There’s something about secret spaces and by appointment only spots that can excite even the most jaded of consumers. In the age of ‘been there, seen that’, the idea of being privy to something unique, or unheard of by the masses, is always enticing to the person looking for a better, more engaging experience.
In Singapore, such hidden spaces usually extend to speakeasy-style bars like The Horse’s Mouth and the Marriott’s The Other Room, that have hidden entrances or very little online presence. Other establishments overseas have even taken the idea of a hidden spot to the next level. Restaurant and lounge, Beauty & Essex’s original outlet in the Lower East Side of New York, actually sits behind a working pawn shop.
When I visited it back in 2012, I was so interested in the actual items in the shop like vintage jewellery, custom guitars and an assortment of knick-knacks, it made me forget the main event — a huge, opulent restaurant that inexplicably lay inside. Even on television, the allure of the hidden bar is explored on teen drama ‘Riverdale’ in the form of the ill-advised speakeasy La Bonne Nuit, located in the basement of a diner. Again how they fit all that under Pop’s humble Choc’lit Shoppe remains a mystery. But a hidden hair salon? This was a first in Singapore, and even in the wider world. Would the cool concept overshadow the actual services being offered?
Chez Vous is one of the most trusted hair salons in Singapore, and in fact has earned a reputation as the place to go to fix bad dye jobs suffered at the hands of incompetent stylists. It is especially known for creating flattering colours on clients and for its life-changing texture treatments, so it’s safe to say that my expectations were high when I first learned of HideAway, a secret salon tucked on the 14th floor of an office tower in Ngee Ann City.
Chez Vous HideAway
A flower wall in the new Chez Vous HideAway's relaxation room where clients can get a oxygen treatment and red light scalp therapy.
The salon is a secret inasmuch as there is no huge sign board and foot traffic, although the neon-lit door is marked with the name ‘Chez Vous HideAway’, so you know you’ve come to the right place. As it doesn’t have a traditional shopfront, all customers must make an appointment, and as the salon only serves five customers, per stylist per day, slots are somewhat exclusive.
Chez Vous HideAway
The reception area at Chez Vous HideAway.
Inside you’ll find an impressive concept space, designed by the Chez Vous team themselves. The reception area resembles a Hogwarts-style library replete with a shelf of fake books, a hidden door and leather sofa, but the rest of the space vacillates between different design themes. The main salon area has an almost Japanese, zen sensibility. Seats line the walls, with each styling station framed by a chic, round mirror. Awash in a grey and white palette, pink Himalayan rock salts at each corner ensure the air is cleansed, while an empty, plant-filled bathtub fills the middle of the room as a design element in the vein of a Gentle Monster store. The designers have also ensured that the indoor lighting is just perfect, as the entire 1,800 square foot salon has no windows. This creates the impression of a light-filled space that’s a marked contrast from the cramped, crowded and noisy salons I’m more accustomed to.
Chez Vous HideAway
An austere salon space, all designed by the hairstylists at Chez Vous.
Each visitor is also treated to a suite of complementary services. At the relaxation lounge, guests are invited to come early to relax on leather massage chairs, partake in the oxygen bar and have a red light scalp therapy. Once you’re seated you’ll be treated to a quick welcome massage done using your choice of aromatherapy oils that are also added to your shampoo for a more holistic experience. Speaking of which, the shampoo room here is not some shameful space that’s you’re hurried in, but another experiential zone in itself. With a video of neon jellyfish on loop on the wall, and comfy chairs to lay in, you won’t mind hanging out in the cave-like atmosphere while treatments and masks are being done.
Ushered into the private, Pink Quartz room for my session, I enjoyed the personal space usually reserved for VIP customers and the perks available to all: Premium drinks — I had a cinnamon latte — a juice pack for my phone and the option to have a manicure done concurrently.
Chez Vous HideAway
A private Pink Quartz room.
My stylist, associate director Eddy Lau, created a wearable colour for me with medium brown tones applied at the crown to disguise my roots, blended in with natural ash, semi-permanent dye at the ends to bring life back to my faded, brassy tresses. The resulting colour was subtle and casual, as he seemed to pick up on my low-key vibe. I especially appreciated the care taken for my haircut, with Lau taking the time to rough dry my hair to better understand its natural shape and kinks before creating a wash-and-wear cut —which he demonstrated would be easy to style at home.
Even in my private room I still couldn’t escape the occasional whirr of hairdryers, but other than that it was a relaxing space to escape in. The salon is also littered with cute signs and little niches that are perfect for photo opportunities, but for me the transparent pricing system and always reliable service is what I’ll be coming back for. While the design zones and exclusivity are certainly things that set HideAway apart from other salons, it succeeds as it gets the basics of good, personalised cut, colour and treatments done right.
Visit Chez Vous HideAway at #14-04 Ngee Ann City Tower B, by appointment only.
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