Spa

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

“Wait a minute. You’re the Spa Editor of BNNYC and you’re getting your nails done here?” the girl at the dryer next to me asked in surprise. “Why not?” I replied as the UV light lit up. “I’ve had manicures that cost $50 and I gotta tell ya, this one is just as good, if not better.” The Upper East Side’s Charming Nails (listed in New York Magazine’s ‘Best of 2007′ section) is around the corner from my apartment, the place is kept clean and the equipment sterilized, the ambiance is quite pretty, the manicure lasts, and with an extra $40 a week in my pocket, I’m that much closer to my next pair of Choos. Hey, if money is really no object, by all means, pamper yourself with the fancy schmancy manicure and travel to the nearest, trendiest spa in New York City. But if you don’t happen to live in a building marked with a ‘red door’, here are some of BN’s favorite neighborhood spas to satisfy your weekly manicure indulgences – without breaking the bank.

Charming Nails, 212 East 87th Street #1 (btw 2nd and 3rd ave) (212) 987-7239

If time is of the essence (and it usually is), visit the Upper East Side’s CoCo Nails for an incredible $7 mani and an $18 pedicure (which features both an exfoliating and moisturizing foot and leg massage). This ‘no frills’, no-wait joint, doesn’t waste your time nor your money. More importantly, they never skimp on their quality ‘hand’-y work.

CoCo Nails, 1708 1st Avenue (btw 88th and 89th), (212) 996-3762

Skincare editor, Candice Sabatini, is a regular customer at Murray Hill’s Nail Niobe. Walk-in for their $9 manicure (or call during peak times) and it won’t be long before you find yourself a regular there too. The entire staff is friendly and does a fabulous job, but Candice, always the loyal friend, beelines over to Choi who has been doing her nails for over 5 years. Candice says, “She knows how to file them into the perfect shape I like.”

Nail Niobe, 518 3rd Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street), 212-481-9342

Bonnie Kim, our Metro Mama Editor, visits the West Village’s Spa Belles on the corner of Christopher & Bleecker Street when her hands need some extra loving care. The staff is friendly, the place is open and airy, and it’s conveniently located just one block west of the 1 & 9 trains.

Spa Belles, 326-328 Bleeker Street, (212) 645-3112

Michelyn Camen, BN’s Editorial Director and Fragrance Editor, is another Murray Hill mani fan. Michelyn gives her hands a treat at Galleria Nail Salon. ” It’s my favorite neighborhood nail salon, (Sara Debarbieri, the owner also has three other salons in the area),” she says. “The salon’s ambience and service is more upscale than others in the area. My expert manicure is performed by the magnificent Maria, a 15-year veteran of the industry”.

After any 10 services at any Galleria Nail and Spa location, on your 11th visit, you are treated to a free manicure… Services range from a professional $12 manicure to eyelash extensions and pretty much everything in between. Walk-ins are welcome, but it can get busy, so you may want to call ahead.

Galleria Nail and Spa, 479 Third Avenue, (between 32nd and 33rd) (212) 481-5656

Think $7.50 for Essie nail polish is a steal? You’ve obviously never been to Athena’s Nails, home of the $8 (not a typo) manicure and a favorite of BN’s Beauty Editor, Dina Fierro. This Astoria, Queens gem (located just a block from the 30th Avenue station on the N/W) not only does a bang-up job, but the salon is immaculate and staff is efficient. At prices like these, you can indulge weekly without an ounce of guilt.

Athena’s Nails, 31-11 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11102, (718) 278-4597

Who better to ask for a recommendation than our Ask the Experts Editor, Amy Sciarretto? She says, “For the ultimate inexpensive manicure, I only go to Lily Nails, located just near the Flat Iron Building. If I can’t make it to Lily when I need a mani, I notice the difference, so it’s rare that I go anywhere else. For $11.50, you get a manicure, a coat of Quick Dry topcoat, a 2-minute back rub, and a manicure that lasts and doesn’t start chipping till at least 3-4 days later. The nail technicians here make sure every stray cuticle is nipped and not a speck of dirt is left under your fingernails. They have your standard selection of every color under the sun by OPI and Essie, and the staff is always pleasant and calls you by your name after a few visits.

Pop music is piped through the salon’s speakers, while the wood floor, brand new pedi chairs, and beautiful angel painted mural on the wall lend Lily an ambience that’s classier and more posh than your average midtown manicure place”. Walks in are welcome, and appointments are accepted.

Lily Nails, 15 East 21st Street at Broadway, (212) 254-4118

If you’re wondering if those $50 manicures I mentioned earlier include champagne, caviar and 12 sexy men giving you a massage while feeding you grapes, I’m here to tell you, it just doesn’t happen that way. As long as your local ‘cheapy’ mani/pedi place is kept clean and sterilized, there’s almost no reason to deprive yourself of this weekly (and budget-conscious) indulgence. For around $10-$12, it’s really quite amazing what 10 perfectly polished fingernails can do to enhance your appearance and self-esteem.

Originally published March 2008
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