Inside An Underground Barber Shop That Caters To New York's Wealthiest (And Best-Groomed) Men

homage atelier luxury men's spaThe lobby of Hommage Atelier on Madison Avenue.

Photo: Meredith Galante/Business Insider

Hidden behind a plain grey door on Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan, one would never expect to find the stark, posh Hommage Atelier.The luxury men’s grooming salon has dozens of locations in hotels and department stores around the globe, but the New York spot is the only one that is free-standing.

And it’s a paradise for men who like to primp, providing services such as haircuts, shaving, and manicures for men in a XY-chromosome-only environment replete with the latest technology, products infused with diamonds, and exclusive liquors.

“The clientele we’re going after is accustomed to five-star hotels, first-class flights, the best of the best,” said Tom Wilscam, CEO and founder of Hommage. “So we want to provide an environment here at Hommage that fits their lifestyle.”

The Price of Beauty

Currently, an executive shave costs $125, hair cuts run from $120 to $650 (depending on the notoriety of your stylist), and a back wax costs $100. But soon the company will move to a membership model where returning customers get first dibs on appointment times and have the feeling of “belonging” to something, Wilscam said.

The first-class treatment isn’t limited to facial grooming. Once inside, customers receive an iPad2 to play with, while they relax on leather seats, waiting their turn. When it’s time, the staff escorts customers to a private changing room where they can slip into a kimono.

Only four clients are scheduled at a once in the New York outpost—and that’s during rush hour. At the grooming station, clients relax in the leather La-Z-boy recliner: no hard stools here.

Then, turn on the mirror. It may look ordinary, but with one flick of a switch a projection of ESPN’s Sports centre (if you’re truly here to relax) or Bloomberg TV appears in the glass so you don’t miss a second of market action while being tended to. The aesthetic inside Hommage is too minimalist to be cluttered with even flat screen TVs.

High-End Clientele

So what types of people actually indulge in these costly services?

Well, the staff told us of one client who requested a perfect shave two weeks ago, saying that “Barack always teases him” that he’s so unkempt—and who clearly wasn’t afraid to name drop.

The overbooked executive can pop in during his lunch hour, and Hommage beauticians will perform several treatments at once. One person will massage your Blackberry thumb and give you a manicure, while the stylist cuts your hair.

But for the gentleman who is looking to lounge, Hommage will make sure he enjoys his time inside.

“We believe in the philosophy that men have three places,” explained Wilscam. “Work, home, and then either the bar or the gym. But we’d like their third place to be Hommage Atelier. So we make it a place a man would want to relax.” 

Stocked to the Nines

All the products Hommage stocks and sells are specifically made for men as well. For example, the black diamond exfoliation, a $125 treatment, would be too tough for a woman’s skin, but is perfect to penetrate a man’s coarse beard.

While unwinding, beverage options include espresso, sparkling water, and a rotating array of exclusive liquors that you can’t even find inside a New York City bar, such as smooth amber six-year-old whiskey.

The price of beauty may be high at Hommage Atelier, but Wilscam said it’s more than a pure indulgence.

“The level of luxury spending declined once the recession hit, but this is not frivolous luxury spending; it’s responsible,” he said. “It’s for health, wellness, and for men to stay competitive in their jobs. Looking well-groomed is a necessity.”

hommage atelier luxury men's spaThe grooming stations at Hommage Atelier.

Photo: Meredith Galante/Business Insider

hommage atelier luxury men's spaThe main table at Hommage Atelier.

Photo: Meredith Galante/Business Insider

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