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 Urban Strategist
Stretch Your Wallet
Top-notch hairstylists, manicurists, masseurs, and pore-cleansers who will rub you and your bank account the right way.
Dance of the tiny Japanese masseuse: At Salon de Tokyo, the all-important back walk costs only $70.

Salon de Tokyo
200 West 57th Street, Room 1308

Behind a nondescript door in a nondescript building is one of the best Shiatsu parlors in town. A mere $70 buys you an hour, including the all-important back walk. The therapist suspends herself from a rod in the ceiling, allowing her to control the pressure applied to your back, and takes direction from you.
Monday-Saturday. Credit cards accepted. Appointment necessary.

Sol Jade Lady Spa
4 West 33rd Street

Possibly the city's best-kept secret, this basement-level, women-only spa offers a 90-minute treatment for $100: A steam is followed by a loofah scrub, a sauna, and a cucumber face mask; then come rubdowns with oil, seaweed emollient, and milk. The finale is a fabulous shampoo and scalp massage. Forget modesty, as you'll share a room with at least two others during busy hours.
Open daily. Cash only. Appointment necessary.

Madison Towers Health Spa
22 East 38th Street, third floor

Virtually the same procedure as that at Salon de Tokyo, for $75 an hour. While the walls are a little thin (we heard another client yammering away in the next room), the practitioners are skilled. Afterward, you're taken to the Hot Floor Room, where you plop down on a bamboo mat and just let it all sink in.
Monday-Saturday. Credit cards accepted. Appointment suggested.

Sal Anthony Movement Salon
190 Third Avenue
Sal Anthony's empire near Union Square includes, somewhat inexplicably, this fitness studio (two studios, actually) in a landmarked building. Here you can get a $55 one-hour rubdown ($85 for 90 minutes) from therapists versed in Swedish, Shiatsu, and Thai massage. Book an appointment before January 31 and it'll cost you only $50.
Open daily. Credit cards accepted. Appointment necessary.

Wu Lim Services
145 Grand Street
One of the many basement-level Chinese massage parlors that downtown worker bees can walk into for stress-relieving rubdowns, staying fully clothed (just don't wear linen). There are several beds in the room; massages are sold in odd-minute increments: $7 for 10 minutes; $11 for 16 minutes; $21 for 31 minutes; $32 for 46 minutes; $42 for 61 minutes.
Open daily. Credit cards accepted. Walk-ins welcome.


SoHo Nail
458 West Broadway, third floor
A favorite of fashionistas, SoHo Nail boasts possibly the least expensive ($20) quality manicure-pedicure in town. But you'll pay in other ways, namely the time spent air-drying afterward, as this joint owns no drying machines. Ask for Lucy or the owner, Susan Kang. They're favorites of SoHo Nail regulars.
Open Monday-Saturday. Credit cards accepted. Appointment suggested.

Bloomie Nails
132 Seventh Avenue (212-366-4545)
170 West 23rd Street (212-741-0105)
294 Eighth Avenue (646-638-2727)

The faithful flock to Bloomie Nails for relaxing pedicures in heated, pulsating massage chairs and mini-screens at the drying stations playing VH1. Considering that the manicure-pedicure is $35 ($3 extra for razor-scraping of your soles), it's no wonder the places are often packed. Kamala Gurung and Cindy Lee work wonders at the Seventh Avenue location; Mickey Youn is the pedicurist extraordinaire at the Eighth Avenue shop.
Open daily. Credit cards for services over $20. Walk-ins welcome.


Irene & Lucy
223 East 74th Street

A small spot on the Upper East Side known among the Birkenstock-wearing and the Birkin-bag-carrying alike for fabulous, thorough waxes. Eyebrow, $7; half-leg, $17; full leg, $39; bikini, $15 to $25; underarm, $10; arm, $20.
Tuesday-Saturday. Cash only. Appointment necessary.

Randee Elaine
180 Seventh Avenue
The menu of services here lists twenty body areas that Randee Elaine will wax (other areas are negotiable), with prices ranging from $7 for chin or eyebrow to $30 for full leg with bikini. No body-hair issue is too embarrassing to be discussed and dealt with, which makes this place exceedingly popular with men.
Open daily. Credit cards accepted.
Appointment suggested.


Monhair Salon
553 Third Avenue
Liz Smith is a regular at this no-frills salon, which gets good reviews for all services (especially blow-outs). But regulars rave about Miriam Shimunova's facials ($65), which are, says one, "like having your mom do your facial." In other words, gentle but firm.
Open daily. Credit cards accepted. Walk-ins welcome.

Mario Badescu
320 East 52nd Street
Seems like Badescu should be pricey, yet the 75-minute European facial is only $65. Naomi Campbell and Martha Stewart swear by it: a deep-pore cleansing, with the added bonus of a warming, moisturizing hand treatment. Ask for Corina Oprisiu.
Open daily. Credit cards accepted. Appointment necessary.

Origins Feel-Good Spa
Chelsea Piers
It's a bit out of the way, but once you've had a "Time Goes By Uplifting Facial" at the hands of Nina Posylkin ($85), you'll be hooked. Posylkin uses low-intensity microcurrents — a low-tech, largely forgotten electrical treatment. Afterward, take advantage of a steam and sauna in the adjoining locker room.
Open daily. Credit cards accepted. Appointment necessary.


Photograph by Scott Jones.  


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