London's best hairdressers
Discover London's best hairdressers from super salons to classic barbers
Whether you're looking for a pre-party pick-me-up or a drastic colour change, London has hair salons to suit all tastes and budgets. To save you from any future bad hair days we sent a group of testers out into the capital to track down the best hairdressers in central, north, south, east and west London.
He may be a celeb and TV favourite, but there’s nothing intimidating about Andrew Barton’s eponymous salon – his Covent Garden venue is his friendly ‘home away from home’, with stylists and clients alike gabbing away to each other over tea and biscuits in an uber-relaxed setting, complete with strokeable flock wallpaper puppies. When not on shoots with the likes of Lily Allen, Andrew’s in the salon for just two days a week, but if you’re in need of a one-off transformation, his Andrew Barton Makeover is well worth the £510 for cut, colour and finish. He’s also built up an exceptional team that includes colourist AJ Blackadder, worshipped by beauty editors for his bespoke, seasonal trend-led services – forget dip-dyes, its all about colour panelling, blushing and monochromatic blondes (from £102).
- 25 Henrietta St, WC2E 8NA
Think of Atherton Cox as the Jil Sander of hairdressers: beautiful cuts delivered without fuss. It was founded nearly a decade ago by Lisa Atherton and Paul Cox, and the team is now nearly 40-strong, catering predominantly for glamorous thirtysomething Marylebone professionals and yummy mummies. Thanks to Men’s Hairdresser of the Year award-winner Desmond Murray, who charges £68 for a ‘re-design’, it’s a go-to for a brilliant gents’ cut too. If you’re after a lengthening, rather than a shortening, service, look to the salon’s hair extensions. Under the directorship of Andrew Bidwell, you’ll get natural-looking tresses without a hint of Wag. Complete the red-carpet look with some seriously luxurious eyelash extensions by Daxita Veghela (£150).
- 18 New Cavendish St, W1G 8UR
For those who care about what is going into and on to their bodies, the Aveda Institute on High Holborn is hard to beat. One of the orginal purveyors of natural hair and skin products, the brand continues to deliver quality treatments at this vast, airy hair and beauty spa. Time Out has long been a fan of the salon, not only for its fabulous non-agressive colour and great cuts, but the serene manicure and pedicure booths, tucked away at the back. What makes this salon appealing is that is refreshingly un-sceney: no air-kissing, fuss or celebrity gossip.
- 174 High Holborn, WC1V 7AA
You may feel a little self-conscious approaching the rather grand Bourdon House, home to luxury brand Alfred Dunhill’s flagship store, but a calm, unpretentious welcome makes you feel as though you’re a member of an exclusive men’s club (which, incidentally, is just what occupies the other half of the building). Step through clouds of cigar smoke on the Cellar Bar patio, up the plush carpeted staircase, and into the cutting room where barber Jay clips, trims and shaves from Tuesday through to Saturday. The room is packed with perfectly picked oddities: old books, anonymous bits of engines, a steel stetson, mini TVs and products from 200-year-old London pharmacists DR Harris. The service is impressive – personable, skilled and versatile – with contemporary styles on offer as much as classic, sober cuts more befitting a Mayfair hedge-fund manager. A spa area offers treatments for men and women if you need the full service, and the Cellar bar does a brilliantly spicy Bloody Mary, delivered to the barber’s chair. Haircut, £50; wet shave, from £40.
- 2 Davies St, W1K 3DJ
For no-nonsense blow-dries, great colour and cuts in bright, comfortable surroundings, Charles Worthington is your man. We have long frequented the Percy Street outlet for lunchtime blow-dries (from £36) and can’t fault the customer service – a bowl of nuts and glass of bubbly is always offered within seconds of sitting down (you can have unlimited top-ups for a £2 charge. By our reckoning, if you drink enough, you can break even). The salon is minimal but super-comfortable, and for a place with such a big name behind it, it is remarkably friendly. Upstairs (at both Percy Street and Covent Garden salons) you can get great Marian Newman manicures and pedicures from £13.
- 7 Percy St, W1T 1DH
Despite its location in the heart of upmarket Mayfair, this modern two-storey salon isn’t at all snooty, with a staff of very talented cutters and colourists. Prices start at £60 (£45 for men), though you’ll pay £300 for a cut with Daniel (£150 for men). There’s also a menu of therapies; the swish Harvey Nichols branch has a dedicated spa. Hersheson’s Blow Dry Bars are located at Topshop, Westfield London and One New Change.
- 45 Conduit Street, W1F 2YN
You can tell a fair bit about a salon from the calibre of towel on offer. At this swish Marylebone hairdressers they’re as thick as duvets and the colour of caramel highlights. That level of service runs through the whole establishment, which is darkly glossy and reassuringly expensive. Cuts cost up to £115 (although you can get a junior stylist for £45), but if you have the money to spend, it’s a great place to spend it. As well as the usual roster of cuts and colour, there is a spa-style beauty department, where you can go for a 120-minute facial to recover from the stress of your head massage and unctuous conditioning treatment.
- 42-44 George St, W1U 7ES
Miss Betty and Mr Ducktail are London’s self-proclaimed ‘rock ‘n’ roll motherkutters’ – rockabilly hair experts who’ll coiffeur you back to the ’50s. Their small salon in Kingly Court offers a full menu of services for women – particularly colour treatments and brilliant, gravity-defying up-dos – but there’s just one coveted chair for men, where Mr Ducktail whips up pompadour quiffs with clippers, scissors and a switchblade. Lured from their native Toulouse by London’s tough-as-nails rockabilly scene, the pair have dressed It’s Something Hell’s with vintage memorabilia and leopard-print furniture, including collectors T-shirts, cola-scented own-brand hair products and stacks of well-thumbed tattoo mags. With a ‘first come, first served’ policy for men, it’s best to try your luck during the week – bad boys have been known to queue for hours on a Saturday morning to get clipped before a night of drag racing and dancing, no doubt. From £15.
