Frequent visitors and the born-and-bred alike know that New York City is known for a lot of major firsts, like the first bank-issued credit cards, the first teddy bear — even the first plate of eggs Benedict was served in the kitchen at the now-shuttered Waldorf Astoria.
And in addition to being the original home to our favorite brunch entrée, New York is also the birthplace of the very first nail salon. Fast forward 140 years, and the city is home to more than a thousand of them. And while we can all appreciate giving ourselves a good DIY mani while binge-watching The Office, let’s be honest: Nail care is one beauty ritual that most people are happy to outsource.
To avoid the potential staph infections and design booklets of bad nail art, ahead are the go-to spots worth a standing appointment. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind designs or a simple gel manicure, these are the best New York nail salons to try today.
Highlighting the industrial architecture the city is known for, this Flatiron nail studio brings a down-to-earth vibe to the typical NYC salon. Somewhere between Southern California and Scandinavian style, the hidden gem is a minimalist’s oasis — and not just because of the earthy interior design.
Founder Amy Ling Lin was determined to create a studio that provided safer nail care for clients without all the frills, but packed with plenty of wellness benefits. Aside from her own nail polish line (called Sundays, of course) — which is non-toxic, cruelty free, and vegan — Lin’s salon also offers guided-meditation manicures for anyone looking for some R&R from the busy city.
Sundays Nail Studio, 51 E. 25th St.; 646-998-5711.
Ever wish you could grab a cappuccino to sip on during your mani or follow up that gel nail art with a massage? Chillhouse makes it all possible. With an extensive service menu and an Instagram-worthy aesthetic, this newer favorite has it all — with a matcha latte on the side.
Chillhouse, 149 Essex Street; 646-678-3501.
Looking for a one-of-a-kind nail art experience? Make an appointment at Soho’s Bisou. It’s the en vogue nail art haven cranking out original designs you haven’t seen all over Instagram.
Bisou Nail Art Atelier, 6 Spring Street; 347-330-3477.
Photo Courtesy of Vogue.
If Cardi B didn’t have a personal nail artist already on call, we could envision her stopping by this salon any time she came back to the city. The hotspot imports techniques, styles, and equipment directly from Japan and employs a team of skilled artists for the bedazzled designs you never knew you needed. But be forewarned: One manicure can take upwards of three hours. (In this video, R29 beauty host Mi-Anne gets a Sailor Moon-inspired set.)
RounGe NYC, 201 E 23rd Street; 646-707-3504.
The artists here make sure every manicure is photo-worthy and perfect down to the last detail, but we suggest booking an appointment far in advance — it seems the secret is out.
Marie Nails, 155 Prince Street; 646-370-4170.
Photo: Via @marienails/Instagram.
Sisters Yumiko and Fumiko Kano have a long history of successful nail salons: The duo owned three spots in Japan before launching stateside, where they opened their first spa on the Upper East Side in 2007. Next came their serene Lower East Side haunt, which boasts a relaxing, sophisticated interior and a meticulous staff.
Nail+Spa Sakura, 35 East 1st Street (between First and Second avenues); 212-387-9161.
Photo: Courtesy of NAIL+SPA Sakura.
The Red Door Salon & Spa
If treating yourself to a luxurious mani/pedi appointment at Elizabeth Arden’s famous salon (Marilyn Monroe was a patron) is wrong, then who wants to be right? For your first visit, consider the Escape service, which offers a 10-minute hand and arm massage in addition to the hour-long treatment.
The Red Door Salon & Spa, 663 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street; 212-546-0200.
Photo: Courtesy of Red Door Salon & Spa.
Delacqua Salon and Spa, 2027 86th Street (between Bay 26th and Bay 25th Streets), Brooklyn; 718-266-1233.
Photo: Courtesy of Yelp.
Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa
Sweet Lily’s nail philosophy is consciousness: The spa actively avoids the use of harsh chemicals, instead opting for safe, natural, yet still effective products. All of the hand and foot exfoliants are made on site, and the spa exclusively uses Zoya polishes, which are free of formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, or camphor. Treat yourself both vanity-wise and health-wise.
Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa, 222 West Broadway (between White and Franklin streets); 212-925-5441.
Photo: Courtesy of Sweet Lily.
Jin Soon Natural Hand & Foot Salon
Nail artist Jin Soon is a mainstay backstage at fashion week, where she consistently whips up gorgeous nail looks that quickly become trends. But her salon, of which there are multiple locations across NYC, is definitely a more low-key experience. The spot is known for its luxe add-ons, like a flower-petal foot soak, to give you a seriously relaxing spa experience.
Jin Soon Natural Hand & Foot Salon, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Jin Soon Natural Hand & Food Salon.
An appointment for one of this LES mainstay’s totally indulgent — and blissfully affordable — manicure or pedicure treatments will have you feeling like you just came back from one of those spa retreats Gisele gets to take. Listen to smooth jazz, sip cocktails during Hortūs Happy Hour (11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday), and talk it out with Jane, the owner, who might be one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.
Hortūs Nailworks, 210 Forsyth Street (between Stanton and East Houston); 917-475-1558.
Photo: Courtesy of Hortus Nailworks.
The Nail Boutique
Dying to try acrylic but never had the guts? The Nail Boutique has the liquid courage you need — we mean nail polish, of course. This boutique spa manages to be glitzy without forsaking cleanliness or professionalism. Their chief mission: to make you feel fabulous.
The Nail Boutique, 983 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; 718-636-2024.
