Royal Nails: Higgledy-Piggledy Nail Salon in Heliopolis
3 Hassan Yousry Street, Ard El Golf, Heliopolis
In a city where pampering has become a necessity, there’s no end to the list of beauty salons in Cairo – some more luxurious than others, of course. Located on a quiet side street in the Ard El Golf district in Heliopolis, Royal Nails’ external appearance is that of swanky nail salon. But upon entry to the warmly-lit venue, an uncomfortably strong smell of acetone and perfume momentarily stunned our senses.
The salon offers services including henna and hair removal, acrylic and gel nails, nail art, manicures and pedicures. A full manicure is 40LE, however, that was as much information as we were able to draw from them regarding the prices of their treatments, which were imprudently guarded with almost pious devotion. The shop floor is laid out with four large nail bars, three pedicure chairs and a private area at the back where they perform the hair removal and henna tattoo services.
Despite previously not answering their phones, we were turned away and told to book an appointment 24 hours in advance; this is apparently the protocol for ‘new’ customers. Once tended to by one of the lesser-in-demand therapists, we opted for round-tip filing and uni-colour polish – typical to the basic manicure package. The chairs at the bar were surprisingly comfortable and each station was well-equipped with expensive looking appliances and baskets filled with various nail tools and polishes. Our therapist took no time in getting to work, though we noticed that the equipment wasn’t sterilised before use, but this seemed to be policy rather than error.
Unfortunately, the manicure wasn’t performed with the precision we’d hoped for and several of our cuticles were cut deep enough to draw blood. However, the beautician did apologise and assured us that it was entirely our fault for having such delicate skin.
When it came to selecting a colour we were given the choice between personal preference and her own professional opinion. For research purposes we decided to trust her expertise and were rewarded with a sparkly, flesh-coloured lacquer. It was applied in the typical order of base coat, second coat, and top coat, though the corners of both thumbnails were left unpainted.
After being quickly shooed away to make room for a regular customer, we waited for our nails to dry in the corner before settling the bill.
With all the airs and pretensions of a high-end nail salon, we expected the actual service at Royal Nails to make up for the severe lack of professionalism on the part of the staff. We were, however, disappointed on all fronts and left with the impression that we would have been better off sticking to salons we can rely on.