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.

Inside the shop

Inside the shop

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.

Looking Glass Cocktail Club inside the Covent Garden Ted's Grooming Room

Looking Glass Cocktail Club inside the Covent Garden Ted’s Grooming Room

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.

Efes Beer is a Turkish Staple and always on offer at Ted's Grooming Room

Efes Beer is a Turkish Staple and always on offer at Ted’s Grooming Room

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.

Turkish Coffee is not for the faint of heart

Turkish Coffee is not for the faint of heart

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.

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