Essie Flagship Salon
Situated inside Samuel Shriqui is nail legend Essie Weingarten’s first-ever salon. Choose from over 300 of the brand’s iconic shades (everything from Ballet Slippers to Mint Candy Apple) and sink into one of the oversized, lush leather chairs, which are just as colorful as the polish itself. It’s a designer home for a household beauty name.
Essie Flagship Salon, 35 East 65th Street (between Madison and Park); 212-472-6805.
Photo: Courtesy of Essie Flagship Salon.
Bed Of Nails
This Harlem nail salon is arguably the neighborhood’s most posh; owner Candice Idehen, who’s tended to models’ nails at global fashion weeks, has stocked her spot with premium lacquers from the likes of Chanel, Deborah Lippmann, Tom Ford, and Essie. When she’s not on set for magazines such as Bazaar and Vogue, Idehen still takes appointments at her salon. It might not be a bad idea to become one of her regulars before word gets all the way out.
Bed of Nails, 2272 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (between West 133rd and West 134th); 212-694-2200.
Photo: Courtesy of Bed Of Nails.
So maybe you’re interested in nail art, but you don’t want your thumbnails to have 3D dinosaurs playing ping-pong while a Precious Moments kitten pounces on your pinky. That’s where Paintbox comes in. The spacious studio features a menu of chic seasonal designs all dreamed up by celebrity manicurist and creative director Julie Kandalec. A host of smart touches (complimentary beverages, iPhone charging stations) has quickly placed this spot among the city’s best beautifiers.
Paintbox, 17 Crosby Street (between Grand and Howard); 212-219-2412.
Primp & Polish
No, this isn’t the cheapest spot in Brooklyn, and we’re not crazy about having to pay $4 more for Dior or Chanel lacquer. But we’re letting that go because of these three words: outdoor pedicure garden, where you can stretch out while your feet are massaged, your hangnails are removed, and your toenails are painted to a glossy shine. No need to worry about inclement weather, either — the patio is covered, so you can get groomed come rain, shine, or whatever crazy stuff Mother Nature throws at us next.
Primp & Polish, 172 Bedford Avenue (between North 7th and North 8th), Brooklyn; 718-384-3555.
It’s not quite a gallery, exactly, but this space is so much more than a nail salon. Here, founder Rita de Alencar Pinto fuses two of her professional interests — fine-art curation and nail art — into a high-concept mani/pedi studio. Video-art installations play on the walls, while the “residency” calendar features a rotating roster of well-known nail artists such as Masako Sasaki and Jessica Washick.
Vanity Projects, 99 Chrystie Street, 2F (between Grand and Hester); 646-410-2928.
Dream it up, and chances are good that Valley can make it happen on your nails. Since 2006, this downtown salon has been decorating nails with everything from Degas to Warhol, The Hunger Games to Grumpy Cat — and, if you bring in an inspiration photo, your manicurist will be more than happy to translate it to your nails.
Valley Nails, multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Valley Nails.
Better show up 10 minutes early for your mani/pedi — you’ll want the extra time to pore over Tenoverten’s massive selection of polish colors. Along with its excellent house brand of five-free lacquers, the salon has the latest hues from the likes of RGB, NARS, Essie, and Dior. As for the services themselves, the cheerful technicians and their obsession with cleanliness are top-notch.
Tenoverten, multiple locations.
Van Court Studio
Looking for something natural and chic downtown? This non-toxic spa is for you. All of Van Court’s polish options are five-, seven-, or nine-free (think: LVX, Floss Gloss, Deborah Lippmann, and more) and its creams and oils are natural and often organic. Did we mention that you can book an appointment in your home? Think Seamless for manicures.
Van Court Studio, 90 Water St. (near Gouverneur Lane); 212-509-2222.
Photo: Courtesy of Van Court Studio.
Into intricate nail art? Look no further than this LES nail shop. Here, nail artists borrow traditional Japanese techniques to create, well, anything you want. Not feeling so inspired? No problem: You can check out the gallery here or simply brainstorm with your technician, as the shop specializes in hundreds of designs.
Akiko Nails, 137 Rivington St. (near Norfolk St.); 646-841-6721.
Photo: Courtesy ofr Akiko Nails.
This Brooklyn salon does it all — nails, lash extensions, brows, waxing, and more — making it a one-stop shop for all things beauty in Bushwick. Your options are unlimited, from nail art to a simple “quickie” manicure or pedicure. Bonus? The prices are super competitive.
Local Honey, 53 Irving Ave. (at Troutman St.), Brooklyn; 347-404-6139.
If you still think of everything south of Williamsburg as a no man’s land, then avail yourself of this teeny-tiny nail salon in one of Brooklyn’s most charming neighborhoods. The Hawaiian-themed decor is kitschy in the best way, and they have numerous organic polish options on offer, as well as your Essie and OPI favorites. Just be sure to book a chair well in advance — walk-ins are accepted and the seats fill up fast.
Pau Hana, 235 Court St. (at Baltic St.), Brooklyn; 347-223-4224.
This tiny salon is decked out in minimal decor, packed with non-toxic nail polish from floor to ceiling, and stocked with organic herbal tea. If you haven’t already noticed, this salon boasts a mission statement that includes eco-friendly services, organic essential oil hand massages, and handcrafted wood furniture that looks like something Aidan Shaw made on SATC — with low-key vibes to match. A gel manicure won’t cost you more than $50 and walk-ins are totally okay (although appointments are appreciated).
ph7, 227 Grand St. (between Driggs and Roebling), Brooklyn; 718-218-8586
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