The Jermyn Army: The Stores You Need to Know About on London’s Most Genteel Street
If he doesn’t, he ought to. Known as the “gentleman’s street”, it has managed to remain quintessentially genteel since its creation in 1664. The epicentre of the classic bespoke English shirt – Turnball & Asser and Harvie & Hudson call it home – one can find other fine things in life: tailored suits, handmade shoes, Cuban cigars and restaurants. And in case you were in any doubt of the relevance of gentlemanly virtues to the present day, who better than Katie Price aka Jordan to mourn for yesteryear’s lost values: “All I want is a gentleman. I’m sick to bloody death of bastards.” To Jermyn Street, gents!
If you need a bespoke suit, Benson & Clegg is the place to go. Established in 1937, it became King George VI’s official tailors seven years later, and today has a Royal Warrant to HRH The Prince Of Wales. Located in Jermyn Street since 1976, Benson & Clegg is now managed by master tailor Kenneth Austin, who first started working there 41 years ago. As soon as you enter the shop, you are transported into a world of personal service, expert knowledge and gentle banter that simply doesn’t exist on the high street. “The relationship with the customer starts as soon as they walk through the front door,” says Kenneth, who never calls one by his first name unless invited to. Why isn’t all customer service like this?
bensonandclegg.com +44(0)20 7491 1454
The smell of leather as you enter Barker is instantly seductive, and it’s not long after the first inhale that you realise your existing footwear is in dire need of an immediate upgrade. Barker still makes its shoes in Northamptonshire, using some of the same traditional methods, such as slow natural drying and polishing, that it has done for the past 100 years. All that experience seems to have been passed on to the staff, who can identify your foot size by eye — no measuring required. However, they probably wouldn’t sanction the shoe-care advice of Beau Brummell (credited with introducing and popularising today’s suit-and-tie fashion, and frequenter of Jermyn Street in the early 1800s): use champagne to polish your boots. One can only admire the decadence.
barker-shoes.co.uk +44(0)20 7434 3533.
It’s always seemed a little unfair that it’s perfectly acceptable for women to go off for weekend of pampering, yet decried as metrosexual if men do it. What’s wrong with a spot of gentlemanly relaxation, dammit? Established in 1854, Taylor of Old Bond Street (in Jermyn Street since 1958) is a haven for male pampering. As well as selling a range of men’s luxury grooming products, there is a barber’s at the back of the shop, where you can have a haircut and “cut-throat” shave. Ask for Neil Stanton, who has been shaving faces for the past 35 years and who has a reassuringly steady hand; steady enough for Bruce Willis to come in for a shave a few years ago. There was a time when gentlemen would have had their own mugs with up to a set of seven blades (one for each day of the week) stored in a cabinet at their barber’s; nowadays most of us slash away our stubble with a disposable razor in a rush on our way out of the door. What that misses out is the ritual: the hot towel to open the pores, an application of shaving oil, the shave itself, an alum block rub to sooth any nicks and moisturiser to finish off — all accompanied by gentle conversation. It’s not just a shave; it’s an invigoration of the spirit.
tayloroldbondst.co.uk +44(0)20 7930 5321/5544.
“Happiness is a cigar called …,” ran the famous advert, forever linking smoking tobacco with a sense of wellbeing. But this was no flippant advertising slogan: cigar smokers are indeed a happy bunch, who appreciate taking time out for a smoke, excellent conversation and a good drink. So says Eddie Sahakian, the genial manager of Davidoff of London, the UK’s only franchise of the luxury Swiss-based tobacco goods brand that’s about to celebrate its 100th year. In the shop on the corner of Jermyn and St James’s streets (now in its 31st year [on 29th May; adjust for publication date]), you can buy from an extensive range of Cuban, Dominican, Nicaraguan and Honduran cigars (as well as pipes and other smoking paraphernalia), and if you’re struggling to decide which to choose, you can call on Eddie’s encyclopedic knowledge and expertise to guide you. “A cigar is an instrument of pleasure,” he says, and you can’t help but be enthused by his passion.
+44(0)20 7930 3079.
“It doesn’t matter what you do in the bedroom, as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses,” once said the colourful Rosa Lewis, chef to the aristocracy and The Cavendish Hotel’s owner from 1904 till 1944. Perhaps it was out of concern for equine passers-by that led to the Rosa Lewis room being placed at the top of the four-star hotel, a penthouse suite that has spectacular views over London. The décor is contemporary, the service charming and discreet— nothing is too much trouble. This is luxury with a conscience, too. The hotel has an active environmental management policy, and it’s award-winning restaurant, Petrichor (run by chef Nitin Padwel), has a target of 100 per cent sourcing of sustainable ingredients, and is committed to supporting British farms and producers. It’s the perfect place to settle down in your new suit and shoes and admire your freshly pampered face in the mirror, before slipping outside to smoke a well-earned Cohiba.
thecavendishlondon.com +44(0)20 7930 2111.