May 23, 2008 | New Orleans

by Shawn Plep

Every man should experience a real barber shop at least once in his life. I'm not talking about a hair stylist, and I'm not referring to a salon – or even a "men's salon" (whatever that is). I am talking about a genuine barber shop. That's right: a barber shop. The sort of place that's becoming harder to find these days.

I'm talking about a place with the classic red-and-white barber pole. A place that offers shaves with straight-razors and hot towels. A place that has men's magazines in the waiting area (Popular Mechanics and Playboy instead of People and Oprah). A place that looks like a real barber shop should look: leather and dark wood everywhere, old-style barber chairs, vintage pinups on the walls, a bottle of Barbasol and a shave brush among the barber's tools.

Aiden Gill for Men is a true enclave for men, located on Magazine Street in New Orleans (there's also a newer Uptown location). From the moment you walk in, you know you've arrived at the right place. (Assuming you're a man who wants a great haircut or shave.) The front (retail) area of the shop displays an overwhelming array of barbershop memorabilia as well as a fine selection of products for purchase (such as soaps, razors, and even cufflinks and desk accessories). But a truly wonderful experience waits past the partitions as you walk into the barbershop proper.

Throughout my life, as a guy getting a haircut at most small-town barbershops my reception usually has involved a gruff guy with a Marines tattoo on his forearm saying, "Neeext." Not at Aiden Gill: a pretty (and very polite) hostess asked me to sit in any of the antique chairs, and then she offered me a drink. (Hey, as long as the person with the scissors isn't drinking…I'm totally O.K. with a beer before a haircut.) At this point they could do no wrong as far as I was concerned.

Within a few minutes it was showtime, and I got a shampoo and cut that matched the attention to detail and luxury that's apparent throughout Aiden Gill. They do a great job of not only providing the service they advertise (haircuts), but of going above and beyond what is to be expected. (Maybe that's why Aiden Gill has received recommendations in such publications as GQ and Esquire.)

So if you're a guy in need of a haircut, I have to recommend Aiden Gill for Men. It's a truly world-class barbershop and one of New Orleans' most unique and pleasant places to experience.