I’m reliably told by my mum and her friends that there was a time when beauty treatments and hair appointments were saved for special occasions, but since these are the people who also tell me that ONE winter coat used to suffice for several cold seasons, I’m not setting too much store by their tales. In any case, nowadays looking your best is an entirely everyday occurrence - some might even say necessity - and given that we live in mad-rush times, it’s only natural that we want to feel pampered and cosseted by by our beauty treatments, but that we also want it all to be delivered with maximum efficiency.
Blush + Blow more than adequately answers this need, housing a blow dry bar and beauty salon under the one luxe roof; conceivably, you could come in for a spray tan, manicure and blow dry, for example - or a wax, lash inserts and makeup - before heading out looking glossily perfect. Sympathetically early opening times also mean that you can roll out of bed looking all kinds of frightful, yet materialise, polished and transformed, at work or a morning meeting.
The salon’s street presence is deceptively understated: the premises extend surprisingly far back beyond the entrance to an unabashedly glam pedicure area, where four regal armchairs are positioned in front of large golden bowls reminiscent of visits to Turkish baths, and lampshades fashioned from curved gold leaves provide a flattering glow. We sank back into the plumply cushioned seats and relaxed while our feet were scrubbed, buffed and preened to perfection; meanwhile Pickles, the resident pooch, alternated between curling up on our laps for some pamper time of his own, and keeping us entertained with his antics on the grey and white tiled floor. Staff were chatty and relaxed, looking agreeably casual but cool in black jeans: groomed enough that you felt you could trust them with your appearance, but not so much that they seemed unapproachable or - perhaps worse - like they’d barely had a client all day and had filled in the time by boredly self-treating. Blow dries take place at the front of the shop; when we dragged ourselves out of the pedi armchairs to the manicure station, we could see women with locks being deftly twisted into elaborate up-dos and swiftly blasted into swish-tastic bounciness. Blow dries can be bought on a blow-by-blow (!) basis or in various money-saving bundles, with unlimited blow dries priced at £165 per month: ideal if you visit twice or more a week.
The beauty rooms and spray tan room are located with reassuring privacy downstairs; disappear down here for waxing and massage, as well as for skin care treatments which follow after a consolation and analysis, for optimum results. The toilet is down here too, and rates a mention because of its opulent black and gold decor; a striking and quirky departure from the soothing greys and blue-greens of the upper floor. Be sure to put the lid down, in order to admire the black cistern, embossed with the salon’s name in bold gold lettering.
Two weeks later, my pedi is still intact, despite hours spent working out and stomping cobbled streets on a weekend break; my gel manicure, in a luscious shade of dark red, has gone the distance as well, although I’m notoriously hard on my hands. More tellingly, though, I find myself musing obsessively over the idea of being affordably blow-dried twice or even three times a week.
Pickles, you’ll be seeing me again.