Going to a new hairdresser is scary. Actually, going to any hairdresser is scary when you’re an AnxietyBot like me, but a new one has the added complication of not knowing whether you’ll walk out with a badger-striped hatchet-job that you paid many pounds for and — being British — didn’t have the nerve to be honest about. “I love it! Thank you so much! Punk zebra was exactly the look I was going for!”
Going to The Chapel was a very different experience from what I’m used to, though. Instead of walking in through a plate glass door and sitting conspicuously in the world’s brightest waiting area stared at by impossibly beautiful faces from posters and magazines, The Chapel feels more like going to a spa. The door isn’t immediately obvious, which makes you feel like a cool know-it-all the second time you go, and you walk into a welcoming hall that’s separate from people waiting and ogling newcomers out of boredom.
The reception staff are actually nice and not at all haughty (more than once I’ve felt like I should have worn a bag over my head while being visually interrogated by snooty receptionists), and guide you through to a cosy lounge area with unbelievably inviting soft sofas to recline on while you wait for your stylist.
But it gets better. While you’re waiting, you can have your choice of complimentary drink (I went for water because it was roasting outside, but someone near me had wine — you go, lady) and they bring it with a KitKat. Honestly, most days the gap between me and happiness is exactly the size and shape of a two-finger KitKat, so this was a very good development.
My stylist, Daniel, came through to see me and we sat on the scrumptious velvet sofa to discuss what I’d like. Since I was after colour as well as a cut, they needed to do a patch test (as all good salons should), which is why I needed to come in twice.
We talked everything through, I did my usual “my hair is terrible please fix it” face while not actually providing concrete details, and Daniel translated my general gestures of “LOOK AT IT” hopelessness into a battle plan for cut and colour.
However, as it turned out, Daniel wasn’t available for the date I needed to have the actual work done (my fault — it had to be a very specific day), so he briefed another stylist, Sian, and saved me having the conversation over again. The patch test came out fine, so we were away.
Cut, colour and KitKats
On the day, the lovely Sian took me through what she’d discussed with Daniel and checked I was happy with it. My hair had gone very brassy from lots of heat styling and general neglect, and was also pretty dry and ratty at the ends. So a trim and graduated highlights that wouldn’t obviously ‘grow out’ seemed like the best plan, with a much prettier tone of blonde on the lighter bits.
The whole process took four hours from start to finish, including washing and conditioning, highlights and haircut.
It was all very relaxed, with every step explained to me and lots of cups of tea while I put my feet up for the colour to develop. The salon is incredibly peaceful, especially for central London, with both the airy top floor and cosy lower floor feeling refreshingly private.
I can’t stand having my hair cut while people gawp through the window — thankfully The Chapel’s are all frosted.
I felt very at-home the whole time — it honestly makes such a difference to sit on a big comfy L-sofa with your feet up on a pouffe while you’re waiting, rather than somewhere so white and glossy, it could pass for an Apple Store.
Did I like my hair as much as I loved the salon? Well, here’s the result:
I think we can all agree it’s approximately ten bajillion times better. The highlights lighten so subtly that I don’t have to worry about regrowth, and there’s more lightness at the front to flatter my face. The ends are tidy and all the straw-like bits have gone, and the whole thing has much more shape and manageability.
As well as the final haircut, I think the mark of a good salon is whether you come away knowing more about caring for your hair than you did before. The Chapel gets full marks on this front: my stylist gave me loads of tips for what products to use and how, and even where to get them for cheapest. And she introduced me to the Wet Brush for brushing wet hair without wrecking it, which has absolutely changed my life. I had no idea these existed and they work so well! [Any cynics thinking she was just trying to get a commission, they’re not actually sold in the salon, I got mine from Amazon. So it was a genuine tip].
I’ve given it a bit of time since the haircut to see how it washes and styles, and I can honestly say I’m so happy with it. The colour is perfect for summer and my Casper-toned skin, and the cut retained most of the length without the manky bits. But above all, what I really loved about The Chapel was the feeling of calmness you get whenever you go there — it’s cosier and less frenetic than some of the chain salons, and you really get personal attention from the staff, who seem to care as much about your hair as you do.
Instead of an anxious thing to be dreaded, visiting The Chapel is like taking your hair for a spa day, and we both came out more relaxed for it.
The Chapel currently has branches in Islington, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Switzerland (as you do!). If you pay them a visit, save a KitKat finger for me.