Gel or acrylic? Intricate nail art or a classic French tip? Extravagant extensions or a subtle no-mani-mani? Whatever your style, there’s nothing better than walking out of the nail bar, professionally applied manicure still fresh, to make you feel perfectly put together.
Sure, you can paint your nails in the comfort of your own home, but where’s the fun (and the luxury) in that? Sitting down in a salon, solo or with friends, for a precious hour of pampering is always worth it, in our humble opinion. And thankfully, the capital is chock full of trendy nail bars and salons that are more than happy to take you and your cuticles in their well-trained hands. Finding your perfect manicurist will always take a degree of trial and error, but to make it easier for you, we’ve put together our pick of the best nail bars in London.
You can trust you’ll be leaving Pre- with the prettiest nails thanks to the salon’s signature treatments, high-performance products and excellent customer service. Using The Gel Bottle, Manucurist, Nailberry and Elim polishes, choose from Dash appointments for quick colour fixes or the Trademark and Lux treatments for the real deal. The expert team is also on hand to whip up an array of nail art designs, from a classic French tip to delicate floral designs, and we’d wholly recommend adding on an extended hand massage to round off your relaxing manicure experience. Don’t leave without booking in for one of Pre-‘s bespoke cosmeceutical facials too – we’ve heard they’re among the best in town…
Duck & Dry, Mayfair and Islington
In need of a speedy but satisfying manicure? We know just the place. With outposts in Mayfair and Islington, the friendly team of nail technicians at Duck & Dry are on hand to fix your every (n)ailment. Pick from BIAB, gel or polish in an array of colours, including a palette by gel specialists 14 Day Manicure, as well as carefully-designed nail art. The Mayfair salon is home to Duck & Dry’s largest cocktail and prosecco bar, so you can relax with your favourite tipple in hand why the experts get to work on those cuticles. Fancy a pamper day? Book a beautiful blow dry or cut and wash in the same salon for the full works. Rumour has it that it’s one of the best in London…
Piovoine, Belsize Park
Situated at the heart of leafy Belsize Village, Piovoine – French for peony – is a tranquil setting for those all-important fresh sets or infills. Bright and airy, decorated in a white hue, the nail spa is owned by Aya Khazaal who knows a thing or two about tip-top nails. Stocking hundreds of colours, as well as a range of shades from vegan and cruelty-free brand Gel Bottle Inc, the team’s attention to detail (especially when it comes to those cuticles) is second to none. Trust you’ll be leaving here feeling instantly refreshed – and your hands and toes will be looking incredible too…
70 Belsize Lane, Belsize Park, NW3 5BJ, visit piovoinenailspa.co.uk
Ama The Salon, Brixton and Leicester Square
With a celebrity clientele that includes Adele, Dua Lipa and Adwoa Aboah (to name just a few), Ama The Salon has long been South London’s best-kept secret. Founded by Ama Quashie, whose work has graced the campaigns of Saint Laurent and Celine, Ama The Salon offers a range of premium, organic and bespoke nail treatments, which put nail care at the forefront. Drawing on a decade of experience, the salon’s founder has hand-picked each polish and gel brand used in the nail bar, many of which are vegan, cruelty-free and up to 90 per cent naturally derived. More recently, Ama The Salon has set up shop in the boutique, serene surroundings of The Londoner hotel in Leicester Square. Expect the usual exceptional service and well-loved ‘Free From’ treatments.
Aura Organics Spa, Hackney Wick
Set in the shadow of Hackney’s Olympic Village, overlooking the canal from its space in Here East, spa and wellness centre Aura Organics offers a range of bespoke, holistic treatments, including a range of vegan manicures, using low toxic and cruelty-free products. Whether you’re in the mood for an express Mantra manicure to give your nails some TLC between gels, the relaxing Goddess manicure (which includes a glass of prosecco and a chakra-aligning hand massage), or even a set of lightweight, natural feel extensions, the team at Aura have everything you need to feel truly pampered. You’ll find the brand’s second outpost in Greenwich, which specialises in facials, massages, and waxing.
Here East, 21 E Bay Lane, E15 2GW, visit auraorganicsspa.com
Linnaean, Nine Elms
Another proponent of the natural nails trend, Nine Elms’ Linnaean believes that immaculate nails are healthy nails, and prioritises nail care throughout all of its gender-neutral treatments. Using non-toxic, plant-based and cruelty-free gels and polishes, Linnaean’s extensive Nails À La Carte menu covers everything you could want from your nail bar, from a no-polish file and buff to a French gel manicure and IBX strengthening treatments. Post-treatment, saunter downstairs to discover the hair salon, face and body clinic and floral restaurant and bar serving plant-rich dishes from avocado on sourdough and rarebit toast for breakfast to the signature burger and yakitori skewers come lunch. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a nail bar – you could easily spend all day here.
2 New Union Square, Nine Elms, SW11 7AX, visit linnaean.co.uk
London Grace, across London
Believing that getting your nails done should be a social experience, London Grace shook up the capital’s nail bar scene with its unique take on a nail-salon-meets-coffee-shop-meets-cocktail-bar. What more could you need? You won’t find any damaging extensions or OTT cuticle cutting here. Putting nail care first and foremost, London Grace uses its own vegan and ‘no nasties’ nail polish and CND Shellac across its nine London locations, ensuring that your nails feel as good as they look long after your topcoat has dried. With outposts across the capital – including Shoreditch, Angel, Bank, Clapham, Putney and Canary Wharf – there’s no excuse not to sample this nail bar.
Offering nails and cocktails mere moments from Oxford Circus, Paint takes the term nail bar very literally. With technicians trained to offer every treatment you could think of, from classic mani-pedis as you sip on a martini to express drop-in treatments between visits to Liberty and Selfridges, you can rest assured that your nails will be in good hands.
28 Market Place, W1W 8AW, visit paintnailslondon.co.uk
Townhouse, across London
On a mission to redefine and elevate the nail salon experience with top-quality treatments in serene surroundings, Townhouse is one of London’s most in-demand nail bar brands. Specialising in intricate nail art, with a string of brand collaborations under its belt and an illustrious celebrity clientele to boot, it’s not hard to see why. And whether you’re in Fitzrovia, Knightsbridge, Kensington or the newest bar on Chelsea’s King’s Road, you can rest easy knowing that whichever Townhouse salon you strut into, they’ll nail it every time.
Young LDN, Notting Hill
The Gen-Z salon of choice, Young LDN offers you an opportunity to truly switch off as your nails are preened and pampered. Each station in the Westbourne Grove nail lounge comes complete with charging points, wireless headphones and iPads, so if small talk isn't your thing, you won’t be left feeling awkward as you totally zone out. Whether you’re after the CBD manicure, an express treatment, or the lounge’s renowned Japanese manicure, you’re free to spend your all-important me time however you choose. The offering doesn’t stop there; elsewhere, you can enjoy lash, brown and facial treatments in The Lounge before stopping off at The Lab for more hi-tech body therapies, including laser hair and tattoo removal.
228 Westbourne Grove, W11 2RH, visit youngldn.com