An unexpected oasis in an otherwise dodgy slice of the city—the spa keeps its doors locked during business hours—Soul Day Spa provides earthy indulgences like Tahitian body polishes and milk-and-honeysuckle pedicures for downtown girls.
Soul, which opened in July, inhabits a converted brownstone on the corner of Florida Avenue and North Capitol Street, with three floors of pristine but low-tech treatment rooms done up in browns and creams. On two levels are spa areas; on the second floor is a four-station hair studio specializing in African-American styles.
When I arrived for a pedicure on a Wednesday afternoon, my nail technician was waiting at the door to escort me in from a pouring rain. I hadn’t parked far; I was in an empty gravel lot next door. Nicole—the owner, who occasionally doubles as receptionist—welcomed me warmly and offered me juice or tea.
My pedicure was done in an oversize armchair laden with jeweled pillows concealing a vibrating back massager, which was not as relaxing as the pedicure itself. (It felt like I was sitting over a Metro station.) My technician, who did not speak English very well, filled a copper tub with smooth stones, rose petals, cranberries, and warm water, then spiked the brew with the most delicious-smelling pomegranate-scented oil—which stayed with me through the rest of the day.
The selection of nail polish was good, but sparse, and the nail technician didn’t seem to fully understand a few requests I made. The sugar scrub and lower-leg massage were highlights.
Although Soul’s brochure states that guests who book nail services will be required to purchase their own nail kits (to be stored at the salon) for a one-time $10 fee, none of this was mentioned to me, nor did it show up on my bill.
To develop a client base, Soul runs specials such as 20 percent off all services on your first visit. With deals like these and a little polishing of rough edges, Soul could soon be crowded on rainy Wednesday afternoons.