Image above: West and Hunter
Going all out for customer care
It is a bit odd writing a piece about a gentlemen’s luxury grooming place, not being a gentleman (or any kind of man – she / her and always have been) but West and Hunter on Chiswick High Rd is such a pleasant place to hang out I could almost wish I qualified.
It’s comfy, in a luxurious way (big leather sofas, cigars, coffee, an interesting choice of drinks, big screen TV for watching the sport du jour) good for chilling, but also has that spa smell – citrus I think – which gives you the impression you’re in for a refreshing and revitalising experience.
You are, if Zamaine’s recommendations online are anything to go by. A trip to West and Hunter is universally regarded as a five star experience, and that takes some doing that there’s not one moaning Minnie wanting to take the shine off their reputation.
How does a male grooming place achieve five stars? Excellent customer care. Zamaine and his two colleagues are all very experienced in the business of barbering. They offer a ‘bespoke’ service Zamaine told me. I raised an eyebrow. Surely every haircut is ‘bespoke’ by definition? His explanation of how they talk to customers about what they want, how they want their haircut to look, and the whole package of services they offer made all clear.
Images above: A client having a beard trim; West and Hunter exterior
More than 30 years of barbering experience
A flashback to the 1980s and an encounter with a hairdresser in Streatham. “Have a look through this magazine and show me which cut you’d like”. I looked at these impossibly glamorous women with big hair curled and teased and dutifully picked one. “Let’s look at the photograph and look at your actual hair” he said sorrowfully. I slunk out, humiliated with the regulation Farrah Fawcett ‘shag’ haircut, never to return to that particular salon.
A depressingly common experience, according to Zamaine Ismail, founder-owner of West and Hunter:
“A lot of people are intimidated by hairdressing salons and often it is the people who are intimidated who become the most loyal customers. Once they find someone they like coming to, they stick with you.”
A trip to his salon is about as far from my 1980s experience as you can get.
“You will notice there’s not a single picture of a hair style on show” he says. With more than 30 years’ experience between them, they don’t need a manual. Paul Dos Reis was until recently the manager of Genco. Shadia Alex worked in a luxury barber in Fulham for 13 years only changing because she wanted to go part time. Every member of the team has more than 12 years experience as a barber.
Zamaine himself is a Master Barber who had established himself over the previous ten years as a hair stylist whose clients included pop stars and footballers, before opening his own luxury male grooming emporium.
Images above: Zamaine give’s Chiswick Calendar reporter Matt Smith a haircut; photograph Alanna McCrum
Many customers work from home now
I am delighted he is doing so well. Opening the shop during a pandemic could not have been a more inauspicious start. He opened on Friday 16 October 2020, in the premises that had previously been Cath Kidston’s bag shop, thinking the worst of the pandemic was behind us, but within two weeks we were in lockdown. With the cost of refitting the shop to pay off, Zamaine has only been able to open it for less than 12 of the past 18 months, but he has not only survived but thrived.
READ ALSO: West and Hunter, luxury barbershop opens
Despite the drawbacks of the pandemic, Covid, it has also benefitted the business in an unexpected way, because Zamaine is finding quite a lot of his customers now work from home and he is busier during the week than he is on Saturdays.
Images above: West and Hunter and Balmain products
Coconut, argan oil and silk
He has developed relationships with other local businesses such as Soho House and Enjoy Work, which runs the Chiswick Business Park. He has expended his service menu, so loyal clients get reductions for repeat haircuts or for introducing a friend. West and Hunter is also a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering our subscribers 15% off bespoke haircuts or luxury shave services, all year round.
Zamaine has launched his own range of male grooming products, exclusive to West and Hunter:
“We’ve used coconut throughout the range – a light, natural fragrance which is distinctive but not overly masculine”.
They are a prestige partner of couturiers Balmain. Each line has its own distinctive fragrance: Argan oil and Silk as well as coconut.
The five star customer care experience includes facials, with an optimal skincare routine, and even a bowl of water and snacks for you dog.
Image above: West and Hunter private hire for a social event
A great start to a stag do
One of the things which is different about West & Hunter, making it more like a gentleman’s club, is the social side. Because of West and Hunter’s clientele in film and television, the Aquaman II wrap party was held there.
A visit to West and Hunter also makes a good start to a stag night. We all know how those end up, but the equivalent of a women’s hen do starting with sessions at a spa is to start your stag do with canapes and sushi, a drop of whisky and a nice shave. A good ice breaker for friends from different parts of the groom’s life and something they can feel comfortable doing with the father in law to be.
Explore the world of West and Hunter through their website, or wander in and have a chat with them.
West & Hunter
125 Chiswick High Road
London W4 2ED
Tel: 0203 874 7741
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See also: The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme
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