As an American living in Europe it took a little getting used to, but now nudity (male/female mixed) is really not a problem. Not sure why but here they seem to think it is more hygienic not to have the towel or swim wear touching the seats. I don’t understand the logic. Regardless it is a bit of an American problem to think being nude in a private / public setting is bad. I don’t see how it matters for children either, of course I also wonder why you would bring them to a spa in the first place.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Well, I suppose a similar question could be asked about why would parents let children drink wine with a meal in France, Ben O — something which would not typically be encouraged in the United States.

      I do not drink alcoholic beverages for the reason that I simply do not like the taste; but even I know that a glass of wine with dinner can promote healthy benefits.

      Both seeing naked people in a sauna and drinking a glass of wine with dinner really are technically not harmful to children — or for adults in general, for that matter — as long as they are not abused.

      As for the hygiene issues of towels and swimwear, I am not sure I initially understand the logic either. Could they perhaps be a have for germs or bacteria as opposed to naked skin — especially when wet?

  2. Ryan says:

    There is nothing wrong with it because you are in Austria. In the USA maybe I could see how that would be a problem but you have to accept the culture of where you are and not where you are from.

  3. NB says:

    This incident happened in a hotel in Austria where it would be perfectly normal for people in saunas to be naked. In the absence of a sign forbidding it in the hotel sauna, then guests should expect the usual convention to apply. And, it should be noted, that a sauna is not a common area of the hotel in the normal meaning of the term – it’s a specific area set aside for guests to have a sauna where clearly a different dress, or undress, code applies.

    I suspect that the complainant was American as it’s difficult to see any other nationality doing so. He or she should remember to abide by the customs and conventions of the host country, rather than trying to impose his or her own. If you don’t like naked people in saunas, don’t go to a sauna in a country where that is expected.

  4. DaninMCI says:

    People are too sensitive. It’s fairly common for people to be nude in saunas and such in Europe. Topless on beaches is fairly common in some areas.
    Oh and quoting Slate or the New York Times is kinda weak just in my opinion as they are both so irrelevant and biased.

  5. Rupert says:

    The problem here is with the traveler who is unaware of local customs. In much of Northern Europe, wellness areas are co-ed and nude only. Many actually have signs requiring you to be nude. If you were to enter with clothes, you’d be asked to undress or leave – you’d be assumed to be a voyeur! Common courtesy is to look other guests in the eyes and not lower, hence there is no problem for anybody adhering to local customs.
    If you are are visiting a different culture, read about it and follow THEIR rules. If you don’t like the rules, avoid the places the rules apply, very simple. Ignorance in those cases is not bliss – it’s just ignorance…

  6. The human body is never offensive. Clothes can be, and people’s attitudes can be, but the human body is to be celebrated. It is healthier to be clothing free as much as possible (during sleep or at home, or at a pool, exercising, yoga, sauna.) The need to cover certain bits is only cultural and so subjective, relative and not ‘black and white’ . It came about mainly from prudish religious views that the ‘flesh’ is evil and shameful.
    In most naturist villages/resorts you of course put a towel down to sit at a restaurant or sun-lounger, but nudism is family-friendly (you see lots of families at naturist camps) and you find people and resorts far far cleaner, and far far less judgemental than at clothed resorts.

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