A good barbershop offers far more than just a haircut. Visiting a barbershop should be an escape - a moment of respite from the chaos and pressures of the outside world and a chance to recharge and unwind. And the best barbers do more than just wield a sharp pair of scissors and a well-stropped razor; they become a unique combination of your confidant, your consigliere, your therapist, your life coach, and your friend. So wherever you’re based in the UK, here are some of the best barbers to help you fix up and look sharp.
Worthy of inclusion for the name alone, Anderson Boyce’s Essex barbers specialises in black and Afro-Caribbean hair - and has a social mission, too. Priding itself on serving the needs of the community, Hairforce 1 proudly offers free haircuts for young men with upcoming job interviews - thanks to a collaboration with Romford’s YMCA and Jobcentre. The barbers also offers training up to NVQ level 2.
With a nautical theme appropriate to its naval surroundings, the Barbership can be found in Castle Road’s iconic Clocktower building. It’s a classic gentleman’s barbers, offering indulgent wet shaves, smart fades and a welcoming Pompey atmosphere. The Barbership has recently expanding to nearby Gosport, and now stocks a range of its own styling products; look out for their high-gloss pomade and sandalwood beard oil, in particular.
In the calm of his beautifully-designed "part speakeasy, part gentleman’s club", the inimitable and fast-talking Brent Pankhurst will cut your hair, counsel you on your love life, tell an array of name-dropping and faintly libellous stories, and perhaps facilitate a business deal or two between you and the bloke getting a wet shave next to you. Pankhurst generates fierce loyalty amongst his long-term clients, many of whom are CEOs, media luminaries and captains of industry. They come for the discrete, slightly louche atmosphere, the complimentary Balvenie whisky bar, and - of course - the haircuts. Which are bloody good.
Multi award-winning Ruffians can be found serving up cut-throat wet-shaves across London, with outposts in Covent Garden, Marylebone, Shoreditch, and - most recently - inside Liberty department store. But for the authentic, original experience you’ll need to visit Edinburgh, where the Ruffians' journey began in 2012. The uncommonly beautiful store is centred around a large oak cutting desk with six stations, at which Ruffians’ barbers offer their signature relaxed but in-depth consultation, en route to serving up a superb haircut. Coffee, whisky and iPads come as standard.
Manchester’s Northern Quarter offers an array of superb places to go for a trim (see also RPB and Barber Below, the ‘anti-barbers’) but Maclure is as reliable a destination for a fresh cut as you’ll find. No appointments are necessary - just drop in for a cup of tea and a seriously sleek cut in a wonderfully friendly and welcoming environment.
"For scoundrels and gentlemen" is the tagline of Barber Barber (so good they named it twice, etc), whose multiple outposts offer hyper-comfortable leather seats and lush Hollywood-inspired decor - including trademark lightbulb mirrors. The Liverpool shop, in College Lane, is a treat - the warm, immaculately-dressed team are happy to take their time to understand the look you want, and incorporate an unusually deep understanding of head shape and hair growth patterns into the final cut. If you’re stuck for inspiration, ask for one of the (slightly eccentrically named) house styles, which include "The Vagabond" and "The Cybercrop".