“Grow a beard”, they said. “You’ll see how comfortable it is”, they said. A grave mistake. It’s Marc fault for trying to convince me that his thick beard is a flirting magnet. Well, his fault and that of a few too many Thursday night drinks at Heliogàbal. When my spirits are raised I always end up doing whatever stupid thing is suggested. Without even realising it, I transformed into Joaquin Phoenix, regressing from ‘Her’ to ‘I’m Still Here’ in a matter of weeks. And that is how I discovered that there are some very curious barbershops in Barcelona.
After a few months, my homeless look lacked the magnetism that had been promised. I found some websites such as ‘Cuida tu Barba‘ (Look after your Beard), ‘Barbazul‘ (Bluebeard), ‘The Barba Company‘ (The Beard Company) and ‘Tu Barba‘ (Your Beard) to buy online the basic products for “looking after my beard” (and I there I was thinking that growing a beard would make life easier). Shampoos, conditioners, oils, waxes, combs, tonics and an endless list of accessories that I didn’t know what they were for or how to apply them. Movember was a piece of cake compared to this. In my despair, the option was to turn to a professional, the Valle-Inclán of modern beards. And so, through clenched teeth, I met up with Marc, and over some beers he told me how to maintain a casual style and avoid ladies stopping me in the street to give me some change.
Marc uses the concept of “top 5” for everything he likes, so he revealed to me his list of the perfect temples for urbanites such as ourselves to maintain an impeccable aesthetic with very little effort.
I began my “improvised” route in the Gràcia neighbourhood, as that’s where I tend to hang out and that way I wouldn’t miss out. I stopped in front of The Barberist‘s window and was astonished. Time has definitely stopped in this place, specifically in the 1940s. Its vintage decoration, with red as the predominant colour, attracts any attention-to-detail lover. On seeing the “Come in, we’re open” sign on the door, I decided to ask the owner if I could come in just as an observer – as I still wasn’t completely convinced about leaving my new beard in the hands of a stranger – and apart from looking a little puzzled, he didn’t have a problem with it. I sat down on a comfy sofa and, just as I was about to ask for the Wi-Fi password, I noticed a stack of old magazines and comics. What gems! As I emphatically flicked through the aforementioned, I discreetly observed that there was a younger looking guy (at least I think) wrapped in a warm towel, and to his right a man my father’s age was shaving him the old fashioned way, with a straight razor. They both seemed quite comfortable. Frank Sinatra’s ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ was playing in the background, on request by the man who was telling the barber how he met his wife years ago and how they had danced to that song many times. The atmosphere was very relaxed, so it didn’t seem like a bad place to become a regular. Grateful, I got up, took one of their business cards and insisted that I’d very likely be back on another occasion.
I got to the The Barberist from Yurbban…
… by metro. After my meeting with Marc in Yurbban, I left the hotel and went left onto Via Laietana, where I found Urquinaona metro stop. From there I took the L4 and got off in Joanic (4 stops). On leaving the metro I went up Escorial Street and turned left onto Encarnació Street. Following a straight line, this becomes L’Or Street. Finally I turned right where I reached the crossing with Verdi Street and straight away I saw the barber’s. In total, a 25 minute journey.
Adress: Verdi, 74
Timetable: from Monday to Saturday from 10am a 9pm
A few streets along, the next stop was La Barberia de Gràcia,perhaps the most traditional barber’s on the list, by no means because of its style, but because – according to Marc- it is an inherited family business. The place is managed by Jordi Pérez, winner of 3 stars in the latest Qhair competition (the hairdressing equivalent of Michelin stars). Jordi has learnt all there is to know about male grooming from his father, who had a gentleman’s hairdresser a few metres from there. He mixes traditional techniques (such as the service of a traditional shave with a straight razor) with a much more avant-garde style. I peeped in to see what was happening inside. I could make out a very minimalist but very original shop. My curiosity got the better of me again and before I knew it I was inside. Nevertheless, I still wasn’t ready to sit down so I played dumb and limited myself to asking what kind of barber chairs they had, as from outside they looked like the ones you only see in old movies. Jordi very cheerfully told me that they were 1964 Takara Belmonts. I didn’t really understand, although of course I tried to pretend as if I did, adjusting my glasses. After exchanging a few more words, and taking a quick look at the different types of moustache hanging on the wall, which made me smile, I thanked him and continued on my way.
