Before I moved from London I always managed to get my hair cut for less than a tenner. It became a badge of honour and the gaff nearest to my place of work came in at £9.50. Imagine my horror, therefore, when a trendy new-fangled barbers called Three Chairs Grooming opened in my new home-town of Princes Risborough last year. This place was SURE to be out of my price range.
It was ‘cool’, it had smoky windows, trendy retro branding and seemed a bit out of kilter with some of the shops in Risborough which cater for a more traditional (shall we say) audience. Being old beyond my years, I scuttled past. But my interest had been pricked, and I kept slowing as I passed the dark, inconspicuous, almost hidden front door. There’s nothing like a mystery door to get my imagination running wild.
My wife bit the bullet for me and got me a £40 voucher for this mysterious grooming parlour as a Christmas present. £40 = 4 trips to the barbers, right? So that’s my annual budget on hair cuts. Job done! Well, not quite. I turned up last week, a little self-conscious and a LOT ungroomed.
Up the stairs I climbed and entered into an archetypal man cave. This was NOT a barbers. This was a bar, a club, an oak-lined study. This place had a pool table, brilliant music, massive pictures of the Rolling Stones and even an area which was selling vintage men’s clothing. At the far end were three huge barbers chairs, three customers, three young barbers dressed in black and the whole thing looked slick and smooth.
I sank into one of the huge leather armchairs and took my pick of that day’s daily papers and a few contemporary mags. An assistant asked me if I fancied a craft beer. It was barely 11 am and I politely declined (and regretted it immediately). Instead I had a courtesy fresh cappucino.
When time came for my haircut I was momentarily disappointed: I was just settling in and could have read the papers and dozed in luxury surroundings all day long.
I began with a shampoo and head massage of sorts. My gran used to have these before they put her hair in those giant helmets for an hour or two. There were no giant helmets (so to speak) but this place had all the paraphernalia of an old school barbers right here in 2016.
They scissored away, telling me all about the modern day male grooming experience. All my inhibitions were suspended and I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to play on the pool table in one of the eave-attic rooms, I wanted a beer (I was offered, again!), I wanted to read Esquire. I wanted to be cool. But the parking meter was running out and I couldn’t take the risk.
I was in for about 45 minutes in all and it came to £25. The old me would have baulked at the very idea of spending this portion of time and cash at a barbers. But this experience was everything that my £9.50 London McHaircuts weren’t. It was dark and moody and contemporary. 3 barbers in a cool and comfortable space, not 40 packed into a condensation filled hat box. A relaxed, friendly vibe rather than the hostility I was accustomed to, when queueing for a quick short-back-and-sides.
All in all, a wonderful experience at the hands of passionate, professional guys who quietly get on with being really good at lopping off locks (among a selection of other ace sounding male grooming services).
I am reformed and will make it my business to return to Three Chairs Grooming. Not least because I’ve got that £15 balance on my gift card.
Feel free to leave comments, feedback or suggestions to further broaden this Chiltern Boy’s horizons below…