Baku’s got Talons

The Nail Spa, ISR Plaza, 69 Nizami Street, Baku  

Tel: (+994 12) 598 1857

Yes, indeed it has, and in more ways than one, but let’s focus on our own here, Ladies. Any men reading this, you are excused. Please go and watch your favourite sports programme on TV and just skip this post. It will hold absolutely no interest for you, I promise, and next time, we’ll be back to the subject of food again. Go on! Chop chop!

In my very early days in Baku, I visited a well-known salon where I was subjected to all sorts of expensive torture, manhandled by a huge Russian woman who looked like a baddie in a James Bond film, while the rest of the staff stood in a circle around me, staring, gossiping and sniggering. I left, quite stunned, with the skin ripped off my upper lip and eyebrows, following a waxing treatment, and smudged uneven toe and finger nails which had endured a wiping off of the first two coats and two ineffectual reapplications, all for a cool AZN80. It doesn’t do a lot for your confidence, I can assure you, to introduce yourself to potential new friends with a scab moustache and messy claws! Possibly not the best look in the world and I certainly wasn’t going to repeat that experience! What to do?

I, for one, am not great at doing my own mani/pedis. Maybe it’s because I am fidgety and impatient, maybe it’s because my own nail varnish always seems sticky or too slow to dry, I don’t know. My husband, a surgeon and therefore rather good at the finer detail, seemed the obvious solution. If he could neatly cut and sew delicate skin and muscle, he could also apply himself to my beauty needs, or so I thought. Well, that was a most erroneous assumption, I can tell you! We did end up in fits of giggles but it did little for my beautification. And anyway, painting nails may be one thing but honestly, dead skin abrasion and facial caterpillar removal are best done out of sight of one’s other half. After all, we’d like them to think that we wake up every morning looking dewy fresh and pretty, smelling of roses, don’t we? Some things are best kept private; the feminine mystique and all that.

Saw this on Facebook and thought it was very funny!

Luckily for my husband and my then potential future friends, I came across the Nail Spa on the ground floor of the ISR Plaza office building on Nizami Street just by Fountain Square. A throwback to the 80s, it looks quite outdated with its slightly dubious black leatherette chairs, zebra stripes and lipstick pink shop fitting. Sleek and chic it certainly isn’t and it’s definitely more nail than spa but what it lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in professionalism. These girls know what they’re doing! The fabulous Irana does excellent, fast and almost entirely painless threading as well as a tip top manicure, neat, tidy and long lasting. Her command of English is impressive and, oh bliss, she remembers your preferences. You want your nails filed in an oval shape instead of square? You don’t want your cuticles cut? Irana registers this as well as your favourite varnish colours and the information never has to be repeated. Can you believe that? Here in Baku? It’s a total joy and makes you feel so well looked after!

The Nail Spa at ISR Plaza
The Nail Spa at ISR Plaza

Under Irana’s instruction, another young lady tackles your feet, gently but thoroughly. Afterwards, they sit you in front of built in drying lamps for hands and feet respectively and don’t allow you to leave until your varnish is properly dry and you’re good to go.

The Nail Spa at ISR Plaza
The Nail Spa at ISR Plaza

The implements, towels, toe dividers and disposable flip flops are scrupulously clean, sterile and on a strictly single use basis. The Nail Spa offers various treatments including hot paraffin wax for hands and feet and, quite new to me, the wonderful NMP+ impregnated gloves and socks with phyto keratin and copaiba oil but without alcohol, colouring, triclosan or parabens, which come with their own disposable manicure or pedicure set, for salon or home use. I’m a big fan as they leave your skin peachy soft and well hydrated.

IMG_3448There’s a very broad nail colour palette by Esse, OPI and Orly brands including, of course, French manicure, and Shellac, too. Aside from mani/pedis and threading, there are also all manner of waxing treatments available which I have not tried. The mind rather boggles at buttock waxing….perhaps that’s part of what’s known as back, sack and crack for gentlemen in the UK. Ouch! But I have never seen a man coming out of the beauty therapy room, least of all one who had trouble walking. A further separate small room with a single chair seems to be set up as a hairdressing room but again, this is well beyond my experience. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to try it one day.

The Nail Spa may not be a natural destination for luxury pampering but they do what it says on the tin to high spec and, to my great appreciation, there’s no faffing about. You go, they sort you out, you leave. Bingo!


The prices are roughly in line with what I pay in the UK but, in actual fact, the result is better here. The Nail Spa has three branches in Baku, one at ISR Plaza where the wonderful Irana works and others at Park Hyatt Hotel and Park Bulvar Mall and it is open six days a week.

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