Testing the treatment, as regular readers know, aims to unearth those neighbourhood gems that you wish existed but haven’t quite found yet.
I’ve hunted down my favourite spas and salons in North London and countless in Central, ideal for popping into on your way home from work, or if you’re really hardcore, on your lunch break. As the home of London’s understated cool kids (with a heavy dose of yummy mummy -and everyone knows they’re pretty hard to please) it was definitely time to uncover the best of West.
If you love a good market, cinema or vintage store you’ve no doubt visited Notting Hill and much like it’s residents, have realised there’s much more to this laid back luxe neighbourhood than that dreaded blue door. Thus far the only place in Notting Hill I had visited was Strip, a chain that you’re probably familiar with. In spite of their widely respected hot wax and quirkily themed rooms, I still didn’t find it really represented the neighbourhood it had effectively plonked itself in. Put simply it lacked the Notting Hill charm, and I’ve since struggled to find anywhere that does. That was until I discovered Privet Body.
Situated on Kensington Park Road, the Privet sign is an easy spot, but the marble body busts in the window instantly make you think you’re in the wrong place. Far too arty for a salon surely.
This notion of turning upside down the idea of what a salon is or should be, is exactly what Privet aim to do and succeed in doing. Once you enter Privet, you are greeted by the friendly staff and the owner who is a rather dashing man (second twist).
Adjacent to the counter is the Manicured Garden, a series of garden tables and chairs with a wall stocked with Essie nail polishes and decorated with coloured illustrations of flowers, hung on a washing line with pegs. Alongside it a wooden path leads onto the tanning room (aptly named The Orangery) and three cabin style rooms. The first, the Log Cabin, fit with a sheepskin fur rug and stacks of logs, is the one you wish every ski chalet could be. Next up is The Toolshed, the men’s room -a room the owner is clearly passionate about, having spent many a day accompanying his wife to spas and feeling like a bit of a lemon. Having visited many salons and spas myself, it is clear that men do want the treatments and can often be found in waiting rooms sheepishly wondering whether it’s ok for them to be there. Aiming to put their minds at rest, a barber chair instantly marks it out as a mans abode; boldly placed within the den equipped with a laser machine, massage table and well disguised manicure kit. The other two treatment rooms are equally considered in their themes: the Writer’s Hut boasts a wall showered in open books, the other the Potting Shed, a shed-inspired spot, where I’d have my leg and bikini wax.
Living and working in a busy city like London means there isn’t much time for multiple appointments so I opted for the Bare Essentials package.
I was a bit cheeky and swapped my eyebrow and eyelash tint for a file and polish. The file and polish, unlike at most nail salons is actually much more than a file and polish. My beautician treated me to a file, buff, cuticle revamp and a gel manicure all under the guise of a simple file and polish. I opted for an Essie gel varnish in a deep red which was the perfect shade to get me in the mood for autumn; 15 days on they are still yet to chip. The process was quick and effortless and the Essie gel light with finger grooves, made the experience an easily navigable one.
As a means of really getting the most of the pure indulgence that getting a manicure is, I opted to get the waxing out of the way first. We started with an upper leg wax, in which a light organic oil was spritzed on to make the hair better grip to the strips, it was quick and pretty painless. In anticipation of the pending bikini wax I continued to convince myself that it was nothing in comparison to what was coming, but in truth the bikini wax was less painful. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to bikini waxes and have them so often, or maybe it was down to the gooey Aloe Vera hot wax, that was more uncomfortable in application (due to the heat) than in removal. The friendly conversation with my beautician, who was full of tips about waxing, after care and how to tackle other problem areas, definitely helped the time fly by and make the whole experience truly enjoyable.
For a small neighbourhood salon I was treated as well as I have been in Mayfair‘s best, but the greatest thing about Privet, is that it was different and really feels like a unique spot.
If you live in Notting Hill or anywhere close, or simply find yourself stumbling across it on a visit to Portobello market, Privet body is a place you just have to visit, because soon, I guarantee an appointment is going to be pretty hard to come by.
Privet Body, 214 Kensington Park Road, W11 1NR
T: 0207 221 5674; E: firstname.lastname@example.org