Perspectives of a Lady, Gentleman & Dane

The Barber-spa Experience

Brian McCarthy

During our time in Charleston Hannah had been teasing me with a promise of something scheduled for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon.  When the time finally came she left me with the address and left to run her errands.  I walked to the address and found myself in front of Gent’s Barber-spa.  I called Hannah to confirm, as I had just had my haircut a week before.  She confirmed the location and told me to just go ahead in.  I walked in and the spa’s host greeted me by name and offered a drink while I wait for my massage.  “Massage?” I thought incredulously as I looked around the place.  The place had a nice combination of old school charm and modern equipment.  Massage rooms, barber chairs, TVs, a shoe shine station, pool table and bar were just some of the features I noticed before I was being treated to a great deep tissue massage.  Overall the experience was solid and got me interested in other barber-spas and what they were all about.  If you’re interested here’s the run down.

These places are not your typical barber shops.  Expect to make an appointment and expect to pay twice as much as you normally would, thankfully for guys it’s really not that much anyways.  But what you get in return will probably make you a convert.

The essentials of the barber-spa experience are:

  • A Good Haircut
  • Drink in Hand
  • Comfortable Couch & TV
  • Massage
  • Shoe Shine

The haircut is the most important aspect, there’s a reason they’re called barber-spas.  The person cutting your hair has to know you and what you like.  “Keep it tight above the ears, clean around the beard and enough to style on top.” I’ve said that exact line to a dozen barbers and gotten 2 dozen different hair cuts.  I know what I want, I’m just not good at describing it so having someone who will take the time to get it just right is essential.  My last cut was a first time visit to The Pewter Club and without exaggeration I was in the chair for 45 minutes while Walter worked his way towards perfection.  This guy mixes his own lathers and waxes and really knows what he’s doing.  I was finally sold when he brought up a Turkish technique of singing the hair off of the ears with a flame.  Don’t be afraid, it works.  This attention to detail is to be expected at any shop calling itself a barber-spa.

Second to the haircut is the feeling that you’re welcome and comfortable.  I don’t drink but I can certainly appreciate the gesture of offering someone a drink on the house as they arrive.  I want to sit down have a beer, or coffee in my case, and watch the game on TV while they get ready for me.  And here is where style comes into play.  The place has to look nice.  It’s all about self image and I don’t want to be sitting on some ikea furniture flipping through some old magazines.  This is where a place like the Old South Barber Spa really nails it. Leather chairs, wood floors and a fireplace to just bring it all together.

If you’ve really found some time then add a massage to your visit.  Why not look good and feel good too.  Once again a masseuse who will take the time to figure out what you want what you and need out of the process will make it well worth the expense.

Now that your hair is just right and you’re feeling limber have a seat and add on a good shoe shine. A good shine is, in my opinion, an often overlooked aspect to a man’s wardrobe.  It’s kind of like the lowest common denominator, if you’re hair’s a mess or your shoes are scuffed up then it’ll just bring you down no matter how stylish you are.

Two hours later and it’s back to the grind, except now you’re looking and feeling your best.  Enjoy and let me know if you’ve had the pleasure of visiting one of these establishments.

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