A shave at the barber

Call me inexperienced but I’d never had a shave at the barber before. I’d just used a decent razor (the new Gilettes give a close shave but are pricey), a bit of shave oil and some gel or cream, and got on with it.

Then we were having the bathroom done a couple of weeks ago and suddenly a morning shave was an epic experience. First, get in early enough so the workmen weren’t around (OK, I’m a home worker, I usually have the luxury of waiting until everyone’s out). Then see which taps are working, whether the basin’s connected to a waste pipe…

So I went to a newish barber that’s set up in our area, The Valet (not a sponsored link, I’m getting nothing for this I promise). Near me, on the Addiscombe Road, this is more than a barber – it has a full treatment room for blokes wanting facials, massages and other treatments, but I wasn’t in the market for that on this occasion. I sat down, was brought a coffee (could have had a beer or wine but it was a little early and I had the car), and looked through the bloke’s fashion mags and newspapers on offer.

I wasn’t kept waiting for my turn in spite of it being a busy Saturday and their squeezing me in as I’d booked on the day. The shave itself was a bit of a revelation. You can read about the Hot Towels Deluxe shave on the company’s own website but I had my head wrapped in a number of lemon-scented hot towels, two lather shaves with an open razor (sounds so much less intimidating than “cutthroat” but there was no blood!), finishing off with a tepid towel to close the pores up again, a face massage and some moisturiser. I’d left by the time I realised they’d overlooked the splash of cologne at the end but wasn’t all that worried.

It was possibly even more soothing than the facial I had last year and which I blogged on here, and that’s not a comment on the facial. The company was good and less rushed than my usual hairdresser in spite of the amount of people they had to get through; the background music was there but quieter, there was a screen with news headlines running in real time beside every barber’s chair. I suppose I felt a little more relaxed because unlike most hairdressers or indeed the spa where I had my facial the ambiance was pretty male-oriented here (some of the stylists and from the look of it senior management were female – I stress this is a question of ambience, not sexism). It took around 45 minutes, I could have stayed a great deal longer.

My wife informed me that my face was smoother than she’d seen it before (and she’s known me since I was 13) and the skin clearer; I felt thoroughly pampered and half-built bathrooms were literally miles away.

On checking I find that I can have all of the above plus a haircut for less than I normally spend on a cut at Rush in Croydon. My wife has asked me what I’d like for Valentine’s Day – it’s very simple, just pick the phone up and book me in.

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