Local Love: Great Nails & Spa

I met my new friend Lia last Monday at Buyosphere's BeautyXBar brunch, and she showed me her sparkly shellacked nails and told me of this magical place where men massaged your feet and punched your shins for an hour at a time. She warned me that a manicure would come with arm punching so brutal it'd leave bruises and that the massage would reach so high your armpits would get some action... all for under $40. This sounded simultaneously weird and awesome (i.e. my kind of place). I had to check it out for myself.

If you're ever driving on South 1st and see this ho-hum sign
signand spy this "wouldn't- take- a- second- glance- at- it" shopping strip,
greatnailspull your car over immediately and walk through this door:
doorDo not be alarmed by the lack of fancy. Inside Great Nails & Spa, you will find the most affordable, invigorating pedicure and manicure that you have ever experienced.

When I lived in California, I got my nails doen every two weeks without fail. Since moving to Texas and adjusting our family's budget, the first thing on the chopping block was the luxury of a bi-weekly pampering. However, my feet took a serious beating after hoofing it all over town in unwise shoes during SXSW, so I decided to treat myself to a pedicure per Lia's recommendation/ warning. And let me tell you: it was divine.

I walked in at 10a.m. without an appointment. I was asked to pick out my colors (OPI's You're a Pisa Work for my toes and China Glaze's Gold Digger for my fingers). There were seven pedicure chairs and five manicure chairs. All but two pedicure chairs were in use. This place was hopping! Chatty women flipped through magazines, upbeat music played over the speakers, and seven men and two women pampered customers they all seemed to know on a first name basis. My chair was set to knead, my feet were soaked and scrubbed, and my new best friend Denny got to work: pineapple scrub for my legs and feet, clay mask and hot towel treatment for my shins, reflexology for my tired legs and feet, I think I zoned out in bliss... 50 minutes later, he started to polish my nails. feetmask
It was the same deal at the manicure station (minus the clay mask). Lia was right. They punch you here! But it's great! I swear! I observed other women getting punched, but no one seemed bothered by it. No one complained. I wasn't about to wuss out and ask for a lighter touch. No way. I'm glad I did. I felt great afterwards. I still feel great!
Friendly, attentive, staff with strong hands.
So many color choices!
There are no offensive chemically odors here. Really!
Cute fish in an aquarium.
They use tools straight out of the sterilizer-- a fresh set for every client.
Despite the wait, no one here ever seems rushed.
Walking distance to Torchy's.
If you're looking for a serene, quiet "spa-like" environment, this is not the place for you.
Appointment or not, there always seems to be a little bit of a wait (I just lucked out).
If you're in a hurry, this is not your jam.
I recommend getting the manicure after the pedicure (some people opt to have them done at the same time). Prolong the experience if you have time.
Highly recommended.
Two hours later and a $37 tab, my feet are as soft as a baby's butt. My arms and hands are smooth like butter. I also hear that Great Nails & Spa is BYOB. Because of this reason alone, this has already been named as the very first place I'm going to go once Baby 2 comes into the world. Who wants to meet me there in October with a bottle of wine and some fancy cheese?
Great Nails & Spa:
Austin TX 78704