Bad hair day? No biggie. When a quick at-home conditioning treatment just doesn’t cut it, there's a mind-boggling line up of salons in London ready and waiting to tackle the (ahem) root of the problem.
And these are a cut above your usual hairdressers – ever since trendy salons started serving alcoholic drinks with your cut and dry, things have just got better and better in the world of hairdressing. From new and quirky to downright fancy, we bring you the best hair salons in London to tame your mane, all tried, tested and reviewed by Time Out writers.
RECOMMENDED: London's best barbers
London’s best hairdressers
On demand blow-dries
This hair bar opened on a cosy Islington backstreet in 2010, and although that north London branch is closed, there are now beauty bars in Covent Garden and Oxford Street's Debenhams. The young, stylish team offer various different blow-dry styles from £29. Open from 7am till late, simply book online, swing by, and book you’ll be prepped for a night out in no time.
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 original 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-aggressive colour and great cuts, but the serene manicure and pedicure booths, tucked away at the back. What makes this salon appealing is it’s refreshingly un-sceney: no air-kissing, fuss or celebrity gossip.
Best for Structural integrity
Closest tube Old Street (for Shoreditch branch)
Beauty might only be surface-deep but at ESHK they’ll give you the scaffolding to support it. With salons in Shoreditch, Barbican, Clerkenwell and Berlin, ESHK are bang on the money when it comes to trend-focused, cool girl cuts. But what makes them really great is how they combine style with technical wizardry. Like the always lusted-after ‘French Girl’ hair, the focus here is on a seriously good quality cut that can then be worn in a deliberately messy fashion without, umm, looking a mess. They also offer a genuinely warm welcome and relaxed atmosphere – there’s nothing intimidating about this salon, despite its location in the ‘creative industries’ heartland. All products used are from the eco-sustainable, organic O Way brand, which looks after the environment while also smelling very subtly of Christmastime. Yum. Rosemary Waugh
This buzzy Covent Garden salon has a reputation for styling the uber-gorgeous, as the glossy mag pages on the walls featuring the locks of Kate Moss, Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow demonstrate. But don’t be intimidated by the A-lister clientele – the salon has a friendly and down-to-earth vibe. Even the minimalist decor is offset by a huge table in the reception piled with retro board games, tastefully placed art books, and erm, ‘The Complete Guide to Ferrets’.
Venue says Welcome to our acclaimed, award-winning salon Windle London in Covent Garden, London.
Cool wearable cuts
Bloomsbury is well-served by swish salons, and this spot from hairdresser to the (fashion) stars Sam Burnett is no exception. Sleek, smart and with lovely stylists who’ll offer you a glass of fizz while you get your tresses trimmed, it really is five-star service. Happily, despite a large number of awards under this salon’s perfectly-groomed belt, it’s a down-to-earth, friendly place that you won’t walk out of with a ‘directional’ (read: ridiculous) new hairdo.
Hair and scalp specialists
Whether you’re desperately trying to rectify the disaster of a home perm, minimising the damage from a sloppy salon, or you’re a model victim of a photoshoot involving super glue and a blast furnace, the experts at Philip Kingsley are the people to see. The London Clinic, set in the Edwardian splendour of Mayfair, specialises in trichology – the study of hair and the scalp. The team of trichologists here are pros at dealing with issues such as hair thinning and hair loss and have even collaborated with cancer charities and patients who have had their hair or scalp affected by various treatments, so you can be sure your barnet is in very capable hands.
Best for down-to-earth vibes
Closest tube Holloway Road
If you, like me, often emerge from a hairdressers feeling like someone has Mr Potato Head-ed the overly-coiffed locks of a Kardashian onto your normal person face, then Bebop might be a more down-to-earth fit. An independent salon located a handy stone's throw from Holloway Road station, it earns planet-saving points by prioritising vegan and cruelty-free products, but also has a more relaxed vibe than most. If you want to be tonged and preened then they can do that; if you just want to feel like yourself, but a bit shinier, then they'll style you more naturally. I went for a colour top-up and a conditioning mask. Though it's a fairly uncomplicated touch-up, Chloe my stylist (and the salon's hands-on co-founder) tells me how doing simple things well is often just as satisfying as concocting a rainbow dip-dye mohican. With a tea in hand (wines and beers are also on the menu) and deeply relaxed by a top-level head massage, it's an approach that shows. Bebop is the kind of place that focuses on quality – in its ingredients, its customer service and beyond – rather than just giving you a glossy surface. I've even kept up the easy hair drying tips I learnt in my day-to-day routine. Unheard of. Lisa Wright
Dalston Kingsland Overground
Forget slick, minimalistic hair salons, this indie hairdressers has a proudly decadent interior with framed antique photographs, bare-brick walls, a wooden bar lit with delicate lightbulbs and lots of reclaimed vintage furniture. The Dalston massive, try-hard City boys and east London locals tend to come here for trendy looks and dip dyes – but a classic fringe, or even a few Chelsea layers are also perfectly executed by skilled staff who specialise in listening to their customers. Other branches in Clapton, Peckham, Brockley, East Village, Brixton and Streatham, Crouch Hill and Portobello Topshop Oxford Circus.
Sean Fordham, owner and regular stylist to Graham Norton, FYI, established himself on the Soho hairdressing scene for 13 years before opening this hip east London salon. With its distressed wooden floors, bare-brick walls and lush green tiles, the interior at this unisex salon is very much as stylish as the hairstyles it creates. Excellent aftercare advice and attentive stylists ensure a regular stream of loyal clients. Plus, this place even produces its own pale ale. Who needs pubs when you’ve got hairdressers like this?
No, it isn’t located in a chapel but a former Victorian pub (that would be the first branch – located in a former nineteenth-century Baptist church in Tunbridge Wells) even so it’s hard to miss this green and orange-tiled salon on the corner of Owen Street and St John Street. The colourful, spacious salon has a unique pricing strategy, charging by time rather than by cut. Prices range from £50-£100 (depending on which stylist you go for) and complimentary drinks are served, including seasonal extras, like scrummy hot-chocolate shots. Set over two floors, each zone has a different artistic theme. We reckon you’ll fall in love with the chic modern interior as much as your new hairdo.
Venue says The Chapel in Islington offers dedicated one-to-one attention from our team of expert stylists and technicians, led by director Mark Palmer.