I’ve been getting my hair cut at Tiffany in Raffle’s for a few years now. It’s a huge salon that can handle 50 customers at one time. It’s also very cheap at 39 RMB (US$6) for a cut and blow dry (that’s 50% off using a friend’s discount / loyalty card). The main problem is that they are so successful that there’s often a long wait and they do not accept appointments in advance.
Tuesday I was desperate to get my hair cut as I’m long overdue for a cut. But there were 5 people waiting ahead of me for my usual stylist and I wasn’t prepared to sit and wait for 2 hours plus while flicking through Chinese fashion magazines. And Wednesday I had to fly to Beijing so I won’t have time till the weekend, by which time my hair would be in such a state I’ll have to start wearing a hat. So I got in a taxi and headed to Toni & Guy in the more exclusive Times Square shopping mall to see if they could help me out.
I was greeted by a very attractive receptionist who showed me their price list and asked which option I wanted to go for. Their prices started at 260 rmb (US$38) for a senior stylist and went up to 1200 rmb (US$176) for a cut and blow dry from their senior artistic director. I didn’t want to humiliate myself by going for the cheapest option so I went for the next one up which was 320 rmb (US$47) for a style director, who turned out to be a 24 year old fashionably dressed young man.
The whole experience was so much more relaxed than at Tiffany which was far more chaotic. While the style director cut my hair, his assistant stood close by with a big brush and every few seconds he would brush off hairs from my cape, which was both unnecessary and slightly annoying, but other than that, everything went smoothly. And the stylist gets extra points in my book for NOT using the hair thinning scissors at all, something which is so popular with Chinese hair stylists for some bizarre reason.
Overall, I would compare the Toni & Guy experience with flying business class. You pay 3 times the price (well closer to ten times really), you all get to the same destination, but you have a much more comfortable journey along the way. And of course, after having flown business class, it’s very difficult to go back to flying economy again.
They also take bookings, so in a few weeks, when my hair grows back, I can book my stylist Jimmy again at a time that’s convenient to me, and I will know I won’t have to sit around for 2 hours while the girl before me gets full head highlights with tints.