It’s been a while since we wrote about a beauty salon and nail spa in Riyadh. Well that’s because we haven’t really been going to any in Riyadh recently. We were on vacation: Reina in the US and me in the Philippines and like most Filipinos, we go outside Saudi Arabia for our beauty treatments especially when it comes to hair and nails. We find beauty services here expensive and a little bit of wait for the next vacation won’t hurt anyway. Although for nails, we usually go the DIY way or we go to our favorite nail salon in the city.
Recently, we’ve been getting gel polishes for its longevity and shine. I just had one from a nail spa in a mall in the Philippines in time for my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and since I only had one day before my flight to Riyadh after landing from Siem Reap in Manila, I didn’t have time to have my gel polish removed and changed. Right on cue, we were invited by a new spa and lounge in the Diplomatic Quarter here in Riyadh a week ago. We decided to check it out and booked for a mani and pedi with gel polish for me and a trim and hair highlights for Reina.
Villa Blanca Spa and Lounge has a flair for the dramatics. Just by looking at their interiors, I can easily see it as a romantic Parisian salon with its bold yet old glamor look. Their hot pink long back chairs with velvety cushion are so inviting and the vibe is just pure luxe.
I have an issue with the sun on their floor because it doesn’t match the overall vibe of the place but it’s there. It’s probably difficult to redo that. And there’s an actual Starbucks kiosk in their doorstep so it’s easy to get a caffeine fix and some pastry before going to our appointments. Restaurants in the Al Fazzari Plaza like Scalini, Fresh Grills, and Pancake House are around if you’re up for some lunch or dinner, in between beauty services. I doubt people there will bat an eyelash seeing you eating there with some rollers in your hair. Haha.
Anyway, the staff who took care of my nails was a Filipina and it was easy to talk to her about what I want and not want to be done with my nails. For example, I just got them cleaned a few weeks ago and I don’t want my cuticles to be removed during manicure. The same goes for my toe nails. I wanted my nails to be rounded on the tips and she did it well. Her technique was honed yet she was a bit fast in cleaning my nails. She explained though that since my nails are already cleaned, she didn’t want to push further and dig deeper for ingrown that wasn’t there. I love the short massage that came with the full manicure and pedicure.
My only complain is the chair. Pretty as it is, it wasn’t comfortable. Most salons nowadays have lazy boy chairs that can be reclined and can even massage! I would love that here, in hot pink. Is that possible? Haha. Even the platform and basin in front of the chair for pedicure and foot spa made the staff uncomfortable in dealing with my feet and toes. Because they were drilled in place, they can’t be moved and got in the way with the cleaning of my toenails.
They had OPI for gel nails. I’m okay with OPI as it was the same brand used in my nails in the Philippines. The polish lasted three weeks before I saw their edges lifting. The only downside is they only had a few colors of gel polishes. I picked one in a berry red/violet color. They didn’t have electrical sockets on the pink chairs so we had to move to the counter. The gold chair there is beautiful too. The procedure of putting the base coat, the polish, and the top coat were fast. My only gripe was that they used the same UV lamp to cure my polish on my fingernails and toenails! I didn’t see if they sanitized the lamp’s insides before we moved on to my toenails though because I went to the restroom but I am pretty sure they only used one lamp on all of my nails.
My polish came out very nice. It was opaque and shiny. And because it dried fast, I can use my hands immediately and also wear my close shoes as soon as we were done. The staff were friendly and they were easy to talk to. They heeded our requests and even offered their iPhone charger to me when they saw that my phone battery was running low. They even gave us Starbucks iced coffee and croissant. That sealed the deal, haha.
As for Reina’s hair treatment, I’ll let her tell her story:
It’s been a while too, since I got my hair colored or treated. My last major hair color overhaul left me literally dry and brittle so I’ve given it over a year to recover and grow out again. Now that summer is just around the corner, I figured that it’s the right time to be a little extra. Heading to a new hairdresser always come along with a set of anxieties but we have to overcome that by thinking that at the end of the day, if it does not go well, it’s just hair and it will grow back (or shave it all off, haha!). Luckily, I was happy after my hair’s highlight experience.
I researched for the look that I was going for before going to the salon and when I met my hairdresser, Hana, I showed it to her to give her an idea. She was Ethiopian and spoke adequate English (even a little Tagalog) and was assisted by two other girls. I told her that I also wanted a little trim to cut off the last remaining remnants of my last bleach and she did a quick cut of at least 2 inches. After that, they brought out the cutout foils and mixed chemicals and went to town. It took about half an hour to wrap it all in and another half an hour to let it set. Normally, this is the boring part of being in a salon but it helped that they had WiFi to keep me occupied.
When it was time to wash out my hair, I was made to do so in a chair that didn’t seem suitable for hairwashing. As Janelle had noted, they do need some improvements in the furnishing department. And because it took a while for them to “press” the color to my hair even more, I had to stay in it for about thirty minutes which ended up straining my back a bit. They did provide me with a set of towels to help cushion my back but it took some sacrifice to get through to it. As we say in Filipino, “Tiis ganda!” (Beauty takes patience). After the wash, they blowdried my hair and did a final trim and voila…the result was almost exactly what I wanted it to look like! It was worth the two hours I spent.
The next few days made the color pop out even more. My officemates only noticed it three days later, which was a little odd but hey I noticed it right away. I’m very satisfied with the results of the hair treatment and I would say that in case they don’t change their chairs anytime soon, at least provide pillows to make it more comfortable for all of us.
Their prices are fairly the same as any nice salon in Riyadh. One of the staff who worked on other salons before said that the prices at Villa Blanca are even lower compared to those that are outside the DQ. Here are some prices so you can compare them from the salons you frequent and decide for yourself if it’s worthy trying and switching to:
Full Manicure and Pedicure (Normal Polish) – SR 200
Full Manicure and Pedicure (Gel Polish) – SR 300
Eyebrow Shaping – SR 70
Eyebrow Tinting – SR 50
Full Body Wax – SR 250
Bikini + Face Wax – SR 100
Hair Trim – SR 70
Hair Cut – SR 100
Hair Color (Regular) – from SR 300
Hair Color (INOA) – from SR 360
Hair Highlights – SR 300
Since the salon is inside the Diplomatic Quarter, it’s better to make an appointment so that when the guards at the gates ask you where you’re going you can tell them to Villa Blanca. I guess you can also ask an appointment slip from Villa Blanca to show to the guards just in case. Okay then, off to your beauty sessions, ladies!
Villa Blanca Spa and Lounge
Al Fazzari Plaza, Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Operating Hours: 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM