Where Gentlemen Go to Get Groomed
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because, guys: Why wouldn’t you want to take care of yourself this way?
By Frédéric Schwilden
For clients like gourmet chef Kolja Kleeberg, visiting the recently opened Gentlemen’s Circle on Charlottenstraße in Berlin is about far more than just getting groomed. First, there’s the day bar, where patrons can sip a drink while waiting to be shaved and coiffed. Not a fan of the Altesino Rosso di Montalcino from Tuscany or the Château Musar from Lebanon? Try any of the more than two dozen spirits or a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or the almost-forgotten Gin Rickey.
Before a barber actually begins his work here for 50 euros (around $53) — today it’s Dennis, who’s wearing a waistcoat on top of his shirt with rolled-up sleeves — guests warm up with moist, lemon-scented towels on their faces. Here, of course, a shave (roughly $27 to $59) includes a real brush and blade before more towels and a soothing oil arrive. Meanwhile, guests can also get their nails cut (about $16 to $43) and filed, then polished with a leather cloth as they relax to the sounds of, well, right now Ella Fitzgerald’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” is fluttering through the shop like a nervous bird in spring.
Oh, and no girls allowed — except for Fridays, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
“I think it’s smarter to pay for the services you want individually.”
Cory Ohlendorf, editor-in-chief of Valet, a men’s lifestyle magazine
The idea for the Gentlemen’s Circle came about when André Goerner, a 39-year-old hairdresser based in Berlin, no longer wanted to leave the care and maintenance of cultivated gentlemen here solely in the hands of typical hairdressing companies. He had also run another salon that welcomed both sexes but says men don’t always want to sit next to women who are getting highlights, nor do women necessarily want to be near men who are being shaved. “There are areas of our lives in which we would prefer this to be different,” he says. “But we don’t trust ourselves to say it.”
While there’s no annual fee at the Gentlemen’s Circle, and dropping in will suffice, some clubs like these in other parts of the world can carry pricey fees. Yearly membership at John Allan’s Razor Club in San Francisco, for one, runs $950, while The Gents Place in Dallas charges up to $2,000. Over at The Shave of Beverly Hills? It’s up to $5,000 annually. But while their services might be appealing to those who can afford them, they’ve become a lot easier to find at full-service barbershops these days — and there’s a chance “you’re also paying a premium for services that you may not even use,” warns Cory Ohlendorf, editor-in-chief of Valet, a men’s lifestyle magazine. “I think it’s smarter to pay for the services you want individually.”
Located on Hausvogteiplatz, in the place that’s now the established center of Berlin, Goerner’s salon is just around the corner from the posh mall Galeries Lafayette as well as embassies, boutiques and high-end hotels and restaurants. But that doesn’t mean the salon is above providing some of today’s more basic indulgences. Once guests open their eyes and look in the mirror, they can enjoy a crowning glory — a drink, a puff of a cigar or a pastry reminiscent of what North Americans have dubbed the cronut or what Franconians know as the Küchlein, in the so-called “gentlemen’s corner.”
Nathan Siegel contributed reporting.
- Frédéric Schwilden, OZY Author Contact Frédéric Schwilden