The Beauty Salon: Amiable Hair Salon in Zamalek
9 El Malek El Afdal St. (Beside Borg Om Kolthoum)
Many upper floor salons in Cairo block out their windows with dusty posters of questionable hairdo’s – not the Beauty Salon in Zamalek, though. Sitting on the first floor of a residential building on El Malek El Afdal Street, their window is clear and adorned, either side, with large Grecian pillars. The décor of the place was probably fashionable once upon a time, with black and grey marble floors and walls, black and gold vintage chandeliers and fussy mirrors; although the salon was a little outdated, everything seemed neat and tidy, creating a rather charming feel.
We booked in advance but happened to be the only customers anyway. As soon as we walked in, the staff bent over backwards to make us feel comfortable; smiling constantly, lighting incense, offering us drinks and generally being friendly and chatty whilst being unobtrusive.
The salon offers various treatments including haircuts for 75LE, blow-drying for 50LE and they’ll touch up your roots for 250LE-350LE. A mani-pedi is 60LE, whilst eyebrow threading is 30LE and a full body wax starts at around 200LE. After relapsing into a nail-biting habit, a manicure was essential (30LE), as was a wavy blow-dry (50LE).
Quickly, we were towelled up and beckoned over to the basins. We spotted a couple of hairs already sitting in the sink, but the towels seemed clean. We waited for ages before the water heated up and when it did, it struggled to steady at one temperature. On a more positive note, the woman washing our hair was both gentle and thorough, and wrapped our hair tightly before leading us into the next room for our manicure.
As expected, the room was smaller than the hair salon but was still roomy, with wooden decking beneath large, comfortable-looking armchairs where patrons would sit for their pedicure treatments. We were lead to the standard nail bar on the other side of the room and the work began. We started with a warm soak before the technician trimmed back our cuticles, using her own nails for scraping and some sterilised clippers, before our nails were cut short as requested and filed smooth. We were given boxes and bags of assorted nail polishes to choose from in just about every colour, matte or metallic, from a multitude of brands. The nail technician’s hands were a little shakey but the results were still just above average.
Afterwards, we were ushered into the hands of the hairdresser who proceeded to prance around like a ninja, gently volumising our roots and quickly wrapping it around several round hairbrushes. In around twenty minutes, he unleashed our clean, wavy, smooth barnet, perfectly textured and flicking up from the bottom. We were delighted with our new do and will certainly be returning before a night out.
The salon itself might not be the most attractive, but it oozes charm, particularly from its hospitable staff. The Beauty Salon provides personal, fast and effective services and may make a good – and more cost effective – alternative to the busier, mainstream salons.