- Unit 2.16 Kingly Court, (49 Carnaby Street), W1F 9PY
Joe Mills has been trimming, chopping and clippering Londoners at his unisex Soho salon The Lounge since the late '90s. Opened in December 2010, a few doors away on Greens Court, is another of his projects, Joe & Co. Focusing soley on men, Joe & Co offers an ultra-contemporary space that eschews the stuffy wood panels and badger brushes of traditional barbershops. Haircuts, treatments and a bespoke wet shave - as well as friendly, unhurried service - are all on offer. Recommended.
- 7 Greens Court, W1F 0HQ
Jo Hansford has carved a niche for herself in hair colour. She is the first person many celebs turn to when they are thinking about changing from buttercup to vanilla (including Angelina Jolie and, bizarrely, Tim Henman). Having your hair coloured here is not a quick, in-and-out process; the staff take time to get the perfect shade. If you are getting a full head of colour, followed by a cut, you need to allow half a day. Mind you, the majority of the Prada-clad, bouffant-haired clientele look like they can afford to do so: we heard about one lady who used to travel from Australia when she needed her roots done. Despite all this, the salon retains an easy-going atmosphere full of banter and stories about the happenings on the increasingly hip Mount Street – which has suddenly found itself the epicentre of Mayfair’s cool scene.
- 48 South Audley St, W1K 2QB
‘Having previously always worked for other people, we’ve really paid attention to all the things that used to niggle at us!’ says Stewart Payne, co-founder and manager of this ‘East-Meets-West London’ salon. Business partner, Ricky Lee Jones, co-founder and Master Stylist who trained at the likes of Trevor Sorbie and the nearby Taylor & Taylor, and the addition of a few ‘little wow factors’ borrowed from more exclusive establishments is what really sets this homely-feeling salon apart from its mid-range competitors. While some of London’s most expensive salons will charge you for a cup of tea (on top of an arm and a leg for highlights), here the extras are free. Elderflower bellinis and strawberry tarts were being served on our snoop and there’s lots of thoughtful touches, such as phone chargers and comfy chairs. Dip-dying with ammonia-free colour (£63) may be the most popular treatment among the Shoreditch set, but those with a more conservative taste needn’t be scared off. The cut and finish (from £37) is as good as any.
- 73 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3BS
Despite its chic, contemporary look, Michaeljohn remains the ultimate old-school Mayfair salon catering for royalty (Princess Beatrice), fashion editors (yup, Anna Wintour gets her fringe cut here by Charlie Chan), and blonde Hollywood bombshells (from Cameron Diaz to Drew Barrymore). Part of its winning, if not particularly radical, formula is the superlative quality of its cuts (Matt Harrison is great with unruly hair as Time Out testers can testify). Tints, highlights and hair extensions are also catered for, the latter in a specially designed area where all sorts of hair wizardry is performed. Downstairs is the plush beauty room – where the fabulous-sounding 'Doctor Duve's Incredible Anti-Aging Facial' – has been introduced.
- 25 Albermarle Street, W1S 4HU
Murdock's artfully over-scrubbed interiors, full of flock wallpaper, vintage shop fittings and retro-packaged products, belies the small London chain's real age. Its first barbershop, in Shoreditch, opened in 2006, and still perfectly delivers the sort of centuries-old faux-heritage that is often copied but never bettered. With a full grooming package, from wet shaves, manicures and in-chair treatments to simple cuts and clever restyles, the décor may be old but consistent, high quality service is relaxed and contemporary. Accessories, manly gifts, art books and a generous edit of lotions and unguents, including Murdock's own branded cologne (from Black Tea to Vetiver) are all available at the brand's four London locations. The Monmouth Street store houses an expanded boutique with clothing and curios. This branch relocated from the chain's original store to this new site on Redchurch Street in November 2012. Other branches at Covent Garden, Liberty, Spitalfields
- 46 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP
For the original Toni & Guy experience, visit the Sloane Square salon. It’s been here for 30 years and harks back to the family roots of this global superbrand, and boasts a fiercely loyal clientele. The light and airy salon is the working residence of CEO Toni Mascolo OBE (who is available for bookings – surprsingly still only £69 for a cut and finish), as well as some of the company’s leading international artistic directors. The mezzanine level offers people-watching opportunities across the square, and on the lower ground you’ll find the walls papered with the catwalk looks created by Toni & Guy teams backstage at London Fashion Week.
- 49 Sloane Square, SW1W 8AX
‘From catwalk to the kerb’ is Windle & Moodie’s mantra, and few are more qualified to do so. Following a revamp last year, its Covent Garden salon features 2,500 square feet of styling space, plastered with shots of its greatest cuts – from Kate Moss hair-swishing in Vogue to Gwyneth Paltrow’s enviable choppy bob. Everyone from the receptionist to the in-house hair blogger is disarmingly friendly, and features such as mood lighting by wash stations make it easy to relax. The new speed styling service (£25), created by hairdressers who often work backstage at shows, is the most fashion-savvy in London. And the ingenious addition of speed colouring (£35 for 45mins) makes it an ideal spot for a lavish lunchbreak.
- 41-45 Short's Gardens, WC2H 9AP