CHICAGO – Patricia Oropeza, senior editor – Located just a few blocks from Michigan Avenue (the Windy City’s equivalent of Beverly Hills’ glitzy Rodeo Drive), Maxine is a full-service salon contained in a modern, three-story, light gray building. Each floor houses a different section of the salon. Nails are on the third floor, hair services are on the first and second floors, and the spa is on the basement level.

The day of my visit, a construction crew was hard at work renovating part of the second floor, which will be the nail room’s new location in a few months. The nail department is currently housed in a long rectangular room that can be hard to maneuver in at times, says spa director Bonnie Canavino. The new location will be larger and shaped differently, making it easier to accommodate the salon’s 11 nail technicians, eight pedicure chairs, and nine nail stations. The third floor will be converted into owner Maxine Kroll’s personal penthouse.

Although the room will be new, the décor will still maintain the clean, modern, and minimalist look that is visible throughout the salon. And Maxine’s signature nail services will also remain. Although the salon offers the same services throughout the year, Bonnie says the focus changes throughout the months – just like the Chicago weather. During this time of year, services like the White Chocolate Mint Manicure, which comes complete with a cup of hot cocoa, are popular.

Since the salon is located in a high-end area, you’d expect to find equally ritzy clients inside. But all types of clients – ranging from working professionals to teenagers – frequent the salon. And even men visit the salon for services. (The day of my visit, a male client was enjoying a pedicure.) Interesting touches like a unique retail display featuring handbags designed by one of the salon’s employees are more than likely a major part of Maxine’s attraction – not to mention the extensive service menu.

Although it was hard deciding what service to go with, I finally opted for the Vanilla Nut Hot Oil Manicure. I was more than happy to dunk my cold fingers in the warm vanilla, nut, and peppermint-scented concoction. My nail technician, Simona Bratuianu, who hails from Romania and has been at Maxine for six years, made me feel right at home with her warm demeanor. The warm, inviting atmosphere and my perfectly polished nails managed to warm me up.


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