By Guest Writer
on 2.4.09

truefitt-and-hill-barbershop

Admit it. As men getting what we bleed for every NFL Sunday for this past year, we have mastered the art of doing absolutely nothing to perfection. But rather than talk about how you should worship 1080p resolution while devouring honey-glazed duck wings topped with charred jalapenos, I want to share with you something even better…

Old-style pampering with all-natural ingredients at the hands of masseuses and world-class Master Barbers in the world’s oldest full-service barbershop: Truefitt & Hill.

Before the subtle aromas of cloves and sandalwood beckon you, know that Chicago’s back-room salon of antique mahogany fixtures and ruby-gold drapes is the American flagship branch of Truefitt & Hill, an outfit founded in London. T&H has an unmatched pedigree, with clientele spanning all strata of men looking to unwind or buff up for the evening. Gear Patrol sent me on an excursion to Truefitt & Hill here in Chicago and I will testify as to the experience.

Upon Entering…

Before being served hot green tea and oatmeal raisin cookies, your coat is removed by the female concierge as though you were a Roman Senator being derobed for a steamy bath in a secluded marble caldarium. Your mind is cleared as the soft strains of opera resonate from a vaulted ceiling supported by white columns amidst black bow ties and starched white coats. Off to a good start.

My goal is to get you to pass out.

And while it is important to look like past patron Cary Grant, if only from the scalp on, the objective here is an intangible: relaxation. In the words of shop owner Kirk Merchant, “my goal is to get you to pass out.”

The Hot Lather Shave:

Before a series of nine soothingly hot towels are applied to your face, a facial massage is performed where each Master Barber “grabs the chin and cheeks and holds pressure there for three seconds, holds the nerve area around the temples and applies pressure there and on the forehead between the eyes with his index finger.” According to Merchant, this is a person’s “off button.” The end result is a skin-rejuvenating shave that is flawlessly smooth, even twenty four hours later.

…grabs the chin and cheeks and holds pressure there for three seconds, holds the nerve area around the temples and applies pressure there and on the forehead between the eyes with his index finger… this is the man’s off button.

By my tally, the ingredients used in this enlightening experience are pre-shave oil applied by badger hair bristle brush, hot lather, cocoa butter, chrome straight razor, witch hazel, and lemon cream. Genius.

The Hair Cut:

The career choice of every T&H Master Barber is life binding; each lives and dies a T&H Master Barber. If the blue-eyed baritone idol of every poodle-skirted “bobby soxer” can entrust his glossy set of hair to these “Supreme Court Barbers,” so can you. After all, Frank Sinatra is Frank Sinatra. As for the hair cut, my coif is remarkable – thank you very much.

The Massages:

Everything is kneaded and pounded into cathartic submission from your toes to your temples with the hour-long Whole Body Massage. For less sadistic punishment (and my choice), you can try the half-hour Stress Relief Massage which does the neck, shoulders, scalp, and face. What happens after the session is purely speculation, but by my hazy-blissful recount, ’twas amazing.

Everything Else:

truefitt-and-hill-productsThe only touch of femininity here comes via the friendly staff. With that said, there is a plethora of pampering services from Herbal Steam Facials to “Royal” packages such as The Duke of Edinburgh, named after regular client Prince Phillip aka the appointer of this barbershop’s Royal Warrant. For comparison’s sake, other Royal Warrant holders include the likes of Aston Martin and Bentley Motors. Unfortunately, this series of facts doesn’t change the reality of my package “forcing” a pedicure upon my podalic extremities of grossly neglected keratin growth aka Man Feet, which included them being soaked, rubbed, and softened in warm essential oils. (ahem) Again, the only femininity here comes via the friendly staff.

Contributor’s Note: On your way out, browse the apothecary’s mahogany shelves for a luxury grooming product you can find nowhere else, from John F. Kennedy’s favored bar of triple-milled soap, to a scent worn by some five-star general who oversaw the invasion of Normandy.

Locations:

London
71 St. James Street, London SW1A 1PH, England
Phone: +44 (0) 20-7493-8496
Monday-Friday: 8:30am-5:30pm | Saturday: 8:30am-5:00pm

Las Vegas
Forum Shops at Caesars
3500 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: (866) 714-1115 / (702) 735-7428
Sunday-Thursday: 10:00am-11:00pm | Friday & Saturday: 10:00am-12:00am

Chicago
Level 6 Shops
900 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 337-2525
Monday-Friday: 7:30am-7:00pm | Saturday & Sunday: 7:30am-6:00pm

Toronto
Scotia Plaza, 40 King St. West, Box 201, Toronto, Ontario M5H 3Y2
Phone: (416) 214-4646
Monday-Friday: 8:00am-6:00pm | Saturday: 8:30am-3:00pm

Visit the Truefitt & Hill Website