Where the nail buffs go pre-hols
PAYOT: “PRECIOUS FEET RITUAL”
The French skincare brand is just the one to turn to if you want nourished, hydrated skin as well as pretty nails. The Precious Feet Ritual starts with the eyes – a firming mask rehydrates bags and plumps the brow area while the therapist goes to work on your feet. First, a foot bath full of essential oils of orange and grapefruit, then your feet and lower legs are exfoliated with a hydrating sugar scrub loaded with more essential oils. Relax and unwind further while a detoxifying malachite gemstone balm is applied and your legs wrapped in heated booties. Now with feet and legs as smooth as a baby’s bottom, you’re ready for your polishing – and your holiday. 60 minutes, £60, Marylebone Hotel. 0207 042 6444, www.thethirdspace.com/spa
COWSHED: “ULTIMATE PEDICURE”
This is the spa and product range of choice for movers and shakers – it’s the in-house brand at Soho and Shoreditch House members’ clubs as well as the spa at the group’s ultra-exclusive Babington House. But the brand is not all image: its pedicures are among the best in town according to nail buffs (pun intended). The Ultimate Cowshed Pedicure ticks all the boxes, and well too. Nailwork is completed – filing, cuticle-tidying, scrubbing. Then the good part: a deep leg and foot massage followed by a hydration mask foot wrap during which your neck and shoulders are massaged. The more hardcore among you may want to try the Skinceuticals Fruit Acid Peel, which requires a skin test the day before to make sure you won’t react badly. The result is divinely soft feet – perfect for those St Tropez nights in delicate Marc Jacobs sandals. 75 mins, £55. Look at www.cowshedonline.com to find a location near you.
THE SPA AT BROWNS: “HOT TO TROT”
Browns’ spa is famous for its seasonal pedicures. Other spas may boast “deluxe” or “luxury” but nobody does it quite like this. In the smart hotel’s basement you find a tiny warren of rooms, where seasonal pedicures that are rather like holidays in themselves take place. I’ve had blueberries, chocolate and honey applied to my tootsies here – always with a matching cocktail. This summer’s “Hot to Trot” pedicure involves a deep pressure point foot massage given while you sip on a passionfruit, lychee and minty gin cocktail, followed by a mint soak, paraffin wax booties and a tip-top polish. 90 mins, £85, Brown’s Hotel, 33, Albermale Street, W1S 4BP. 020 7518 4009, www.rocco fortehotels.com.
NAIL GIRLS: “SIGNATURE PEDICURE”
Sister-run Nail Girls have a great little shop in Islington and brilliant, eye-popping colours they made themselves. Better yet, the colours free from harmful chemicals (toluene, formaldehyde, DBP and camphor), are not animal tested and use recyclable packaging. In the “drying lounge” you can watch a movie or just hang out while sipping a glass of fizz or green tea. The spa is a cool hangout as much as a nail salon – just as it should be. £40 mins for 40 mins. 50 Cross Street, Islington N1 2BA. 020 7359 2772, nailgirls.co.uk/in-spa
WAH NAILS: “LUXE PEDI”
Now an institution for the upwardly mobile and hip (“London’s first hipster nail salon”, wrote the New York Times), Wah Nails has a flagship in Dalston and a boutique in Top Shop. It’s the place you go if you’re feeling mega-adventurous (not, ahem, tacky). Nail designs include tuxedos, stars and stripes, hundreds and thousands and Jackson Pollock-style splashes. But your basic luxe pedi includes massage, exfoliation and polish, for £51. Crazy nail art costs from £30 – see how daring you feel when you get there. 420 Kingsland Road, E8 4AA, and Selfridges. 020 7812 9889, wah-nails.com
He’s the Karl Lagerfeld of footcare: a (French)man so hardcore he believes pedicures should be treated like trips to the dentist. His goal is “optimum mobility” – involving muscular flexibility, joint mobility and blood circulation, and skin elasticity. As for your nails, they’ll be left as “sparkling as with a lacquer” – only without one. Using a technique passed down from his grandmother, expect deep massage, the use of dentist drills (or similar) for dry skin removal and nails that look even better without varnish than with. £110, 60 minutes. Cadogan Hotel, 75 Sloane Street, SW1X 9SG, 0776 666 3271, bastiengonzalez.com