Old School Style: The Mandarin Barber

I am dedicating this post to DF who is one of my most loyal male readers and who I love for all his kind words and enthusiasm.  This is the Hong Kong beauty mecca for all well-heeled boys (oh…and here’s the secret: girls too). I liked this place even before I swung open the door. The name alone is just…well….cool.

But push on through and you will not be disappointed:

The second floor barber at the M.O is a bastion of gentlemen’s grooming, bristling (in every sense – if you’re a man, you’re here to get them cut off) with an easy efficiency.  The atmosphere shares the old-world charm of a private members club; but one that’s been refreshed by an interior designer.  A good one.  With taste (I sometimes feel they are in rather short supply).

We are talking lashing of old-school style, serenity and sincerity.  The staff are the HK equivalent to the chaps on Jermyn Street at Geo Trumper’s; they have worked here for years and are very good at what they do and take serious pride in doing it.

Behind the Mondrian influenced Chinese screen are all manner of male grooming services,  from a hair wash and cut, to a proper wet shave (I’m talking badger-brush-lather, open blades and hot towels), manicure and massage.  Prices are not too outlandish and start from HKD$320 (SGD$50-ish/around £25) for a wet shave.

You can make an appointment or just rock up and relax in their leather chaired reading nooks until someone’s free.


There is a discreet bar to one side that serves a mean nespresso coffee during the day (complementary, even to people just perusing) and whisky and beer after 5pm.


So what on earth would a girl get done at a barber’s? A Shanghai Pedicure apparently (in the interests of full disclosure I did not get to try this out: due to a combination of habitual clumsiness and bad shoes, I flung myself into the arms of a passer by on Friday, not before banging my beautifully pedicured foot on a horribly uneven paving stone.  I now have a seriously black and blue big toe that no one will be touching for at least a week).

Designed specifically for women, the purpose of the signature Shanghai pedi is to remove all the nasty hard skin we accumulate through suffering in high heels (it’s removed by a series of blades – forget the idea of a gentle scrub and pumice – hence the need for a barber to be in charge).

Although it was born here in the barber’s shop, they also offer this treatment at the M.O’s spa on the 24th floor, where it’s invariably booked out; masterful Mr Soe is in high demand.  I would settle for no waiting list and a colleague of Mr Soe’s any day as I’m a terrible advance booker (I also like the idea of a whisky on the rocks while I’m having it done which I bet the spa doesn’t offer).

Wherever you go, the price is sadly the same in both places and it will set you back HKD$700 (around $SGD110 or £56).