Sign in using your account with
Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
The Grooming Lounge for Men: Male Pampering in Maadi
Sniggers, chuckles, chortles and guffaws. Those are the normal responses to any man in Egypt who is brave enough to announce his desire to subject himself to any grooming beyond the application of roll-on deodorant or a quick shave and haircut.
Mani-pedis are certainly not in the lexicon of most males – Egyptian or not – and one should not be surprised if he becomes the proverbial butt of many jokes by his male friends. However, if you keep an open mind, you may be surprised by how much you secretly enjoy the experience of being pampered.
Right off El Laselky Street in Maadi, opposite a Toyota car dealership, is a bastion of metrosexuality in Cairo; a grooming (we can’t say beauty) salon catering solely to men in this fair city. It has the benefit of an outside gate, with a short path up to the main door. Once inside, the staff ply you with lavish greetings and salutations, relieving any insecurity that you may feel, and subliminally reassuring you that, yes, you are normal.
All in all, the decor is decidedly modern masculinity: strong, curved lines, magazine holders carrying sports, business and political publications, while large LCDs display whatever you would like to watch. Perhaps a NFL football game while you soak your feet? Or a basketball game while you manicure your nails?
The management plans to add a separate private room for full body massages, but not till next year. That’s fine; massages make us nervous anyway. Meanwhile, all haircuts and shaves come with pre- and post-procedure scalp and facial massages, either with a vibrating hand glove or warm and hot towels. Very relaxing stuff.
Complimentary tea and coffee are available if you are so inclined, but smoking indoors is not allowed– that’s what the garden out front is for.
The prices are the only sour patch in the entire affair. 40LE for an expert haircut is fine, but 50LE for a basic shave and 120LE for 'the royal shave' are unreasonable, while a manicure/pedicure costs 60LE. Yes, all manner of bells and whistles are attached, but no amount of tinsel can disguise the fact that it is still overpriced.
Still, the Grooming Lounge has won over one sceptical customer– at least for their haircuts, which were meticulous and took well over an hour to complete.
Beauty salons in Cairo are more used as a necessity than a luxury, and can be seen lining the streets of the busy city. For those living a little further out in New Cairo, however, salons are few and far between. With a decent reputation for nail care, Nail Fashion has set up shop in the Downtown Katameya Mall.
Situated on the first floor of building S2, the frosted-glass fronted salon is adorned with sprawling purple illustrations, just like their Citystars branch. Beyond the double doors, an extra frosted glass pane shields the salon’s floor space from the sight of passersby, for extra privacy. Brightly lit, the salon is spacious and airy, with full-length windows stretched across the back wall.
A white and purple colour-scheme is reflected throughout, with a garish, purple leather couch for waiting customers, and white manicure and pedicure stations. On first glance the salon appears clean and sterile, but when looking closer, there are obvious signs of un-cleanliness, and wear and tear in the furniture.
Placed next to the receptionist, the varied nail polish displays are well-kept and orderly, organised into brand and shade. Alongside the popular Orly, OPI and Essie brands, there was also a wide range of longer-lasting gel polishes.
Despite the name, Nail Fashion don’t limit themselves to just nails, but also offer a range of beauty services, including manicures and pedicures, waxing and hair removal, make-up, facials (300LE+) and massages (400LE+). We opted for a full arm (60LE) and underarm wax (40LE), as well as a manicure (70LE) and pedicure (80LE), all of which seemed a little overpriced compared to other established salons.
Beginning with the waxing, we were lead through another frosted glass door to a small private room which appeared clean but a little untidy. Whilst the beautician was quick, a few hairs remained, even after rigorous re-attempts of pulling in the wrong direction. Afterwards, a generous layer of baby oil was spread over our skin, before we were handed a fragranced, scolding hot towel which burnt our fingertips.
Next, we were seated in a comfy armchair in front of a pedicure basin and relaxed as our feet were scrubbed and massaged, before our nails were perfectly shaped and painted. During the filing, we unfortunately suffered a broken nail which was dutifully glued back together so as not to upset their appearance. The same, thorough treatment was given to our hands, leaving us with clean and tidy nails, as well as soft skin.
Whilst the waxing experience wasn’t the best, with almost unjustifiable prices, Nail Fashion employs a team of practised nail technicians, making it one to visit for basic nail treatments when everywhere else is busy.