… two minutes on foot. I went right and turned left along Providència Street. At the second crossing with Torrent de l’Olla I turned right and found number 198.
Adress: Torrent de l’Olla, 198
Timetable: from Monday to Friday from 9am to 2pm and from 3pm to8pm / Saturday from 8am to 2pm
Bcn Cuts. Barber Shop
Before abandoning Gràcia I also stopped by Bcn Cuts. Barber Shop, a barber’s founded from a beautiful Boston love story which now resides in Barcelona. Marc (who else) recommended it to me, because there’s always jazz playing in the background. It seemed like an interesting option because they have special deals at a good price, and you can even sign up with them for a year. Imagining myself with a yearly subscription to a barber’s cracks me up! But given what I’ve seen, perhaps this beard obsession will last and it could be worth it. I went in to ask about prices. They could sort out my untamed beard for 14€, whilst the “president” (the annual pack) costs 190€ including a monthly haircut and discounts on their products. Not bad at all. From what I could gather they offer all sorts of services, including massages. And yes, Marc was right, they played some great tunes.
… walking in only 5 minutes. Curiously I had to take almost the same route as I had taken to get to the last place. That is, I went right and at the first corner turned left onto Betlem Street. At the second crossing with Gran de Gràcia I turned right and found the barber’s straight away.
Adress: Gran de Gràcia, 223
Timetable: from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm
Having finished the route through Gràcia, the next day I headed for the centre to visit the establishment that won the Best Spanish Barber 2015 award. Vicenç Moretó started out in the business when he was 14 years old, also learning from his father. This barber’s has been open since 1959, making it a well-known Barcelona reference. His shop is more than just a hairdresser’s, as they also occasionally organize evening events. When I got there, one of the staff was singing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen with one of the clients, which gave me the impression that good vibes were a strong point amongst Vicente Moretó and his team. I also noticed the large variety of products they had, the dream of any lumbersexual. I certainly wouldn’t know where to begin.
… on foot, in less than 20 minutes. Leaving the hotel and going straight along Trafalgar Street, I turned right onto Plaça d’Urquinaona and then left onto Ronda de Sant Pere. I carried straight on, passing Plaça de Catalunya, until I got to Ronda Universitat, which I walked along until reaching Plaça Universitat. From there I went down Ronda de Sant Antoni and just as I got to the Goya Theatre, I took a left onto Joaquin Costa Street. From there it was only a few metres walk.
Adress: Joaquin Costa, 51
Timetables: from Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 2pm and from 3pm to 7:30pm / Saturday from 9am to 1:30pm
The last place on the list seemed to me like quite an original project. One O Nine is a tattoo parlour as well as a barber’s and hairdressers. It’s a recent fusion involving the owners of Andr&S. Enobarberia, a barber’s at the heart of the Born neighbourhood. Luckily they haven’t had to move much in the area, so it was easy to find, especially with its eccentric rockabilly decor. Andrea Varini is an Italian hairdresser and barber living in Barcelona. He offered to tell me about what the business offers – from the perfect shave with an essential oil facial massage to the latest haircut. What really got my attention though was the combination of hot and cold towels, a great pleasure simply hearing how they are applied. But what really makes this place different is the symbiosis of Andrea’s professionalism and his wife Karima Sorrenino’s wine knowledge. Whilst receiving you treatment, it’s possible to taste the finest wines, which if course are on sale too. I don’t know much about wine, but if I end up making an appointment, whether to trim my beard or get a tattoo, better to blindly trust Karima’s taste in order to take the edge off the experience.
…on foot. You have to turn right on leaving the hotel then take the first right onto Passatge de Sert, going straight on until it becomes Sant Pere Més Alt. Keep going straight until you get to the Palau de la Música, where you turn left onto Mare de Déu del Pilar where you’ll find the Tattoo Barber Shop at number 15. It was a quick 5-minute journey.
Adress: de la Mare de Déu del Pilar, 15
Timetable: from Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 9pm
On Thursday I met up with Marc again to tell him about my geeky visits to the barbershops. It was only after a long time that he decided to tell me that there’s a search engine called “barberías con encanto” (charming barber’s) which would have saved me the excursion. That’s what friends are for… although the route was definitely worth it.