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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Xin Dongfang: Chinese Foot Therapy Salon in Zamalek
Sometimes you have to try something off the beaten track just to remind yourself that you are an adventurous person who isn’t afraid of anything. For instance, stepping into a Chinese foot salon in Cairo to have your feet done by someone who speaks nothing but Chinese.
Xin Dongfang is located inside the Metro Market building in Zamalek facing Flamenco Hotel. Although full-body massages are available (180LE), the centre specializes in foot treatments. You can get a pedicure for 30LE and various kinds of foot treatments like a ginger or crystal foot bath, both of which cost 88LE.
During the foot massages, the reflexology technique is used. It is believed that every part of your foot represents a different body part. By applying pressure and massaging these parts without the use of tools, creams or lotions, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body. It basically means that the more balanced you are as a person, the less painful the therapy will be.
This reviewer sampled the 25-minute pedicure and the 45-minute milk foot bath. Male and female technicians are available so you can specify your preference for the treatment. The treatment room has three comfortable chairs, so you can sit with your friends and gossip while having your treatment. Since the staff members only speak Chinese, we assume that our secrets will stay pretty much safe.
You are first asked to put your feet into a wooden tub filled with warm water and stones at the bottom of it. We suspect that they must have some sort of healing effect, but since the technicians don’t speak English, we couldn’t ask. Don’t expect a regular manicure here; there is no nail polishing here; as a matter of fact they don’t even take off your nail polish. They just scrape off all the dead skin and cut your nails. The scraping is done with a tool that closely resembles a knife. Don’t be too scared, though; the tools are sterilized before usage.
We also tried the milk foot massage for 88LE. The water that was brought in the tub was a surprising bright blue, not milk-white as we’d expected. The foot reflexology was applied and once again, the more in balance you are, the less painful it is.
If you’re up for a thorough and therapeutic foot treatment, then we recommend Xin Dongfang; especially for men; as this isn’t an overly feminine, pink Hello Kitty nail salon. You can just sit back, watch the sports channel and retain your masculinity, whilst having nice feet afterwards; a perfect compromise.
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.