LAST SATURDAY, on a very grey, overcast and generally autumnal morning, I made my way into Fitzrovia to check out Pall Mall Barbers. At 10am, London had barely come alive yet. A few lone people wandered around Fitzroy Square, walking dogs, or clutching newspapers.
I was early, so after wandering aimlessly for a little while, I made my way through the door of Pall Mall Barbers. I was presented with a decidedly more ‘folksy’ affair than the other barbers I’ve visited recently, and this was by no mean unwelcome. Two people were already in the chairs ahead of me, and I happily sat for a short while with a coffee and watched the barbers work.
Pall Mall Barbers date back to 1896, and they definitely have a bit of an ‘old school’ feel about them. The wood-panelled walls, barbers pole outside, all build up this perception of your local, trusty barbershop. Which is very much how I perceived it. My trips to Penhaligon’s, The Bulgari or Gentlemen’s Tonic have all been absolutely fantastic, but each has felt quite ‘buttoned up’ in one way or another. They feel like special occasion places, where you visit intermittently. Pall Mall Barbers feels the opposite: you feel like it’s a place you can drop into every couple of weeks, and leave groomed and styled without any of the pretense.
I started off getting my hair cut with Cara, and to be honest, it was probably one of the best cuts I’ve had. After a week or so, it’s growing into its style nicely, and is relatively effortless to get it looking as if I’ve just left Pall Mall Barbers time and time again. Cara was great fun, too – we settled into an easy patter, and chatted away as she cut my hair.
Then it was onto my shave with Gani. Rather than a lather, he used some of Pall Mall Barbers’ own beard oil to prep me for the shave (since, given the beard, I only have a relatively small area of face to shave). I’ve got a sample of the beard oil, and will be writing about it in more detail later.
Next came the hot towel (my favourite bit), which Gani spritzed with a bit of Pall Mall Barbers’ cologne – a nice touch, I thought. I seriously love hot towel shaves. There’s just something so relaxing about it, and I always feel invigorated as the cooling towel is unwrapped from my face.
Gani then set to work trimming and shaping my beard; expertly wielding his cut-throat razor to whip my face furniture into touch. Of all the barbers I’ve seen thus far, he was the only one to combine his blade and a comb into some sort of manual razor, letting it glide over the top of my beard to nip the tops off any stragglers. Impressive.
Then, after an hour so, I was left to make my way back into the grey. I enjoyed my trip to Pall Mall Barbers, and immediately felt at home there. I think this is what I liked most about it – the lack of pretense – the feeling that you can just drop in, and pick up immediately where you left off on your last trip with any one of the friendly team.
Pall Mall Barbers Fitzrovia
45 Fitzroy Street