Guest article by Mandy Heintzelman Smith
This is not a scientific conclusion, but over the last five months of living in Austin, I’ve noticed there’s a huge demand for services at local high-end nail salons. When my mother-in-law was in town, I wanted to take her and my little girl to a beautiful, cozy nail salon and make it an experience. I called around to all of the best reviewed salons, and it wasn’t until my fourth try that I could find an appointment for three people.
I now know to call one to two weeks in advance if I have a particular time and day in mind, and at least a day or two in advance if my schedule is flexible. That being said, here are five high-end nail salons in downtown Austin or Westlake that I’d highly recommend.
1/ Milk + Honey
Milk + Honey is so relaxing. My gel nails and pedi polish stayed really well, and I enjoyed the citrus spa water and 2nd Street District location, where you can look out the window and be in the middle of it all.
I was a little late for this appointment, but I still got the full service. Plan for a little extra time, as it’s one technician for both mani and pedi. Also remember that you’ll need to find street or garage parking at the downtown location.
Milk + Honey has multiple locations in Austin. The Arboretum location is currently the only one that doesn’t offer nail service, but a full spa is scheduled to launch there this year.
Multiple locations – Website
I’ve had my nails done a few times at LACQUER Downtown (there is also a LACQUER North location near The Domain). I’ve also had a mini facial, which was lovely. I love that the team validates parking, offers champagne and tea, and offers a beautiful, clean, vibrant environment.
To conserve water during pedicures, expect your feet to be wrapped in spa towels in prep for your treatment. Part of me is like, “Yay, eco-friendly!” But my inner diva is all, “Bring back the water!” It’s fabulous here, water or not.
210 Guadalupe St. and 11005 Burnet Road – Website
3/ Allure Nails
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When I was in a pinch and arrived too late to have my service at one of my other favorite nail salons, Allure took me in. My gels had peeled off of a few fingernails and I wanted to preserve the length of my own nails. Allure took off my gels and gave me a great gel manicure that lasted a full two weeks.
It was clean, friendly, and I’d go back in a heartbeat. It’s a more traditional nail salon, conveniently located in an adorable shopping center with Randall’s and Starbucks. Oh, and it has perfect Yelp reviews.
3300 Bee Caves Road, Unit 210 – Facebook
4/ Enfield Nails
One day, after finishing up yoga at CorePower in downtown Austin, I had some extra time and wanted to get my nails done. I called around to every nail salon within a five-mile radius. But everyone was booked.
Great for them–there’s such a high demand!
I tried one more highly-reviewed location, Enfield Nails. They said they could squeeze me in if I got there right away. It’s a traditional nail salon, super clean and bright, and I got a great gel manicure that also lasted a full two weeks.
916 W. 12th St. – Facebook
Now with three locations throughout Austin, Embellish is one of my favorite nail salon experiences. The team heats up a lavender neck pillow during your service, and you’ll see movies you forgot you loved. There’s also an adorable boutique with super cute gifts, candles, flip flops, jewelry, and more.
This is one place where you definitely need to have your appointment scheduled ahead of time, and arrive on time. Hands and feet are done separately, though it doesn’t seem to take more time. Maybe that’s because I never want to leave when I’m there.
Multiple locations – Website
Tips for Having the Best Experience at These Austin Nail Salons
Here are a few tips (pun not intended!) for Austin’s coveted nail salons that are a little different for me, coming from Los Angeles and always arriving fashionably late:
- Be punctual, people! Seriously, you’ll need to arrive on time to these salons. Depending on where you go, parking in a garage or a packed lot can take an extra couple minutes. Most salons I spoke with will honor the appointment for up to 10 to 15 minutes, but I’ve had a salon turn me away for being that late, and another skip my massage entirely because of my tardiness. You gotta respect that these places are in high demand.
- Many of the salons in Austin call gel nails “shellac.” Know the lingo. There’s also a big focus on more natural gel nails, and I’ve found some stay put better than others. I think it’s just trial and error for what works with your nails, but with three kids and my hands always in bath water, sink water, etc., I’ve found Orly is the best match for my nail type and lifestyle.
- Book your appointment in advance. While some salons do take walk-ins, my experience has been that you need an appointment to get a mani-pedi, especially if it’s close to a holiday.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What Austin nail salon do you recommend, and why?
Mandy Heintzelman Smith is a writer and mommy of three. Visit her personal blog at politeasfudge.com.