The hippest hair salons in Hong Kong tend to be quite divided by gender: trendy gents will flock to waistcoated (and often tattooed) barbers for their fades, undercuts and shaves, while ladies will seek out their favoured stylists for their balayages and trims. You’ll rarely find a spot that will be able to handle both with equal expertise, as well as offer above and beyond services like Saloon promises. Opened at Pacific Place last September, Saloon just might be Hong Kong’s next hair and beauty mecca. Lifestyle Asia recently got to trial both his and her services at the premises.
Opened under the authoritative Hair Corner brand, Saloon also has a title partnership with Japanese men’s fashion atelier Roarguns (you’ll find it on most of the the signage). Aside from a title crossover, Saloon also plans to continue having of street label collaborations: In particular, the salon’s launch featured designer Dr. Romanelli, and one private room is even decked out with artwork by installation artist Matt McCormick.
Apart from that, Saloon runs very much like a family boutique rather than a commercial salon, with a small team headed by creative director Ryan Leung, a Dessange Academy, Jean Louis David, Kim Robinson Studio and Mandarin Oriental Salon alum who previously trained with Italian hair design champion Lorena Severi, and is well versed in French cutting and colouring techniques.
Spread in a long corridor-like space of just over 400 sq. ft., the salon may be smaller than most, but it never feels cramped. “We just so happened to be able to get this spot at Pacific Place, and I wanted to condense all the best things about the hair industry into this space, hoping to exceed customer’s expectations,” says Leung. Valuing quality over quantity, you’ll find the front bench area only features four barbershop chairs — hair artist Peter Ho’s territory — and three private rooms, usually offered to female clients or available upon request, at no extra charge.
The wash basins (with one located inside one of the private rooms, so you won’t even have to step outside) are each fitted with an ozone water system. This was added in an effort to benchmark the facilities that any high-end salon should be able to offer in Hong Kong, according to Leung. Ozone gas, pumped into the water, has been acknowledged as an effective way to treat hair and scalp problems such as hair loss, thinning, dandruff and damage. “It’s like walking into a five-star hotel and simply expecting that they would have a swimming pool. We expect all A-grade salons to have this feature soon,” he says. For those planning to splurge even more on a bespoke experience, you can even order tailor-made skincare and haircare products from Saloon’s partner brand Les Ornates, which offers items such as shampoos and serums that have been whipped up to work specifically with your DNA — based on a saliva sample you send to France. It can run you up to HK$18,500, and takes a couple of weeks for your report and products to ship.
Saloon may somewhat resemble a man cave, with plenty of warm-toned wood, stone and leather fixtures, not unlike what you’d find in a whisky bar. Indeed, you can ask for a glass of Macallan while you’re having your haircut, or even order from a menu of luxurious bites by Caviar House & Prunier located just next door. The pantry is also equipped with a Natura water filtration system, which serves still and sparkling water on tap.
The detailed menu of services, with all the extra attentive fixings, is pretty hard to beat. “It’s not enough to just serve clients as just a barbershop. We also wanted to offer head-to-toe grooming and beauty services. For instance, we will offer after-shave facials for men to soothe razor cuts, and we will also offer manicures and pedicures,” Leung says. And for that, prices (at flat rates) are very reasonable for the premium attention you receive — full dye jobs cost just HK$1,600, while haircuts start at HK$760.
Her Experience — Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor
Still recovering from a botched bleach job from previous weeks, my hair was in dire need of a strengthening treatment and slight colour correction. I still wanted a light pinkish lilac tone to my yellowing tresses, where despite the great balayage technique applied to my hair, as Leung explained to me, my previous attempt to achieve the colour I wanted had failed; the pigment would not even absorb due to my damaged cuticles. My hair was so utterly damaged that the director suggested that I chop off two inches — they just weren’t worth messing with anymore. I acquiesced, and stood behind one of the barber chairs while Leung went at my mane with men’s clippers (he said that scissors wouldn’t be able to achieve a straight line anymore, because my ends were so fried), while he gave a sharper and cleaner shape to my torso-length hair. I instantly felt relieved.
Next, I was brought to the wash basin room, where the majority of my treatment would be completed: a full head tint (HK$1,600) using the L’Oreal Pastel Browns collection in lilac, which promises a subtle, pastel tone to my brunette/almost-blonde locks (or bronde, as they call it). I would then be given a soft keratin treatment, as most of the proteins in my hair were gone from excessive bleaching.
