Here’s How To Spend The day At The World's Most Luxurious Male Spa
When Dubai grooming lounge 1847 was recognised as the Top Luxury Male Spa in the World at the World Luxury Spa Awards, it seemed a matter of duty that we should investigate just how they took home the prize.
But by sending me, a man from the north of England – where parting your hair on a different side is considered unnecessarily vain – it ensured that this would be no easily won validation. The luxury would have to be quantified and earned.
Of course, I'm no stranger to 1847 and its signature sliding door, but most luxurious in the world is a heck of a title to walk away with. Just how high does this thing go? What are we saying here – facials with diamonds in them? Well, yes, actually, they do two.
So, How Does The World’s Most Luxurious Male Spa Play Out?
The Dubai Mall salon – they have 11 in total in the UAE – is certainly a step above the norm at first glance. Nothing outrageously new, think classic old-world luxury starring dark wood furnishing, pine floorboards and cream sofas, but what it does, it does it well. The fact that it also has a neat spot entrenched in Fashion Avenue means that it also doesn't want for well-heeled footfall.
I was there to experience the pillars of male grooming. The classics, if you will? Haircut, shave, mani-pedi, massage and facial. Basically all the things that make me feel a little awkward until I’m at least 100 yards away from the salon.
Something I was interested in, however, were the self-care benefits. If 2019 has achieved anything, positive, it’s the focus and validity of mental health issues, and now there’s a whole host of apps, classes and wellness techniques that cater to it. But it occurs to me that a day at the spa falls into this category, too. This is self-care in its most literal sense, and while you'll hopefully leave looking sharp, the thinking time that comes with a day at the spa can be just as important.
Now, your choice of barber is something you shouldn't take lightly. Not only are you trusting them with a style that you need to manage every day, but the barbershop is also, traditionally, another bastion of mental health. This is where guys go to talk about their issues, right?
Persevere past the classic ‘where are you from?’ and holiday chat and get to know each other. One thing we learned is that, here, delivering a decent cut is a matter of family pride. At 1847, many of the barbers are from Syria. Here, barbers are multi-skilled, and not only would they cut your hair, but they’d likely also be the village dentists, too.
When it comes to styling, we're in a no rules era these days. Combine that with people going all-out for the festive season and anything can happen. "If you're considering dying your hair then you should probably keep it short and buzzed," says 1847 senior barber, Hamzah Al Asmi. "Make sure you invest in a good conditioner and shampoo – and stay away from the chlorine. Remember, if you have dark hair, you'll need to bleach. DO NO TRY THIS AT HOME." But while a dye-job is only for the mavericks out there, when it comes to a fresh cut, just make sure you balance your grooming to fit. See David Beckham for visual reference. "If you're going for a messier look with your hair, then make sure that your facial hair is neat and week groomed."
Tip: The water in Dubai is harsh, so go for a nourishing hair mask post-trim to keep follicles strong.
What's great about a day in the private room at 1847 is exactly that, you're self-contained. Normally, if you're mixing up treatments you'll likely have to run the gauntlet between massage room, barber’s chair and everything else in between. Here the magic happens and nobody gets a peak at the operation until it's done.
While a massage can often seem like an indulgence that you have to scramble to make time for, it's one that's worth the effort. There are around seven massage treatments on offer, here, with a range from sportsman-specific to hot stone. Our advice is to work your way through the menu bit by bit. Just keep one thing in mind: no two months should go by without you booking in a treatment. Whether that's to soothe aching muscles post-gym, to help realign your posture after too many days spent in the office, or simply just for an hour’s worth of head space… this is valuable time.
Tip: Make full use of your lunch hour and book in for a Body Boost express massage. Your end of day productivity will go through the roof.
There's a lot more to a good facial than pretending you're in American Psycho when the face mask is applied (although that part is fun). When it comes down to it, living in the Middle East means that dehydration and the effects of the sun will combine to dry out your skin and increase the chances of fine lines. With that in mind, a facial should be a treatment you seek out every six weeks. Possibly more if you're a frequent flyer too.
The best idea? Add it on to a massage for a full indulgence. Not only is it a great 90 minutes or so worth of relaxation time – a good face massage could well be one of the most underrated experiences of all-time – but you'll also learn how to look after your mug in-between treatments. We'll leave you to find out more from 1847, but our take-home was this: Drink more water. Wear sunscreen every day. Eat tomatoes, they're good for the skin. Exfoliate twice per week, it'll help clean and close the pores – but be gentle as they can be a little tough on the skin. Finally, go the full Bateman with a face mask once per week.
Tip: It's easy to honour your commitment to a six-week facial plan. Try the Express treatment here and get the job done in 30 minutes.
At 1847, they use Murdoch London products. They're pretty cool, but it occurs to me that people without beards are really missing out. I couldn't grow a beard – I don't have the patience – but I'd be lying if I said it didn't irk me to think there is this whole range of products out there that I can't really use.
When it comes down to it, a professional shave can be a little tense. While the barber expertly picked apart my five-day stubble in carefully chosen sections, I employed a heart control technique normally reserved for passing lie-detector tests.
But this is a keep going sort of thing. After a while a treatment like this feels like a real indulgence. Plus, you'll walk away looking and feeling great. Note to self: the best part is probably the lathering of the foam with the shaving brush. Even if you don't get a shave, buy a badger's hair brush and just do this bit regularly. It can be a bit of you-time that nobody need know about.
If you'd rather avoid a shave and work on your beard game, however, Al Asmi, explains the essentials. "There are two main focus points that you need to concentrate on to keep your beard game strong," he eplains. "Make sure you maintain it with regular trims, but also pay extra attention to moisturising it with some good quality product."
Tip: Go for the 1847 Shave and get a facial scrub thrown into the bargain ahead of the shave or beard shaping.
It doesn't matter how good the cut of your Tom Ford suit is, if you're throwing out a hand that resembles Frodo's from Lord of The Rings in the boardroom, chances are the deal will be dead in the water before your sit down (unless your deal is a Lord of the Rings theme park. In which case, way to go all-out, my man).
At 1847 you can kick back and relax with a cup of tea while two nail technicians clip, smooth and shine. You'll likely get an unofficial consultation thrown in, too, basically amounting to little snippets of advice, dependant on the state if your own hands and feet. Mine was short and sharp. Of the: do you never do this? variety (short answer: no). There was a moment where my working class fully roots fully kicked in and I didn’t really know where to look while my cuticles were given a dedicated MOT. Parity was restored by refusing the extra shine option for my nails.
Tip: Throw in a Relaxer head, neck and shoulder massage while the mani-pedi is on the go for extra relaxation points.
Your grooming game should be embraced with the dedication that you scan sneaker drop websites, and by booking a day at 1847, you’re not only focussing your external style, but also making some valuable time to yourself into the bargain. The barber’s is traditionally a place for men to kick back… 1847 simply takes this idea to the next level.