Vegs Bright writer Kelly Lamrock shares his royal shave experience at The Art of Shaving inside the Grand Canal Shoppes.
You don’t need me to tell you that Vegas is a town of indulgence and experiences. As we get a bit wiser and more sophisticated (never say older!), we sometimes look for the smaller pleasures in life. The epic drunken night of revelry is fine, but sometimes we seek out the hour of peace that smaller indulgences offer. That little personal touch – the pricey but well-crafted cocktail, the spa treatment, the expensive cigar, and even the joy of free beers and judgment-free video poker – these are the things we allow ourselves in Vegas but would not splurge on at home.
And so it was that I had pledged that this time, on a father-son trip to Vegas with my Dad, I would experience the hot shave from a barber wielding a straight razor. I knew I would have to splurge – my Vegas Bright colleague Mr. James had done us all the service of sharing his mugging at the hands of a discount Sweeney Todd wannabe at El Cortez. So when I saw that The Art Of Shaving at The Venetian was offering a “Royal Shave”, I decided to make an appointment.
I arrived a bit early for my appointment in the Grand Canal Shoppes and enjoyed St. Mark’s Square. There was a new show on display, a kind of Italian bergomasque of what appeared to be a classic love story (young, singing lovers, disapproving family unit…you get it). I grabbed some very good gelato at the new stand there and happily waited until my appointed hour.
The Art Of Shaving has a nice, classic barbershop in the back. All black leather and silver chrome, it offers three chairs and the kind of friendly ambiance you might find in a small town barbershop. “Mike”, a friendly fellow who had entered into the trade following national service, greeted me by name with a firm handshake and an air that communicated that he could be trusted to wield sharp objects near my face.
The Royal Shave can best be thought of as a mini-spa treatment involving a shave. The straight razor part was likely a third of my time in the chair. Steaming hot towels often preceded scented oils, with pleasant, classic scents like peppermint, lemon, and sandalwood. I can report that no one is in a rush here – the towels are steaming hot and between the heat and the pre-shave oil, there was no resistance left in my scruff when the shave arrived. There were two rounds of hot towels and facial treatments, and post-shave I was treated to a facial mask of scents and invited to “enjoy the aromatherapy” for ten minutes before the final cooling treatment and lavender balm was applied.
I am no expert, but I can report that my face and neck were ridiculously smooth and soft after. Better still, I did feel genuinely refreshed by not just the treatment but the atmosphere. Mike was good at banter and stories, and the tiny shop buzzed with the kind of easy chatter that you’d expect in an old-school barbershop.
In addition to the $65 charge and a tip for the great service I got, the store offers a third off their products for those who indulge in a barber treatment. I picked up some bourbon-scented shave oil and balm and some peppermint-scented shave cream, and I will say that these allow my morning ritual to remind me of the Vegas indulgence (I also have not had a cut or ingrown hair since I started the three-step shave process, so it really does pay off).
Combined with a trip to a cigar lounge or a classic cocktail spot like the Dorsey, this would be a great way to start a guys’ trip (or give one guy an afternoon of “me time” that will make his Vegas trip special). The classic shave is not a ritual you skimp on, but if you’re willing to pay a little more it is well worth it.
[Photo Cred. Kelly Lamrock & Fisherman]