City Paper is not for tourists
In general, there are two categories of waxing establishments in D.C.: cheap salons and expensive spas. The temptation to lean toward the affordable option is strong, given the high cost of regular upkeep. At Hela Spa in Georgetown, a basic bikini wax is $45. Ouch! Over on Columbia Road, though, the cutthroat competition at little nail shops has lowered the cost of a basic pruning to about $20. The only problem, is, well, quality. You really can’t complain when you get an uneven hoo-ha for cheap, but accidents with hot wax and linen strips can have emergency-room consequences. Fortunately, there is a happy medium. Rose Gui opened the Shangri-La Day Spa on U Street a year and a half ago. She’s incorporated some of the accouterments of tonier salons: soothing music, low lights, clean spaces. And she keeps prices just a little higher than the cheap nail shacks. The basic bikini is just $30. Rose learned her craft in Hong Kong and takes great pride in training her staff. Her aestheticians excel at the two hallmarks of the trade: working fast and getting it all. Perhaps Rose’s skill at finding the perfect balance comes from her upbringing in the real Shangri La, a county in the Yunnan Province of Southwest China that renamed itself after the fictional paradise in 2001.