I commuted from Quezon City where I live all the way to BGC to try out the ‘Gentlemen’s Haircut’ by The Refined.
It was around two in the afternoon on a very warm summer day in Manila. Yes, I felt so greasy and I was sweating like a cold mineral water laid out in the sun. You have no idea how eager I was to get some ‘refinement’ because I was feeling very ‘rough around the edges’.
I went up the second floor of The Fort Strip and saw a black door that led the entrance to The Refined.
One of the ladies from the desk was courteous enough to tour me around. She explained they have seasonal pop-up shops inside where you can buy designer products and The Refined items.
B&O Play portable speakers
The leather pouch matched the leather tote bag I was carrying and I wished I could bring it home.
Leather Mod Tablet by This is Ground
I went in and it looked like a bar at first. There was a guy getting a drink. There were some ladies inside talking about buying some land. Some relatable pop music off Spotify was playing in the background.
As you go around you could tell how the place would be perfect if you were working around the area and would want to take a load off. You can buy a drink, get a massage, and ask for people to cut your hair. On some days you can even book a tattoo artist. It’s too complete.
There is a mini spa inside which they call the “Man Cave”. I found it charming in its hetero-manly kind of way and would love to try it out next time.
First step of the ‘Omega’ treatment was the shampoo and head massage. Exactly what I needed for feeling too greasy.
The lady explained she applied Nioxin shampoo which was all herbal and good for dandruff.
Afterwards she washed my face with Aloe facial wash and covered it with a nice, warm towel. An extra detail was that Whiteflower oil that she pinched near the tip of my nose for that extra kick of soothing sensation.
It was a golden moment, enough to be the cherry on top of the whole shampoo and facial experience.
While my eyes were closed with the warm towel on my face, cold minty shampoo tingling on my head, plus the scent of whiteflower oil, she gave me an arm massage which started gentle at the beginning and got rougher towards the end. It was pure bliss. I fell asleep for more than a minute.
Lastly, she gave me a face massage with cucumber moisturizer. It added extra oil on top of my existing oily skin. I couldn’t complain because I was trying to absorb everything.
I was lead to my seat and one of the ladies gave me a nice shoulder massage which lasted for about five minutes. She found my stress points immediately. Or perhaps, there were too many stress points that were impossible not to find.
Off to getting my ‘Gentlemen’s haircut’. My hairstylist’s name was Ricky. He had tattoos on his right arm with Chinese characters that meant ‘live, love, laugh’, which at that moment I thought were good traits of a gentleman.
My hairstyle was pretty specific so I just asked him to follow through. The lady who gave me a facial asked if she could cut my nails right down to the edge, which, with no hesitation, I replied with ‘of course’ plus a quick smirk that she probably missed. My nails appeared ‘edgy’ right after.
In the middle of my haircut, I was asked if I wanted a complimentary drink. Who could say no to that? I asked what he would recommend and he gave me ‘Old-fashioned’. I thought it was very befitting because I was wearing my Grandma’s shirt.
‘Old-fashioned’ was cold whisky with some honey and citrus. It tasted good enough for me to enjoy that instant kick of alcohol. I also suddenly thought of leaving a tip.
Ricky used four different kinds of shavers to get my hard-edged cut a more detailed treatment. You can really tell the difference in quality!
For example my barbers who charge less than PHP 200 haircuts (or PHP 40 haircuts when I’m broke) only used regular blades for skinning my head. Sometimes they itched afterwards and you realize your haircut was cheap. Blame yourself.
Ricky used a dry shaver as a final touch. I never experienced this before. The edges of my new cut were were cleaner and more refined. Even the buzzing on my head was so stimulating.
Overall I was very impressed to be honest. The experience was quite kingly with a hint of exaggeration. I liked it.
I walked outside feeling very light and clean; the absolute opposite of my worn-out body when I walked in.
The most important part was that I forgot I was tired for one and a half hours. I would say the entire experience was satisfying. 70% due to the perfect massage and haircut, and the rest I’d blame on the Whiskey.
Fun find: an Elon Musk biography on the table
Here’s “The Refined” vision and story explained by Noël, a former Creative Director at an advertising agency in Canada and partner of this amazing lounge:
I’m creative, I’m a designer. When I designed this place, I said to myself, “If I had a New York loft, how would I design it?” There’s a bar, there’s a lounge where I’d host my family and friends, and there’s a spa which I designed as if it were my bedroom
Here, everything is signature. Everything we do is refined. We take a typical haircut and we refine it. That’s our benchmark whenever we take anything on: HOW DO WE REFINE IT? From our drinks to our man cave (the spa) to our massages, everything was designed to be very male-centric.
The partners at The Refined always work under the assumption that their clients have busy days and busy minds. Their singular mission is to provide a safe haven for gentlemen to unwind and get away for a little bit. They also encourage gentlemen to take their business meetings and work to the space if they wanted to, because The Refined is at their service.
Beyond haircuts and massages, the bar is also well stocked with alcohol, coffee, and food that can be enjoyed while getting work done at the lounge. Noël says that the space is also equipped with WI-FI and that any of their guests are welcome to use it for as long as they want.
When they enter, they’re still at DEFCON 5. But after a 10-minute shampoo, massage, relaxed haircut and drink, they should go from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 1. It’s a recharging session.
We’re making gentlemen, because the world needs more gentlemen. We groom a gentleman inside and out. Everything we do here is refining the man to become a gentleman. We need more respect and manners in society and we start here.
Bettering the world begins with bettering oneself, and he’s on a special undertaking to make sure that the patrons of their business come out a better men.
With such vision and top-notch services, The Refined is sure to capture a strong following who longs to come back for more than a haircut, but a true journey to bettering themselves. I, for one, know will be back.
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