There’s been a rise in barbershops the past couple of years. All around the metro, small, quaint, well-designed, and highly conceptual “oldschool” barbershops are trying to bring back the days when a barber did more than just cut your hair. Now, handmade, organic, nature-based products that are not only sourced from non-toxic ingredients but also produced within fair-trade standards, have become fashionable and accepted. From soaps, facial wash, hair wax, shaving creams, beard oils to pomades--local product and local business have begun stealing the spotlight from the big, cool and trendy parlor franchises.
But I think what men appreciate the most about this back-to-basics trend is how personal care has become truly personal. Suits are now bespoke and customised, products are created specifically for your preferences, diets are tailor-made, and barbers know exactly what you want and how you want it. Amongst this new trend, a new shop finds its unique place and identity that takes the ‘barbershop’ experience a little further and a little better.
The Men’s Room is the newest tonsorial joint in town with its flagship along Katipunan avenue and soon-to-open branches in Megamall and Glorietta. They claim to offer "grooming and ‘manpering’ services for the sophisticated gentleman.” Gentleman--a term so often used nowadays. I personally have made it a mission to constantly challenge that description and perenially ask the questions: what is it that truly makes a man? What is it the makes him a gentleman? The Men’s Room seemed to know the answers. So I paid them a visit.
It was a little difficult finding their shop since Katipunan (southbound) is littered with restaurants, bars, coffeeshops, internet cafes, condos, bookshops, and whatnots. They take space in a tiny little nook on the second floor of The Oracle Hotel which also houses Razon’s for those of you like me who might miss it.
You enter the door and you are immediately greeted by a gaggle of smiling and pleasant faces. There is a reception table, a large menu of services, a small restroom, a tinier lounge and a massage chair. The Men’s Room offers the most comprehensive list of services I’ve seen amongst its competitors: It's not too complicated but it’s also not too sparse. But what really attracted me was how affordable it was. A lot of the other shops ride on the novelty of the trend and quite frankly, have their prices bordering on unreasonably high to maintain a “premium.” The Men’s Room keeps it real, which had me both excited and rather worried.
I asked to get a Classic Haircut (P200) and a Purifying Facial (P350). I’m very particular about my barber, and don’t change too often. My barber knows my preference and understands my hair--how it grows and how fast it grows. I might be giving him too much credit, but he at least makes me believe that he knows what he’s doing.
So I was assigned a barber and explicitly told him that I only wanted a trim and to clean up the growth from my already existing style. He nodded and smiled with a wisdom and a confidence. He ran his fingers through my hair, asked me quietly about its length and how much of it I wanted trimmed and silently went about his prep. To be absolutely honest, I was worried. I don’t like being surprised. He covered me up with the barber sheets, and began trimming. At this point, I was given the password to the internet and asked by the receptionist if I’d like a drink of coffee or beer. I declined and said I’ll have my drink afterward.
My barber had a flair and a skill that could only come with years of experience. He didn’t volunteer conversation, but was more than happy to answer my questions when I asked. He was polite and obliged me, but had razor sharp focus on making sure the trim was absolutely spotless, and symmetrical. He wasn’t arrogant and deferred to me about cutting the front shorter or shaving the sides smoother. Before I knew it, he was getting me ready for a shampoo and rinse. By the time he dried me up, and applied his recommended organic water-based pomade, all my fears were gone and I felt like I was cheating on my usual barber with this equally skilled new one from The Men's Room. Suffice to say, the cut was exactly how I wanted it and a little bit more.
I was then directed to the recliner or massage chair for my Purifying Facial. Before I go on, I must categorically say that I hate facials. Facials for me are like Confession… I don’t remember the last time I had one. I hate all the pricking, popping, crying and wincing in pain. But The Men’s Room attendant was extremely comforting and amusing, calming me down enough to lie still under that light on that bed. The D’Angelo and Jamiroquai playing on the background helped set the tone, too.
She applied all sorts of creams, lotions, and oils. Some of which were warm, cold, or a strange combination of both. I was doing everything in my power to stay awake just so I can anticpate the dreaded blackhead popping portion of the service. But it was extremely relaxing and I almost fell asleep. It was then I heard a little whirring sound from a machine which she tells me is for removing the blackhead. “Masakit ba yan?” I asked, and she said no. At The Men’s Room, they don’t prick, pop, or wound their clients' money-makers. They use a little vibrating gadget to remove all the muck from your face. True enough, it was absolutely pain free and satisfying once she showed me how much of those little dirtbags she extracted from my face. She then finished me off with a 10-minute mask and wiped all the product away.
I felt completely brand new.
Overall, this big man found a nifty little man-cave that was not only excellent in providing “manpering” services, but also gives off the vibe that you are welcome anytime when you need them the most. I had my drink in the little lobby while everyone watched the UFC fight on the flatscreen TV, and felt right at home.
One of the best things this ‘barbershop’ trend brings us is The Men’s Room. Affordable service, nostalgic experience, excellent results, and a familiar set-up. It’s the kind of shop you’ll want to bring your dad, your brother, your son, and your best-man to. The kind that you’ll want to keep coming home to. I still don’t know what it is that makes a man a “Gentleman,” but the staff of The Men’s Room definitely made me feel like one.
The Men's Room is located at The Oracle Hotel and Residences, 317 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City; open daily from 10am to 9pm. Call (02) 285 3554, like on Facebook (/themensroomph) and follow on Instagram (@themensroomph).