Tarek El Tahan: No-Nonsense Nail & Hair Salon in Dokki
20, Mossadak St.
After a hard week of tapping away at the Cairo 360 keyboards, we were looking forward to finally giving our nails some attention at the hands of Tarek El Tahan beauty salon in Dokki. We arrived without an appointment, and although it was fairly late in the day we were seen to straight away. A brusque receptionist greeted us at the door; after she had ascertained that it was nail care we were after we were introduced to a very sweet woman who made us feel most welcome.
Over the rumbling sound of hair dryers, a stereo played a selection of 90’s classic power ballads, but there wasn’t the usual salon chit-chat going on – this is a walk in, walk out sort of place. The salon is clean and bright and features all modern appliances, with generic hair products available to buy at the till. Most of the salon is given over to hairdressing, so the nail-care area was very cramped with all sorts of equipment that we had to clamber over in order to sit down. Throughout our visit, the staff had to lean over us awkwardly to get to equipment behind our chairs, and we were made to feel in the way of everybody.
There was only a small selection of nail varnish colours for us to choose from, but it was all of good quality and they even stocked the cracked effect polishes. However, as they only made one chair available to us, and we had come in a pair, we had to take it in turns to be seen to, while the other sat in a rather uncomfortable hair-washing chair.
We opted for a French manicure (40LE) and pedicure (40LE). The technician was thorough and happy to take care of any issues we pointed out. On a few occasions we cowered as she attacked the skin, but it turned out that she did know best; the results were better than we could have managed at home, although at some points it was quite a brutal affair.
Sticky creams were applied on our hands and feet after the procedure, but this was all the additional care we received. The polish results were not particularly smooth or neat, and while the attendant hadn’t offered advice during the session, she did agree afterwards that something other than a French manicure would have been better.
We were offered a drink which we assumed was complimentary; however, afterwards we were told quite curtly that it would be at an additional cost. The incident, featuring both the manager and the receptionist, ruined any relaxing experience we were hoping for, and made us feel rather unwelcome; the cherry on top came when the seemingly competent hair dressing staff looked on in embarrassment as their boss argued with us over providing a receipt. We left the salon feeling drained and harassed.