Barber of Hell’s Bottom
818 Rhode Island Ave., NW; 202-332-0200
Founded by Mike Thomas and Kelly Gorsuch of the 14th Street hair salon Immortal Beloved, this shop perfects a fusion of low-key cool and high-style sophistication, all in the booming Shaw neighborhood—a place once unseemly enough to be dubbed Hell’s Bottom.
The nine-chair shop offers haircuts and straight-razor shaves with an easygoing vibe and a reclaimed-meets-artful aesthetic that includes whitewashed brick, vintage mirrors, rustic wood, and one very special find: an antique barber chair salvaged from a New Jersey shop once frequented by Hollywood’s Rat Pack.
Wise Owl Club
2010 18th St., NW; 202-705-9425
A cross between classic barber and modern hipster, this Adams Morgan shop may be itsy-bitsy—and no, it doesn’t take appointments—but it attracts a big crowd. Owned by a woman who calls herself Lauren the Lady Barber, the Wise Owl Club addresses all your barbershop needs, such as straight-razor shaves and hair services, but part of the draw is thanks to the stylish-cool atmosphere.
The setup includes five 1930s barber chairs and a pop-up with products curated by DC’s Mutiny, plus a taxidermy buffalo head on the wall—naturally.
1745 L St., NW, 202-466-8900
2001 International Dr., McLean, 703-288-0355
Mike Gilman opened his first Grooming Lounge—arguably the granddaddy of today’s luxury barbershops—in downtown DC 12 years ago, followed by a second store in Tysons Galleria four years later.
Known for top-notch service in a boys’-club atmosphere—including flat-screen TVs and mahogany walls—the two locations tackle services ranging from the expected hot-lather shaves, haircuts, and color to spa treatments such as “business manicures,” hot-stone massages, and facial peels. The Grooming Lounge offers its own line of products, too.
Roosters Men’s Grooming Center
1815-C Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-625-5112
Though the first Washington location of this 70-strong nationwide chain is in an unassuming shopping center in upper Georgetown, inside is a haven of old-school masculinity, complete with seven oversize black-leather barber chairs tucked into handsome, semiprivate hardwood stations—all set to a soundtrack of vintage jazz and classic rock.
The barbers at Roosters are certified in straight-razor shaving, and you can expect such luxuries as hot-towel service and scalp massages with your cut.
The Gentlemen’s Quarters
105 S. Union St., Alexandria; 703-836-7330
Open more than a decade in Old Town, The Gentlemen’s Quarters looks the part—rich red walls, handsome wooden accents, black leather barber chairs—and acts it, too. Pour a stiff drink from the bar before settling into your service, whether a standard haircut and hot-lather shave or a dude-friendly take on everything from back facials to pedicures.
Need a shoeshine? They do that, too.
This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Washingtonian.