Explore Reading’s pub correspondent James Moore prefers pints to preening. Can newly-opened male salon Hobson & Quinn convince him to give male grooming a try?
Hobson & Quinn is a new grooming salon for men on Cross Street. An independent business opened by Reading local, Nick Piasecki, it’s part barbers, part spa. They mix a menu of haircuts, shaves and beard trims with manicures, facials and waxing treatments tailored for men.
Male grooming is an industry on the rise at the moment. Fashionable haircuts, hipster beards and using ‘product’ all bang on-trend. Although male salons are increasing in popularity they’re still rather niche, so I’m interested to see what Hobson & Quinn have to offer and if they could really make grooming appeal to all men.
Inside, first impressions are good. Unlike lots of spas, decor is monochrome with straight edges of black and white everywhere. It’s somewhat masculine but not overly-so. Staff offer a very warm welcome and, despite the exposed brickwork walls, it’s pleasantly warm inside. Pleasingly there aren’t any of the cringy photos of attractive people with amazing hair on the walls, as you might find in a lot of salons. Aside from the exposed brickwork, nothing else about it screams ‘hipster’ either. It’s both interesting and classy, but without making anyone feel like it might not be ‘for them’.
There are all the usual haircut services and washes here, along with the full range of beard services for more hirsute gentlemen. I settle down for the beard trim in one of the comfy chair contraptions you find in most barbers with a beverage from Reading company Kingdom Coffee, freshly brewed on-site. There’s no beer on offer here, but that’s probably a good idea when there’s scissors around.
Although I’ve had a beard for four years, I’ve never considered having it trimmed by someone else before. But the female therapist is friendly and efficient, tidying up my beard with a mixture of clippers and scissors in about 20 minutes. Despite my initial reservations, I must admit my beard looked pretty great afterwards, and I’d definitely consider going again for the same cut. The beard trim came in at £12, and for those with larger beards there’s a more detailed shape-up for the same price.
If you’re after something more straightforward, Hobson & Quinn also do haircuts. A wash and cut is £25, which includes a head reviver massage. That puts it at slightly cheaper than similarly pitched modern barbers 58 Barbershop on King’s Road.
As well as waxing for most parts of the body you can think of (starting with ears, nose and brows for £10), they also offer facials, and hand and feet treatments, as well as massages, either back, neck and shoulder or a 55-minute full body massage at a reasonable £49. All of these are offered in the downstairs treatment room. With slate grey and white brick walls it has a somewhat clinical look, like something in between a massage room and an operating theatre, but in a reassuring way.
The front of the shop is dedicated to a wide array of men’s grooming products including shaving paraphernalia, shower gels and facial products from brands such as Malin & Goetz, Norse, Anthony, La Bruket, Triumph & Disaster, all are reasonably priced. You’ll also find a selection of fragrances, aftershaves and perfume oils for both men and unisex use. Hobson & Quinn work directly with the manufacturers and are perhaps the only place in Reading with these all brands under one roof.
Despite the rise in hipster beards and male skin care, there is still a degree of stigma around men wanting to look after themselves, having healthy skin, releasing stress and taking care of their general well-being. Hobson & Quinn are looking to reduce this by making it easier for men in Reading to find these treatments easily and relatively affordably on our high street.
There aren’t really any other places in Reading offering the full range of services and men-focused treatments available at Hobson & Quinn. While we have plenty of standard barbers, up-market barbers and hair salons for cuts and beard trimming, for me, none also offer the additional, grooming treatments or products you can find here, which makes it a draw.
If you’re not convinced just yet, you can visit their salon for the essentials such as haircuts, beard trims done well. But if you’re looking for something different or to just look after yourself why not pop into Hobson & Quinn and treat yourself? I’ll certainly be going back.
8 Cross St, RG1 1SN | 01189 505144 | 8am – 7pm Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm Saturday, 11am – 4pm Sunday. View website.
James Moore is Explore Reading's resident pub reviewer. He samples the best pubs in Reading to bring you a new review every month. A beer expert and active within Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), James also runs '1001 Beers to Try Before You Die' - one of YouTube's most fun beer review channels.