Muddy cut: The Chapel, T.Wells

I’ve been curious to try out The Chapel in Tunbridge Wells and tell you about it for some time now. There’s lots about this venue that’s really very Muddy – it’s cool and quirky; it’s a totally ‘word of mouth’ place (they never advertise and there’s no external signage on the salon) and they do things a little differently (you pay for their services by the hour, rather than per treatment!). So what is it really like inside? Did my cut and colour live up to all the hype? And, er, where exactly is it? Find out the answer to these questions, and much more, here. Coat off, gown on and please do step this way…

You’ll find the T.Wells salon in Chapel Place, in the heart of the old bit of town, right opposite Hall’s Bookshop (if you haven’t yet browsed in this indie treasure trove of a book store, I suggest you do!). Here, you can see The Chapel peaking from the side alley in my photo above. Slide down the little walkway and voila! There’s no sign, so just take my word for it. Go on, be brave and go through that big wooden door…

This cool, quirky and beautiful building (I think you might be ahead of me here) did actually really once used to be a Baptist chapel. There’s been a fair bit of refurbishment since then and now the interior is all painted steel staircases and funky soft furnishings. This, below, is what you’ll find inside.

There’s a cool, high-end vibe about the place, but it’s very relaxed and definitely not stuck up or intimidating at all. In fact when the founders Amanda and Toby Dicker were setting up their small chain of salons – The Chapel salons can also be found set back off London Road in Sevenoaks, as well as Islington, oh and Verbier – the top priority was creating an environment where their guests feel at home. It’s a vibrant, light space and rather than just a trip to the hairdressers going here is more of an experience. Check out the Colour Workshop for a start.

The Chapel prides itself on being particularly good with colour, which is lucky because the mission to cover my grey hair is becoming the Everest for colourists across the county. And I’m quite fussy about colour – I like it to be as close to my natural brown as possible, but with highlights that lift my face and tone in well and it needs to sufficiently cover those nasty, wiry greys. Luckily I found myself in the very capable hands of hair colour specialist, Symon, who really spent the time at the beginning asking me what I did and didn’t like about my hair. Here I am, half-way through the treatment, looking good, eh?!

I’m far too nervous to commit to permanent colour on my hair, but Symon, suggested a Shades EQ service – a semi-permanent haircolor that delivers colour, shine, and condition to hair (praise be!). Once your colour is on there’s no uncomfortable drier to sit under, instead you are lead upstairs to the relaxation area, given hot drinks, books and magazines to relax with. Blisssssss.

As you can see, a lot of attention is paid to the little details here – this place is like the hair salon version of a spa day. Which is why, when your colour is ready to come off, you are lead up another set of stairs to the wash basins. This is a super relaxing space – and bathed in quiet (no phones in here and the only conversations are respectful whispers.) I think I might even have fallen asleep *blushes*…

The view from my super relaxing shampoo basin, before I took a snooze zzzzzzzzzz

Then for your cut you’re seated back on the first floor, in the balcony area. A word here about pricing, as this salon does things a little differently. Colours and cuts are charged by time (from £50 to £100 per hour) at a price agreed before you’re sat in the chair.

Once you’ve had a relaxed, conversational consultation with the guest relations team, you’ll be quoted a fixed estimation and the salon assures me that they never charge more than the quoted time, even if they run over.

So, meet Rhys, the fab stylist who tamed the Muddy barnet into sleek submission.

The theory behind the pricing, as Rhys explains, allows them to unleash their creative freedom, use all the products and treatments that they think your hair needs without the anxiety of surprise ‘extra’ service costs incurring. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like this idea. On occasion, over the years, I’ve had my stomach fall to my ankle-boots when I’ve been presented the bill at the end of a cut and colour and it’s been twice the figure I expected. So want to know how much my hair cost and see the end result? Ta-da!

I was super pleased with my hair, not just the cut and colour, but the condition too. And all this cost £160 which, sure, is no small amount of money but for a top quality salon surprisingly reasonable, I think. Especially after a friend (with very similar hair to mine) told me the next day that she’d spent over £200 at another salon in town.

Why not give it a whirl yourself? You may be surprised at how the pricing compares to other salons you have tried and at the very least you’ll have a quality cut and full pampering experience. I’ll eat my hat (or should I say hairnet?) if you don’t feel better for it!

Chapel Place, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1YQ, Tel: 01892 549900, thechapel.co.uk

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent