London: A Travel Guide to UK Vendors
Our intrepid business traveler finds that good haircuts and manicures are possible to find in the tricky city of London—if you know where to look.
Ah, London. A brilliant city rich with culture, customs and the best accent on earth. Better architecture is hard to find, black cabs actually know how to get to where you want to go, and once you’ve tasted a sausage roll you will wonder why you ever had ambitions of being thin. What no one ever tells you is that London is a vendor nightmare. The standards and styles are all over the place, and few can hold a candle to those spoiled by New York's super stylists and nail buffs. After two years living in this European capital, GWS is proud to share the hard-earned list of those who you can trust with everything from tresses to dresses. In the second tips installment, behold the London list.
Grooming & Maintenance
Hair in London is a worry. Piecy ends and awful roots are either the style or default. I’m still not sure which. For fierce glamour, find Errol Douglas and his namesake salon in Knightsbridge. Nominated 13 times as British Hairdresser of the Year and awarded an MBE for outstanding contribution to hairdressing by the Queen. 200 GBP for cut and blow dry with Errol, from 50 GBP with others. 18 Motcomb Street, +442072350110.
For something more accessible, try Lockonego Hair Salon in Chelsea. Jon’s your man for cuts (from 125 GBP); Paul’s your guy for color (from 180 GBP). 394 Kings Road, +44 02077951798
Eyebrow technique is limited in the UK. Say goodbye to wax and hello to threading. The friction of those little strings still makes my skin shiver, but when in Rome… head to Malika. With six salons in and around London, a walk-in is near-guaranteed. Their quality is highly consistent to boot. From 15 GBP.
The search for a stellar facial nearly broke my otherwise rocky core, until in near-desperation I found Rashna at Beauty Works West. She has been in the business for twenty years and it shows; she’s thorough, restorative and turned me on to Kahina. Bye bye breakouts, hello gorgeous. Treatments from 75 GBP. +44 207 221 2248, 8-9 Lambton Place, Notting Hill.
Europe may be ahead of America on cell phone technology, but not when it comes to cutting-edge hair removal. For tip-top laser creations visit Aggi, also at Beauty Works West. She uses the Soprano XL laser, which is state of the art and dubbed "pain free." GWS can only vouch for one of those two claims.
The most treasured person I found in London was Therese Synott, massage goddess extraordinaire. She is other-worldly and spiritual perfection. When the Black Eyed Peas come to London, this is who they call. You should too. At your home or in select spas.
Nail care remains problematic. Mine are still recovering. The biggest shocker for nail-obsessed Americans and Asians is that British culture doesn’t (yet) lend itself to easy, cheap manicures. Advance planning is the default, and often times this means booking nearly a week in advance. Quelle horreur! The best and most economical options (from 16 GBP) can be found at Scin on either Great Portland Street in Marylebone or in Notting Hill. Find Anna or Nicky Noble and they’ll sort you out. +44 207 387 4762
Gents, when you need some old-school manscaping to complement your bespoke duds head to The Spa & Barber at Alfred Dunhill in Mayfair. Cuts and shaves, with the old leather to make you feel right at home. 2 Davies Street, Mayfair
National healthcare requires having a good GP on speed dial. It is expensive, but highly necessary. Harley Street is the Rodeo Drive of medical care. Move nearby. The London Clinic can help with headaches to pathology. Try Dr. Iain Murray-Lyon. He is thorough, and if you can suffer through his secretary you’ll be fine. Speed is not their strongest suit, but they prescribe on-the-spot. 116 Harley Street, +44 207 935 6747, of The London Clinic.
For medical options further west, it’s The Portobello Clinic in Notting Hill. A private GP becomes essential. +44 (0) 20 8962 0635, 12 Raddington Road
For more specialized medical care, from Ayurvedic medicine to fertility concerns to nicely branded Colonic Hydrotherapy, find The Hale Clinic. This subtle sanctuary can literally go there. +44 (0) 20 7631 0156. 7 Park Crescent
For back-cracking and random chat, find Osteopath Richard Stubbs. His affable tone and squeaky chair make for a rather pleasant experience, all-in-all. 60 GBP per session, with options for insurance reimbursement. +44 (0) 207 262 3022. 30 Cumberland Mansions, Seymour Place.
For nutritional advice with a hint of fashion, meet Alli Godbold. A nutritionist since 1996, this former fashion model now runs a successful practice with great cookery workshops, treatments on allergies to tiredness, and also is connected to chic healthy getaways with InSpa Retreats.
Meatheads should plan to cut their carbs and find computer-geek-turned-personal-trainer John Richardson. [[email protected]]
Cabs cost a fortune in London. Consider a car service that puts all others to shame: Addison Lee. This 3,000-fleet service guarantees a pick-up anywhere in London within 15 minutes. You get a text direct to the driver, so no more dispatcher woes as you wait for that ride. By account or credit card, and lifesavers.+442073878888
A safe, reliable cleaner is hard to come by in the UK. Steer clear of the big agencies; they screw you on the way in and out. Friends turned me on to "Gina the Cleaner," who is a tad expensive, but delightful and trustworthy. +447833335588
London does experiences well. If looking for a fun group outing for friends or colleagues, definitely consider Food at 52. John Benbow has started cookery classes in his home in Clerkenwell. They are super-fun, relaxed and delicious if you can follow instructions. From Moroccan night to simple Italian, this is the perfect thing to do as a pair or a big group. +44 7814 027 067. 52 Great Percy Street
Cocoa fiends should try My Chocolate. This darling chocolate-making kitchen is perfect for hen parties or corporate escapes. Eat something first. Purge after. +4420 7269 5760
Boozehounds, you should explore Shaker UK. They offer both casual and intense courses in the art of cocktail-making. And for you drinkers who don’t want to do the prep, head to Vinopolis over by Shakespeare’s Globe. These wine caves are perfect for a date that needs a little inspiration. Wine-only tastings on some nights, gin on others, and if you're really ambitious combine everything into one night. Stumble home.
For other random things to do and great gifts to give visit www.experiencedays.co.uk for inspired ideas.
Those in need of an on-the-ground concierge, consider a membership with Quintessentially, www.quintessentially.com/ the ultimate reservation-getters and ticket-procurers. Started in London, but now with offices around the globe. +44 (0)845 388 4329
Gilly Storey is a personal stylist who can whip your look into shape. With associations at Selfridge’s and Liberty, she has access to all. +447595835058
Gentlemen, you should explore the new compendium to our girly staple: Mr. Porter. This genius site, with copywriter Tom Ford and other fashion icons supporting it, gives you Dapper Dons options aplenty. Shipping to the U.S. as well.
Given all roads lead to your stomach, my most dangerous recommendation: The Ginger Pig. This old fashioned butcher is no joke. Need a hamhock? A rump? This is your spot. With locations around London, you just must. Butchery classes are offered to those that "make the cut," and if you’re more of a passive eater, just try one of their sausage rolls. The ensuing heart attack will most certainly be worth it. When in their Marylebone location, go all out for a cheese-chaser next store at La Fromagerie. YUM.
Jolie Hunt travels on her own dime for more than 50% of the year. Her recommendations are aimed at business travelers who are short on time but not on taste. She is the global head of public relations for Thomson Reuters, appointed April 2008. She lives between New York and London.