I had a completely different post planned for today. I had laid out the photos and was looking forward to writing all about my visit to the Chamberí Station Museum, and then I went to get my haircut for my birthday and everything changed.
Katy Rose Hair & Makeup Artist Madrid came highly recommended from many people in both the English-speaking and expat communities here in Madrid, which is why I’m a bit floored by my experience there yesterday.
It’s been five month since I’ve had my hair cut professionally. I’ve been trimming it myself since we arrived so in early-January I decided that I would treat myself on my 30th birthday to a haircut. I know for most this isn’t an extravagant purchase, but I haven’t been working since we arrived in Madrid and given my insatiable wanderlust, I think long and hard about every penny not spent on travel.
So, on January 14th, more than a full month in advance, I made the appointment for a wash, cut and blow dry. At €25 it wouldn’t break the bank, and I figured I deserved (plus, after months of random trims, my hair was in need of a tune up). I looked forward to it; I love having my hair washed and head rubbed so I knew this would be a great way to pamper myself on my birthday. I was also looking forward to meeting the English-speaking stylist: maybe we’d share stories about being expats and she’s share tips about living in Madrid and learning Spanish. I was looking forward to this appointment for many reasons, and I was disappointed in so many different ways.
Early yesterday afternoon, I walked through the Chamberi and Malasaña neighbourhoods excited for the appointment. I arrived ten minutes early and immediately loved the place. It was a cute little salon with black and white tiles and a few colourful accents here and there, plus there was a dog, which won me over immediately. As with most salons the receptionists took my coat, offered me a beverage and then left me to wait.
I waited 15-20 minutes before I was taken to get my hair washed and brought to a chair. No big deal, I had nowhere to be and didn’t mind waiting (plus it was an opportunity to pet the dog). When Katy finally came over she didn’t introduce herself, she simply asked a few questions about what I was looking for and then got to work. I tried to make small talk about the dog, but that didn’t last long; she didn’t really seem to be into it.
After no more than five minutes and a few snips I was left without warning while she went to finish the cut of another client. For nearly ten minutes I sat with my wet hair pinned up before she came back, offered a quick apology and got back to work.
She finished the cut and while my hair was still wet asked me how it felt. I’ll be honest, I was taken a back: Usually this is the question you get asked when your hair is done and dry, and you’re running your fingers through it. I mumbled something about it feeling lighter and then she offered to blow dry my hair and explained the options and their prices. Again, I was confused: I thought this was included in what I booked, but I’ve been wrong before so maybe this was one of those times. I picked getting a rough blow dry for an additional €2. For an additional €9 I could have had a full blow dry, but at this point I thought I was paying €25 for a wash and cut, so I wasn’t too keen on spend an additional €9 just for dry hair, especially since it was raining.
She roughly dried my hair and then took off the cape. I was asked what I thought and as soon as I answered she walked away and was waiting for me at the counter. Not a single word: not an offer to look at the back of my hair; not an “I’ll meet you over at the counter when you’re ready”; not an offer or upsell for products; nothing. I picked up my purse and went to pay. She told the receptionist what I owed, told me that they only take cash and then left to start on another client.
In the end it was only €18, but it wasn’t what I had booked and given the way I was treated I still feel like I paid too much. I didn’t leave the salon feeling pretty. In fact, I actually felt prettier when I arrived with my greasy hair in a really messy topknot. I was planning on running a few errands and maybe doing a bit of shopping, but after the haircut I couldn’t get home fast enough.
I chose to visit Katy Rose because she came highly recommended and her salon is often ranked as one of the best English speaking salons in Madrid, but my experience was more than disappointing. I hope Katy was just having a bad day and this isn’t the way she treats regular clientele, but I won’t be visiting her again to find out nor will I be recommending her services.
There are an infinite number of salons here in Madrid (there are at least two per block in our barrio) so I can guarantee I can find someone else to give me the same basic trim but with a much better attitude.
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