The inside of Cheeky Parlour on Redchurch in Shoreditch, London. Image by: Courtesy
The spas, nail and hair salons to hit up in London’s East End.
For the most intricate manicure of your life
Boxpark Shoreditch, Unit 32 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6GY
The place: Imarni Nails is located in Boxpark, a “pop-up mall” (it’s been around since 2011) made entirely out of shipping containers. It makes for an interesting set-up; the stores are all long and narrow. You could spend hours exploring the shops; I recommend going up to the second floor for food –from vegan thai to duck-only resto The Duck Truck, there's something for everyone.
Ask for: Anything. I came across the salon on Instagram when I was looking for nail art inspiration, and this salon has it in spades. All of their designs are hand-painted; tacked up to the wall are Polaroids of different nail art designs and what they were inspired by – for example, a grid-like design that took it's pattern from a Chanel jacket and skirt – as well as tears of their editorial work and famous clients, like FKA Twigs.
I chose a design inspired by a Vivienne Westwood print that required fine, straight lines to be layered one over another. It was no problem for the experienced nail artist, who cured the coats of rich navy gel polish two nails at a time, rather than waiting for an entire hand to painted, to prevent the shrinkage that often occurs with application of dark colours and would leave the very tips of my nails unpolished. It lasted, sans chips, for almost three weeks.
For a speedy hair fix
1st Floor, 64-66 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DP
The place: Cheeky Parlour occupies one of three floors in the Barber & Parlour building on trendy Redchurch street. (Cheeky is a sister brand to Cowshed, see below, that offers cosmetics, hair and body products with a more playful edge). The salon offers manicures and pedicures, as well as waxing services. Colourist Josh Wood, the man responsible for the "new neon" highlights at Versace's F/W 2017 show, also operates out of the location. The other floors include men's grooming salon Neville Barber, a restaurant and Electric Cinema, a luxe movie theatre with cushy, oversize seats.
Ask for: A braid. I asked for a blowout, as per my usual travel policy, but had forgotten to factor in the drizzly London weather.
To decompress post-flight
Cowshed Spa at Shoreditch House
Shoreditch House, 1 Ebor St, London E1 6AW
The place: Cowshed is a popular British-made brand of skincare, haircare and body products free of parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates, artificial colours and fragrances. They have spas throughout London and in various international locations; their East End spa is located on the first floor of swanky members-only club Shoreditch House (although you don't need a membership to enter the spa).
Ask for: The Cowshed Moody Massage. Offered in 45, 60, 75 and 90-minute increments, the massage is tailored to your mood at the moment you lay down for the treatment. The therapist waves a handful of different scents underneath your nose, and asks which one appeals to you most. Unbeknownst to me until after the massage, I had chosen "Knackered," a combination of lavender, eucalyptus and rose oils meant to stimulate and uplift the burnt-out and broken. (I had flown in the day before, and slept no more than 3 hours due to jet lag, so that description sounded about right.) Heavenly.