I firmly believe that a good connection with your hairdresser is crucial for a happy existence. If you try to express how you want to look, they need to be able to understand you. If you aren’t sure how you want to look, they need to understand you so well that they can work it out anyway. Luckily, Ian Hampson at The Chapel hairdressers in Tunbridge Wells knew exactly what I wanted when I spread my hands and said, “Ummm, I’m open to suggestions.” Maybe a good hairdresser has secret telepathic powers, which makes it a good thing that they are in the top five most trusted professions (I’m sure my thoughts are safe with Ian).
My initial consultation was a very relaxed afternoon appointment with a full tour of The Chapel’s incredible space, within a former chapel, just off the old high street in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Upon arrival, the hospitality team welcome you at a sweeping desk; I found out later this was in the shape of the number ‘9’ in honour of their original address in the iconic Pantiles. At the back of the salon, the colour studio is decorated with huge paintings to explain how colour matching is done for each individual and a centrally positioned workbench allows visitors to have a hands-on look at the range of products and equipment used here. Upstairs, a quiet room with eclectic sofas provides a space for you to wait whole your colour develops, while the style magic takes place in a pristine mezzanine area with individual mirrored areas. The real showstopper is an incredible natural wood-panelled room in the chapel’s attic, which holds rows of seats for clients to have their hair washed, all bathed in a calming pink light.
Ian gave me a full tour before we returned to the comfortable seats in the welcome area, where I had his full attention to discuss styles and colours. The Chapel prides itself on a bespoke service with a single stylist; no junior washes your hair at this salon! By the time came to have my cut, I was very comfortable with Ian and very excited about the style that we had chosen. My hair can be a bit tricky because of its fine strands and sneaky curls (check out the “before” picture taken in the salon), but I was completely confident that Ian understood perfectly how to handle it!
It is worth mentioning that we had also planned on a colour in the initial consultation but I had a little reaction to a skin test and had to call in to postpone until I could check my sensitivity to specific products. It is typical of the level of care and service at The Chapel that the first thing that anyone said was to ask whether I was OK!
On the day, I was able to have a further chat with Ian while enjoying a hot chocolate and even managed to get some advice about colour allergy from specialist Rebecca. The Chapel uses mostly REDKEN products, which smelled amazing as Ian washed my hair and gave me a soothing scalp massage. We had a lovely chat while he cut my hair and he made me feel completely comfortable and pampered at every step (thank you, Ian!). During the whole experience, I barely noticed other clients as I moved between the carefully designed spaces of the salon, which has the effect of making you feel as though the whole building and staff have been placed here for your exclusive use. The final cut was exactly what I wanted and I have been swishing it around (as much as you can swish short hair) with glee and newfound confidence every day since.
Even if you can’t find the time to escape to the country for a few days to get a haircut in Tunbridge Wells, The Chapel hairdressers also have salons in Islington, Sevenoaks and Verbier, Switzerland (if you’re spending the winter on the slopes). The Chapel’s friendly and professional experts definitely seem to be able to read your mind and see exactly what it is that you want from your salon experience. With the focus always on the customer, they will make you feel incredibly special for the duration of your visit and will create a look for you that will make you feel special long after you get home…
The Chapel Hairdressers Tunbridge Wells
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN1 1YQ