While you might only visit one every six weeks – to have your quiff managed perhaps, or your number 3 buzzed into a number 2.5 – the humble barbershop plays a significant role in the male experience. Consider its colourful history. In the middle ages, barbers performed surgery and dentistry. And the barber’s chair has long stood in for the therapist’s chaise longue, providing customers with the kind of reassuring safe space required by men before opening up about their feelings comfortable, confiding their deepest worries and inner secrets.
Moral support aside, the barbershop’s hair-primping purpose remains. As anyone who saw Timothée Chalamet’s pageboy cut for his role in King Henry V will know, the right (or wrong) haircut can swing the needle on your attractiveness-metre rather dramatically, no matter how eye-gougingly beautiful you might be in the first place. So whether you’re in need of a little facial topiary, a comprehensive barnet overhaul, or just somewhere to have a natter, making the right choice is important. From Redruth to Peckham, here’s our pick of the top 10 barbershops across the UK.
King’s Cross, London
This hipster haunt in Coal Drops Yard, behind King’s Cross station, is Manifesto’s second outpost (the first is in Clerkenwell), and provides respite from the hackneyed retro-style barber shops that populate much of the capital. Instead, you’ll find smooth concrete interiors and a team of accomplished barbers who are worth the (admittedly sometimes hefty) price tag (man-ifesto.com).
2. Loch Key
Loch Key prides itself on providing a safe space for gents who want to talk about their mental health, and its founder, Stacey Ayles, is passionate about the cause. Linked to the Lion’s Barber Collective, which raises awareness for the prevention of suicide, it’s a great place for a chat – and a top-line haircut, natch (facebook.com/lochandkeybarberco).
It has branches across the UK, but Ruffians’ first shop was in Edinburgh’s West End. As well as facials and cut-throat razor shaves, Ruffians’ forte is comfort – you’ll find no itchy necks here, thanks to an in-shop vacuum system with hoses built into each station to clean away cut hair. And the heated closet will keep your coat nice and toasty in winter (ruffians.co.uk/pages/ruffians-edinburgh).
4. Jakes Barbers
The simply named Jakes Barbers isn’t actually run by a Jake at all, but by the Vidal Sassoon-trained Colin and Gary. Boasting a frankly stunning Edwardian barbershop interior with 17ft ceilings and loads of natural light, they keep things simple with a reassuringly straightforward menu of three options: dry cut and finish, wet cut and finish, or beard trim. It’s a straightforward approach, but it works – their legions of loyal clients are testament to that (jakesbarbers.com).
5. Asashi Barber
Sequestered away down a cobbled alley in the depths of Shoreditch lies Asashi Barber (above), a genuine hidden gem of a barbershop. Its founder, Asashi Yamaguchi, moved from his native Japan to London in 1998, building an impressive client book that has included Nick Cave, Kiko Mizuhara and Coldplay. Nowadays, with more than 25 years’ experience under his belt, he offers sharp and handsome haircuts to both men and women, and can coif the finest bowl cut or slicked side-parting in the East End (asashibarber.com).
6. Pall Mall Barbers
If a good old-fashioned, no-nonsense chop is the order of the day, then head to the award-winning and historic Pall Mall Barbers. They have branches across London – and now in New York, too – but the shop just off Trafalgar Square is the original and it is about to celebrate its 123rd birthday, making it one of the oldest establishments in the country. The atmosphere is hectic, and it’s a bit of a squeeze, but a complimentary glass of Jameson’s emphasises the rapscallion charm (pallmallbarbers.com)
7. The Station Barbers
Thought getting a nifty haircut in London without breaking the bank was a fool’s errand? Think again. No appointments and no frills, the Station Barbers is a walk-in establishment that sits just off Peckham Rye, and will furnish you with a perfectly well-done crew cut for just £11 (stationbarberspeckham.com).
8. Savills Barbers
Decked out with antique furniture, vintage barber chairs and sharply dressed staff, Sheffield’s Savills Barbers looks like somewhere between a rockabilly speakeasy and the set of Peaky Blinders. It boasts a cult following on Instagram for its old fashioned-with-a-twist haircuts. You’ll find no better quiff-coiffeur in Yorkshire (savillsbarbers.com).
Sitting quietly on the edge of Manchester’s Northern Quarter is Notjust, an understated powerhouse of hairdressing creativity. It looks more like a gallery than a barbershop, and while it is popular among Manchester’s arty youth, there’s no pernickety pretension here. It’s the place to go in the city if an up-to-the-minute snip is your thing (notjustnotjust.com).
10. Hamilton’s Barbershop
Before Liam Hamilton was cutting hair, he served in the Coldstream Guards for 21 years. Now an acclaimed barber, he runs a tight ship at this charming establishment in Redruth, where you can ask for everything from a flat top to a facial scrub (booksy.com).