A month ago, the Gellei brothers had no idea how successful their shop on Dob Street would become. The trend of bringing back classic barber shops took off in the US about three or four years ago, and finally reached Hungary as well, so now fans of classic haircuts have an official haunt here. The barbers are funny, and the relaxed atmosphere is quickly felt by guests, as well, so it is no wonder that the benches in front of the shop are usually full of men waiting for their cut.
Back to our grandfathers’ time
Dob Street is a real Central European melting pot: on an average Thursday night, we can see men dressed as ballerinas for a bachelor party, old ladies walking dogs, hipsters, and professionals flying out of their neon-lit office hatcheries. Barber Shop Budapest settled down in the middle of this swarm, marked by a genuine blue-white-and-red spinning barber pole.
The Gellei boys did not open the shop to soak their hands in lukewarm water all day and cut the hair of their guests in the same manner as any other hair salon in town. In this barbershop, we find a macho attitude, the easily recognizable Barber Shop signature haircut, and barbers working in uniform denim aprons.
The third generationThe store’s founders are the descendants of the
Gellei family: their grandfather had a barber shop in Kispest before moving to Váci Street, while their father had one in Bartók Béla Street. As the third generation, András and Áron opened their shop in the city center after living in Australia for awhile. They longed for their home and also brought a few things with them. One thing is sure, they really know what they are doing: barber shops are really popular in Western Europe and in Australia, and started to spread in the US just a few years ago, as well.
The foreign impact can be felt in the interior, too. The walls are defined by exposed bricks, and the equipment by wooden surfaces. The guys’ father put together the counters from MÁV pallets; the coat rack is made out of deer antlers; the walls are decorated by old scissors and razor blades, all part of the family heritage; and a few Australian memories can be seen, like a boomerang and a surfboard. We do not know why, but this strange mixture of styles creates a rather cozy atmosphere.
The tattooed guys (in addition to the brothers, they also have a few friends working here) studied their trader at completely different places, but they definitely have one thing in common: they are barbers, and proud of it – they gave us ice-cold looks whenever we accidentally called them hairdressers.
The city is full of “inexpensive” cut and go places, where the hairdressers meddle around with your head after completing a two-week course, and then ask for around 2,500-3,000 Forints for washing, drying, and putting on some gel. Barbershops were only run by old folks, but they gradually grew incapable of work and left Budapest without any decent barbershops. There is another similar place in addition to Barber Shop Budapest, but the concept is different: they also offer a dress salon and other functions.
Barber Shop Budapest is different: the price list is easy to follow. They tell you the complete cost, which includes a welcome drink, washing, and optionally, a beard cut.There is no school like the old school...
The classic barbershop chairs – weighing nearly 400 pounds – were made by an American company and were transported here by sea, taking about six months. The company usually manufactures modern furniture, but still made these pieces by special request, so we certainly will not see the same chairs anywhere else.
The treatment begins with us choosing a classic hairdo from the board of a famous Dutch barbershop. According to Áron Gellei, the shop’s manager, a modern cut can be good too, but they represent a different line. “Old school has been invented once and looks good ever since. We will not do football player haircuts and other foolish things,” he says.
We suspect that allowing us to choosing the haircut style is a trick, because the boys seem to know what picture we will point at as soon as we step in. We do not know how they do it, but even we could not have dreamt up a better style, and the realization is excellent, as well.
The furnishings are old, but the tools and materials are absolutely modern, and almost all of them are from the US. The order never changes: first comes the washing, then the trimming and scissor-cut; and then comes the hot towel, the blade, and the pomade. The result is an unmistakably classic hairstyle.
A simple cut is 3,500 forints, or 6,000 forints with a beard cut. Soon they will offer gift cards, as well – girlfriends, prepare your wallets if you want to give your special someone a manly makeover!
Barber Shop Budapest is a good-humored men’s club, where the employees are all buddies, and the guests can enjoy a masculine beautifying session. You will not faint from the smell of perm chemicals here, and there are no appointments or uncomfortable small talk. Just old-school faces and classic shapes.