Upscale spas that offer mani-pedis encourage customers to linger and take a load off—anywhere from 30 to 75 minutes for one treatment, during which you can sit under soft, flattering light and sip white tea. You might also get fancy foot soaks, hand and foot massages, and paraffin dips—but you’ll also pay a mint for it (from $25–$50 for manicures and $30–$90 for pedicures). Corner nail salons, on the other hand, concentrate on no-frills, speedy service in a sterile-at-best environment. So if you can forgo an aromatic foot soak in a blissful environment for a solid polish job at a nothing-special storefront, these mani-pedi deals are for you.
New York Nail Spa ($35)
Located near the UIC campus, this place is pristine and inviting. Most important, “a manicure lasts about a week, a pedi, about two and a half—longer during winter,” says Erin Bell, 30, a regular who lives in Lakeview. You won’t have to wait if you go from 4 to 6pm on weekdays, she says. If you do end up waiting, unwind watching E! on the plasma TV. 915 W Washington St, 312-455-1888
Lumera ($32; Monday–Thursday $28)
This Lakeview spot is glam-deficient, and a mani-pedi takes more than an hour—about 20 minutes longer than most places we’ve visited—but Anjali Bidani, 33, heads here because its manicures endure the elements. “Even after cooking, walking the dog and doing chores, it lasts longer than most.” Go in the morning, she says, because the place fills up after work. 2950 N Clark St, 773-975-3508.
Elite Nail Salon ($32)
This quiet, small Gold Coast shop features just two spa pedi chairs, but 37-year-old Lisette Pepol treks here regularly from her South Loop home. Though she won’t divulge how often she visits (“It’s embarrassing!”), she does have a go-to nail technician: Tammy. “She’s precise—a perfectionist,” Pepol says. “She never misses a spot, knows the colors I like and is really fast.” 8 E Walton St, 312-642-1506.
Old Town Nails ($32; Monday, Tuesday $28)
Recently outfitted with plush spa chairs, this place buzzes on Friday afternoons. Jennifer Martindale, 32, likes its high-grade, in-and-out-in-under-an-hour service. “The polish lasts at least a week without noticeably chipping,” she says. They’re friendly, too. “This is the only spot I’ve found that remembers you by name.” 1433 N Wells St, 312-266-1614.