So for the impatient likes of me, Shellac is a god-send. The manicure lasts for about 2 weeks. Your nails do not scratch, break, chip or loose their lustre. It's like have a perfect set of acrylics, with the bonus of healthy and protected nails. The special gel polish is placed for a few seconds under a UV lamp and sets to form a hard shiny surface.
There are not many places in London that do Shellac, but a quick google search will tell you where. Many thanks to my friend Mary, who gave me the heads-up on this, after coming back from the States with perfect nails.