Ask Raya: A Better Manicure Experience

“First of all, let me say I’m not a snob. But I’m sick and tired of going to nail salons that feel dirty and hectic. I treat myself to a regular manicure and pedicure because I need the stress relief and cuticle cleanup, but I’m tired of paying for a low quality job on my nails and toes and an uncomfortable experience. Where do you go?! I need a new place and a new pedi!” –Pedi Hunter

This question comes at the best possible time, because I’ve had three great nail experiences in the last few months: Red Door Salon across from NorthPark Mall, Hiatus Spa + Retreat at Inwood Village, and Pura Vida Nails in Grapevine. Reviews follow. Jump for ‘em.



This is definitely the most relaxing manicure/pedicure experience I’ve ever had. If you’re interested in flipping the pages of your favorite glossies and gabbing away at your cell like Cher, skip to the next review. This experience is not for you. Everything about this Aveda spa screams whispers relaxation. A warm neck pillow and hot tea are served pre-pedi. You’re then covered up with a soft-as-butter blanket and blindfolded before choosing the aromatherapy oil you want used during your session. The antigravity recliners lay back until almost parallel with the floor. It’s all peace and quiet while you’re massaged and pampered with your eyes closed. When they’re all finished with you—a beautiful hour and a half later—you arise to perfectly painted nails and toes. You could call this actual beauty sleep.

Stars of the Show:
*Zoya polishes
*Relaxing spa experience
*Naturally sweetened warm tea—it is beyond delicious


Dough Required:
Hiatus Mani-Pedi Retreat/$100 (total with 20% tip = $120)


This Main Street, Grapevine sweet spot serves of wine from the neighoring wine bar while you’re polished and painted.

From the outside, it may look like your run-of-the-mill mani/pedi joint, complete with OPI polishes, access to tanning beds, and a bilingual staff, but it’s not. Owned by husband-and-wife duo, Scott and Heidi Sligar, Pura Vida is an upscale nail spa with an affordable menu. Inspired in part by Heidi’s distaste for the typical nail salon routine (remember that Seinfeld episode about Elaine’s frustrations at the salon?) the Pura Vida experience is notably different. The OPI collection shelved at the front is not all the salon offers. You can get gels—both Axxium and CND Shellac—and soon, Minx. (Heidi plays with the gels herself, to find the best recipe for staying power.) Tools are thrown away after use, so there’s no need to stress about sanitization. Wine from the wine bar next door is served complimentary. (Read: No boring Barefoot.) A hidden gem of the salon is Nikki, the in-house esthetician. I’m typically wary of massages taking place in nail salons, but with the lovely tribal music and Nikki’s magic hands, once I closed my eyes, I could swear I was at an elite hotel spa. Newly built massage rooms and a spa-inspired waiting area make the experience even better.

Stars of the Show:
*Multiple manicure options: Polish, gels, Minx, etc.
*Friendly staff who speak only English on the floor
*30-minute deep tissue massage for $35

Dough Required:
Signature Manicure/$25 and Signature Pedicure/$45 (total with 20% tip = $84)
Standard Manicure/$15 and Standard Pedicure/$25 (total with 20% tip = $48)

This isn’t quite the Dallas setup, but it’s got the same vibe.

I imagined the Red Door as being a too-old, too-conservative salon, probably because of its Elizabeth Arden label. Boy, was I wrong in the nail department. The cheerful  mani/pedi room contained rows of hip, toxin-free Zoya polishes and a gel collection from Harmony called “Gelish,” which had more options than OPI’s Axxium collection. My technician, Aletter (pronounced “uh-letter”–love this name), was able to help me find a combination of gels to offer the perfect nude with a hint of shimmer. Extra touches included the warm neck pillow, complimentary water and tea, and friendly staff throughout the salon. My nail gal even helped me take care of the cut on the bottom of my foot so I could enjoy the pedicure portion. (I witnessed another woman walk in with a freshly chipped toenail, which had been painted that morning. She was greeted with smiles and sent on her way with a repaired piggy in ten minutes.) It was a refreshing experience in customer service.

Stars of the Show:
*Zoya polish collection
*Choice of lotion sensory experience
*Happy technicians

Dough Required:
Signature Manicure/$42 and Signature Pedicure/$70 (total with 20% tip = $134.40)
Warm Cream Manicure/$26 and Warm Cream Pedicure/$55 (total with 20% tip = $97.20)


  • Karen

    Also I like Vspa at the hotel anatole… they have a pedicure for 50 bucks going on this week it is called chocolate almond pedicure with parafin, and you get a day pass to the verandah club (the fitness facility), it is very nice there and quite and calming

  • I have visited Pura Vida salon in Grapevine. The interior is super-luxurious and it offers everything! I highly recommend it.

  • Thank you Raya for the beautiful write-up about Hiatus! I just wanted to note that all H-Circle members pay only $59- $69 for the Mani-Pedi Retreat. All that is needed is an H-Circle membership and you can have this very relaxing service for up to 41% off the non-member pricing of $100. We hope to see you again soon!

  • Kathy

    I am a Hiatus H-Circle Platinum member and let me tell you, what a treat it is! The membership is a steal and I enjoy treating myself monthly (or more) to their fabulous treatments. I also had the best massage of my life there (and I’m a massage “snob” – it beat the Ritz Carlton & Four Seasons hands down)!


    Today thru Sunday- $60 spa package for $30! Check it out!

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