Super-posh bargain where you might not expect it …

The best value manicure in town right now has to be the £20.00 shape and paint at the Chanel pop-up shop in Covent Garden, surely? Chanel at Covent GardenOK, so they don’t touch your ragged cuticles (would you want them to lower themselves to this: they’re Chanel after all!) but they do spend a whole 30 minutes making even hideous claws like mine look fantastic.

Advance booking is required, but this is a V GOOD THING as it took me a couple of days to decide which polish I wanted to try. I shortlisted Black Satin, Pirate, and Rose Confidentiel (also a super-amazing silver I found at Boots Liverpool Street that seems to have been old stock) and STILL changed my mind at the very last minute.

Manicures take place in the nailbar in the shop basement. Once your paws are in place on the velvet cushion (how very Choupette I felt, doing that) then you can relax and listen to the Chanel-Paris-HQ-endorsed CD, or yak away to your lovely manicurist as I did.

Serious filing gave me the short, square nails I’d requested (not the broken, uneven mix of ovals and squares I’d arrived with). Maria then worked in Chanel Body Excellence Nourishing and Rejuvenating Hand Cream (which is sold online with the tagline ‘A glove of beauty for your hands’ : copy-writing worthy of the great and much-missed Club de Createurs de Beauté). At this point I’d have been happy enough to walk out all whistling and relaxed for my £20 spend, but of course, my nails were then due a quick whisk of Chanel polish remover, and a base coat. I was too blissed out to check whether I was getting Base Protectrice or Base Lissante.

Two coats of April expertly applied give a depth of colour and shine that I was happy with, but Laque Brillance Extrême over the top made them look amazing. Chanel use a product from a different company to dry the nails quickly – I guess ladies that can afford the whole kit to Chanel their nails at home have the time to loll about admiring them as they dry …

I got to admire myself in the mirrors whilst my beautiful younger companion had her nails done in Quartz. NB taking a beautiful younger companion around with you is a v. good idea, as it makes you feel wise and benevolent like Doctor Who. It also means that impressionable young men give you free stuff in shops and bars.

And THIS IS THE BEST BIT – the £20.00 you spent on the manicure is REDEEMABLE AGAINST PRODUCT. So effectively, my Illusion D’Ombre (in Emerveillé, in case you were wondering) only cost £3.00 … and THAT is why I think this is the best value manicure in town.Illusion D'Ombre in Emerveillé

Even if you don’t want your talons touched up, the pop-up shop is worth a visit just because Chanel do things so well … it’s all glossy black cabinets and mirrors, and you know how greengrocers set their prettiest cauliflowers out in little crates? Chanel have done a take on this with their polishes. So you stop thinking ‘I want one nail varnish in every colour’ and begin to crave sixteen identical polishes displayed in a gorgeous cube … Also, I have until now been of the opinion that black jeans make everyone – including Karl Lagerfeld and Kate Moss – look like they are en route to a meeting of the Socialist Workers’ Party. But the staff at the pop-up shop look utterly gorgeous in them. And for this magic alone, go see.

http://popupstore.chanel.com/coventgarden/flash/index.html