The dye itself smelled incredibly astringent, making my eyes water ever so slightly as it was applied, but thankfully it didn’t need more than 15 minutes of processing time. The treatment itself was a welcome, soothing change, also done at the basin.
After rinsing, with the slightly metallic and medicinal smell of ozone water steaming behind me, I was offered a hand and arm massage by manicurist Candy Auyeung (included in every service). Her strong pressure reached the inner tendons of my arm, really ironing out my tense smartphone hand and tiredness caused by texting and typing. She wriggled each arm to loosen up the joints, and ended with a firm shoulder rub. An assistant finished rinsing off my treatment and also ended it with a brief but relaxing temple and neck massage.
I emerged with murky purplish brown hair, but it dried to an attractive mauve colour (and in later days, washed out to an edgy auburn). More importantly, my hair was finally silky smooth with a healthy shine, and this was enhanced even more by a face-flattering layering trim that Ryan gave me, finished off with fabulously bouncy Victoria’s Secret model-esque curls (Creative Director cut and finish, HK$1,280).
Passing over to Susie Stern, the in-house makeup artist, I went from tired canvas-faced office drone to night-out ready with a versatile and attractive “day” look (HK$680). Pink smokey eyeshadow and precise brow arches surprisingly awakened my demeanor, while Susie’s expert concealing hid my tired eyebags without any ashiness. If only I wasn’t in a hurry, I would have also benefited from a 15-minute Kate Somerville relaxation facial to brighten my complexion even more.
Glammed up with the bounciest curls without going overboard, and the shiniest hair I’ve had all year, Saloon’s team was able to gave me exactly what I wanted and dared me to look even better, without going outside my comfort zone.
Total for approx. 90-minute service: HK$3,560
His Experience — Michael Alan Connelly, Editor-in-Chief
With both my hair and beard in shaggy condition and badly in need of some shaping up, I headed to Saloon in hopes that they’d be able to sort me out. Fortunately, I found myself under the good care of ‘hair artist’ Peter Ho, who cut his teeth in Toronto before making the move to Hong Kong. After taking a seat in the handsome — but not cartoonishly masculine — space, I was offered a glass of single malt whisky (yes, please!) as Peter launched into a considerate consultation to determine what I wanted to do with my messy mane.
My very straight, fairly short hair is pretty easy to cut, so I simply said that I wanted it to be cleaned up and to have a high fade — my go-to style — and the rest was up to him. He walked me through what he had in mind, given factors such as my morning routine and the shape of my face — and then got to work. Methodical and careful in his cutting, Peter slowly transformed my hair into something with finesse once again, all while engaging me in lively conversation.
To tame my bushy beard, I asked him to do whatever he thought best, as long as it suited the haircut. He proceeded to trim away my whiskers in the same methodical way, taking care to taper the sides while leaving length near the chin in order to elongate my face. After sitting up in the chair and checking myself out in the mirror, I was immediately impressed by how well the haircut (HK$790) and beard trim (HK$480) worked together to make me look my best.
The procedure wasn’t over yet, however, as I was whisked away into the washing room for shampooing and rinsing. It was here that I experienced the sheer joy of having my hair washed and head and neck massaged while simultaneously receiving a hand and arm massage — all while reclining in the chair. After a long day of work, this was the ultimate relaxing experience, and it nearly lulled me into sleep.
Forcing myself to get up and return to the barber chair was the most challenging part of the whole process, but I managed to overcome my sleepiness for a final bit of styling. At this point, Peter did a final review of his work on my hair and beard, making some small adjustments as necessary to ensure that everything looked perfect. The application of a pomade and some hairspray were all that was needed to complete the look, and I went happily on my way, looking about 100 times better than I had when I walked into the place.
I’m not usually one for getting my hair cut at shopping centre salons, but overall experience and level of service at Saloon was so high that I’d be willing to make an exception. Rather than feeling rushed, as I do at so many other barber shops, this was more than just a haircut — it was a restorative and relaxing escape from a hectic day, and that, in my opinion, is worth spending more money than I normally would on my hair and beard.
Total for approx. 75-minute service: HK$1,270
Saloon Roarguns, Shop 309, 3/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2997 9600