I have lived in Wimbledon for well over 10 years now and in that time I think my wife has tried just about every single salon within a 2 mile radius of where we live. For the last few years she has been a regular customer of the Gina Conway salon on Wimbledon Hill road.
Now I am in no way complaining as I’m very happy that my wife returns from the salon in such a good mood but when she books an appointment at Gina Conway I know she will be gone most of the day. The question I want answered is, why does she spend so much time there?
So when I was invited to experience a gent’s haircut I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now as a bloke I have been going to the same place for the last 7 years where I can walk in and say ‘the usual’ thanks. Its quick (done in 15 minutes) so I’m not there long enough to engage in deep conversation.
I’ve walked past the Gina Conway salon a hundred times and glanced through the window but never been in so I arrive a few minutes early for my appointment to ease into the atmosphere. As I walk in the first thing I notice is it’s very plush with a modern feel that is not at all what I’m used to. I immediately feel out of place and slightly underdressed (I’m an unshaven scruffy looking Aussie bloke in his early 40’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans). Before my feeling of unease overcomes me one of the girls from reception greets me with a warm welcome, asks me to have a seat and offers me a drink. I decline as I’m not used to these perks at the barbers!
After a couple of minutes of waiting I’m whisked off to the main area of chairs and large well lit mirrors. The young lady asks me to take a seat and again I’m offered a drink, this time I think why not and I accept her offer and go for a coffee.
In the meantime I am introduced to another member of staff Kimberly, who apparently will be doing my massage?!? ‘Massage?’ I ask a little confused. Yes as Kimberley explains apparently every time you go to Gina Conway you get a stress relieving head massage before your service. This is starting to get good I thought to myself.
Before the massage begins I am asked to close my eyes and choose an aromatherapy oil by smell which is also new to me. So there I was not realising that I was drifting off in full relaxation mode until I woke myself up with the obligatory ‘fell asleep on the tube snort’ which was a little embarrassing. Kim reassured me that this happens more times than you would think and explains that people who live in London have such busy schedules that they find it hard to justify a few minutes of downtime. This is the best place for them to relax without feeling guilty.
After a refreshing wash and shampoo (with a superb scalp massage) I’m back in the stylist’s chair. Sitting there with my posh coffee and also a filtered water with ice and a slice I’m surrounded by quiet chatting and the snipping sound of scissors as background noise. It’s starting to sink in that this could be one of the reasons my wife takes all day to get a haircut.
Before I have too long to ponder a stylish looking chap comes over and introduces himself as Nader my stylist. We exchange pleasantries and he is straight down to business with the big icebreaking question ‘how would you like your hair’. As I can’t use my standard ‘the usual thanks’ phrase I think hard how I would like my hair and I come up with ‘shorter please’.
As the haircut begins so does the small talk (which I usually dread and try to avoid) but within a few minutes we work out we both support Arsenal and the chat just flows like a couple of blokes sharing a pint down the local. Turns out Nader was a lawyer but jacked it all in for a career dealing with nicer people in a more family environment where he actually enjoyed going to work every day (can’t say I blame him).
After what seemed like only a couple of minutes chatting he says what do you think? It looks like I’m all finished and I’m good to go. Out comes the hairdryer and a bit of Aveda hair product and a couple of minutes later I’m looking George Clooney sharp from the eyebrows up!
In fact, I’m now thinking that I should try the new men’s grey blending service that Nader mentioned.
Ok so I’m all done, the hairs looking good I’m feeling nice and chilled and for once I actually enjoyed getting a haircut. I thank Nader for the top job he’s done, he grabs my coat for me, bids me farewell and says that he hopes to see me again.
I leave Gina Conway with the feeling of a fresh haircut in a calm Zen like state from my visit. I now totally get why my wife spends a whole day getting a haircut. It’s not just because they are good at what they do. It’s the whole experience you get and the fact you can switch off from your hectic life.
My wife is definitely on to a good thing here! Would I be back for another visit? Hmmm let me think, good coffee, a head massage, a great haircut and an hour and a half to myself. It’s pretty safe to say I will be.