Saved by the Gel at Lambeth College

Laura Burgoine_072

As Lambeth College opens up its new commercial facilities The Street SW4 to the public, the Weekender went back to school for a day of pampering.

In a reverse Ferris Bueller’s Day Off I blew off work for the day and went back to school, though this time round was infinitely better. Instead of tests and textbooks, I got my nails done, had a facial, dined on Coq Au Vin and ended with getting my hair washed and blow-dried. And as of November; you can too!

The Street SW4, which includes the Salon, the Spa, and the Restaurant, is a way for students who are studying hospitality and catering, hair and beauty, and body and spa therapy to put their skills to practical use; the salons open to the public on November 4 while the restaurant will start serving from November 12.

The college is an impressive, vast, shiny new set-up and I couldn’t help but feel envious of the students there; it’s a far cry from my own university, which was a concrete box on a highway in Australia with no windows or clocks where more than once a lizard got in. But here in Clapham there’s a brand new Jacuzzi, steam rooms and sauna (which people using the salon facilities will be able to use). I’m lead into the luxurious beauty cubicles for a facial.  Highly professional, relaxing, and using high quality products, the facials will be on offer to the public ranging from just £6 to £10. Massages are equally cheap starting at £5 with the priciest weighing in at £15. Forget scouring Groupon for deals; these prices are year-round, not to mention you’re investing in a local skill-set. As both a learning environment and a commercial practice, it’s very impressive; the students are talented and keen and the teachers are approachable, hands-on and incredibly invested.

I move onto a manicure next (£5); the beauty technician student has only been studying for five weeks but she does a brilliant job while I watch the hairdressing students in the background styling the hair of life-sized doll heads.

From here I’m taken into the Restaurant, a modern, chic space with views of Clapham Common and a state of the art kitchen; the sophisticated stove they use for training is one of only two of its kind in London; the other is at Oblix restaurant in the Shard! Again, the hospitality students have only been training for five weeks and the teacher informs me that a lot of them arrived at the course unable to boil an egg. If that’s true, it’s been a quick learning curve because the food is delicious and as someone who still hasn’t mastered a poached egg, I’m considering enrolling. We start with a tasty French onion soup, followed by mouth-watering Coq Au Vin, finished with shortbread and vanilla infused fruit salad. This is just a sample menu though; due to open November 12 and serving every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the restaurant’s new menus feature a wide range of dishes including confit chicken, roast pork belly, wild mushroom risotto, whole grilled sea bream, vanilla panna cotta and poached pears in chocolate sauce, amongst many others.

After lunch we’re back to the hair salon, this time for a wash and blow-dry. Compared to High St prices, the salon is ridiculously cut-price, and fear not, the hairdressers have been training at least one year so you’re not going to wind up with an Edward Scissorhands ‘do. Cuts start off at £3 for men and £5 for women. Colours start off at £15, while a perm can start from just £6. They even do wedding packages.

After a stroll along the Street past the pop-up shops and a tour of the industry-standard theatre, it was time for this beauty school drop-in to head back into the real world.

Clapham College’s The Street is at 45 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 9BL. Phone: 020 7501 5201. http://www.lambethcollege.ac.uk/

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