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Why I can swear by Shanghainese pedicure

By: - Columnist
/ 04:08 AM July 27, 2012

SAMUEL So, master pedicurist at the Mandarin Salon in Hong Kong. He comes from a long line of Shanghainese pedicurists.

Entering the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s Barber Shop on the second floor is like walking into elegant Old Shanghai—one of the last few places that still does wet shaves with straight blades, lather, badger hair brushes and hot towels.

The interior is your usual rosewood-clad interiors with mosaic floors, stained glass, leather and suede club chairs, chesterfields, and white and black Carrara marble—reminiscent of the golden 1920s and 1930s. There are nice dim yellow lights and a wall lined with carefully selected books.


You are immediately offered a seat and a drink by Donna (Barber Concierge).

Upon entering the Private Pedicure Room, you will be put at ease by the gentle demeanor of Ben Cheung, master pedicurist.


As you try to relax, the sight of a row of scalpels frightens you a bit. But I assure you there will be zero pain. No more than a tickle. Ben will expertly rid your feet of painful callouses, rough skin, corn and ingrown toenails even as you sleep.

After an hour of soaking, scrubbing and scraping, you shall emerge with baby-pink feet, not wanting to step on the ground to preserve its tingling feel!

In some cases, the feet can actually be smoother/softer than one’s face! (If I could have walked with my hands, I would have.)

PRIVATE pedicure room

On the 24th-floor salon, you shall also find Samuel So, master pedicurist. Samuel is the third member of his family to work as a Shanghai pedicurist. His father So Yan-Ko worked at the Mandarin Oriental from 1988 until his retirement in 1996, his elder brother Simon So from 1984 to 1988.

Samuel and Ben joined the Mandarin in 2007.

Handed down through generations

The Shanghainese Pedicure is a craft that is taken seriously and actually handed down through many generations.


Using centuries-old Chinese medical techniques, this treatment requires many years of training to master the required precision and gentle handling.


In Chinese medical belief, the well-being of the feet is given importance, it being the location of many stress points in acupuncture. Feet are often neglected, but they do require regular care for that feeling of general well-being. Samuel So says, “Healthy feet are essential for a healthy outlook.”

A little tip: As a regular customer, if you come on your birthday, be prepared for a wonderful surprise. The Mandarin Oriental has truly mastered the art of care and service!

The Shanghainese Pedicure is a must! It’s for foot health, not vanity. Find out for yourself and compare it to a western pedicure. I’d like to hear what you think.


The Shanghainese Pedicure costs HK$700 for 60 minutes. You must book way, way in advance. Call The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong at  (852) 2825-4088; e-mail

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TAGS: Lifestyle, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Shanghainese Pedicure
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