FIRST PUBLISHED ON LONDON REAL April 13, 2014
When I first arrived in London in 2007 Covent Garden was but a mere shell of its former self. It had turned into what can at best be described as a checkbox on the pilgrimage of the mindless shambling of Italian and Spanish tourists.
But in 2010 something changed, and I was a part of it, The Covent Garden Apple Store was finished and opened to iDevice brandishing masses. I was working in that store and kept hearing the mantra that where Apple sets up shop the area gets revitalised. At the time I thought it was just more of the enthusiastic and fervent company rhetoric that had helped whip 300 (mostly) youngsters into Apple evangelists, but as time went on I realised that there was more than a grain of truth behind it.
Covent Garden 2014 is a completely transformed area, it is once more the navel of London as exciting new businesses and experiments by normally conservative brands sprout like mushrooms; it is the hub of retail and food startup for London.
It is no surprise then that one of my favourite new London businesses was planning to expand with a new location right in the heart of it all. Ted’s Grooming Room is a traditional Turkish barbershop chain, started by Ted Baker himself after he fell in love with Turkish barbershop tradition in Istanbul much as I did some years ago.
I have come to see the ritual of getting a professional shave and haircut by an establishment specifically geared towards men as a form of meditation and self empowerment. This is of course a pleasure our grandparents knew very well but that was lost as the 20th century progressively moved towards getting people to do things themselves at home under the guise of convenience.
A while ago I recorded a video of the “Full Service” experience in what was to be a series on improving yourself targeted to men.
Giddy at the news that my favourite manly establishment was opening a new location I managed to win myself a free service to coincide with their launch weekend. To partially redeem myself for such good luck and self indulgence I thought I would share the love by the reviewing the new store for London Realers.
I arrived at the new location and was greeted by quite a queue, comprising every iteration of the male facial hair spectrum. Waiting is part of the barbershop experience and quite frankly you have no business being there if you are too impatient. I was given a little number card and offered a complimentary drink, standard procedure at Ted’s, what was new was that this store had a full cocktail bar at the back.
A rather dapper and friendly gentleman from Looking Glass London greeted me and offered me a bevy of manly cocktails, I was very tempted but for me the Turkish Barber experience requires Efes (Turkish beer), I did make an allowance for the new Efes Draft and even excused the misspelling of ‘Draught’ as it was delicious.
The wait went by very quickly and I found myself in the capable hands of my old friend and star of the youtube video.
The service was fantastic, as it good as it has ever been I felt that they have taken things to yet another level and the attention to detail and effort to truly make you relax and feel/look fantastic is something that will be hard to emulate.
As usual I loved every minute of it but for some reason my favourite part is the ear flaming; there is something special about it, perhaps its the feeling that you are being forged by fire.
I got up from my seat a little woozy and stupefied and was about to leave but my old friends bent my arm a little and convinced me to get another drink before leaving.
There is only one drink fit to end a Turkish barber experience in style….a strong and luxurious Turkish coffee.
Best of luck to the Ted team in their new location.