Is Bern the haircut capital of the world?

March 23, 2011, 7 Comments


When the weather plays along, and I’m not running late, I walk to work. It’s uphill most of the way but only takes about ten minutes, assuming I don’t get sidetracked by one of the bakeries on the way. Over the last few years I’ve done that walk many times and what has never ceased to amaze me is just how many hairdressers there are. So the other day, I left home earlier than normal and counted (& photographed) every salon I passed. I thought there’d be at least ten, given how many I’d noticed in passing. But even I was stunned at the end result.

Twenty eight. TWENTY EIGHT hairdressers along a 1.3km route that barely even passes through the city centre proper. It’s almost unbelievable that so many can exist so close to each other. There are six in my street alone, each within snipping distance of the next. How do they all survive? Does hair in Bern grow so much more quickly than elsewhere? If I were to get my hair cut once a month, which is probably about average for a man, it would take me well over two years to visit all of these hairdressers. July 2013 – that’s when I could go back to Coiffure No 1 on my list, assuming no new ones had opened in the meantime.

To celebrate this hair-raising discovery, I created the above map. Each dot is a hairdresser, and if you click on it, a picture of the establishment in question will pop up. Just a little bit of fun to keep you busy for a coffee break. Although some are hidden away upstairs, notice how many have a street-front presence. That might seem odd – who goes window-shopping for haircuts or decides to have one because they saw a nice style in the window? – but with this much competition around, they clearly have to do everything to attract the punters. There are even two in the station, and that’s not because  Swiss trains are so late that you usually have time for a short back-and-sides. This isn’t Italy. No, it’s because these two are allowed to open evenings and Sundays, like any shop in the station. Some people can’t wait until Monday to be shorn.

If you’re thinking that my route to work is an exception, then think again. Bern is full of hairdressers. They are everywhere. In the city centre alone there are 134, and in the whole city, the total is an incredible 431! And that for a city with a population of 131,000. That works out at 3.3 hair salons for every 1000 inhabitants, far more than the other big Swiss cities, all of which are below the 3 per 1000 level; Geneva only manages 2.15 hairdressers per 1000 people. Next time I’m there, I must pay more attention to Genevese heads to see how they compare to Bernese standards. Then again, I haven’t noticed that Bernese hair is any better dressed than elsewhere. And that begs the question – who uses all these hairdressers?

7 Comments on "Is Bern the haircut capital of the world?"

  1. Flash Gordon Thursday March 24th, 2011 at 07:18 AM · Reply

    And whenever you drop by a hairdresser they tell you, that they are busy at the moment and you have to make an appointment. It is almost impossible visiting a hairdresser spontaneous.

    • Patrick Saturday April 2nd, 2011 at 02:37 AM · Reply

      I have been to hairdressers in Bern and noticed that if you want to visit a hairdresser without appointment, the “Gidor” chain (there are three in Bern) will work (they’re owned by Coop, so you can even use your “Supercard”). Apparently “no appointment needed” (resp. even not possible, I think) is their niche.

  2. girl in the east Monday March 28th, 2011 at 11:19 AM · Reply

    you don’t need a lot of hairdresser for a good cut – you just need one, the best one.
    and this you’re also finding in bern:
    haarschneiderei, mühlemattstrasse.
    since i ever moved away from bern to the border of the lake of constance years back i still go to this hairdresser all three months.

  3. Jerome Monday March 28th, 2011 at 11:30 AM · Reply

    Funny, that’s exactly what my girlfriend and I noticed as we went to live in Berne… I’m very happy with mine, but my gf hasn’t found a good one in Berne and goes everytime to Baden! Go figure…

  4. Julie Sunday June 26th, 2016 at 07:10 AM · Reply

    I live in Interlaken and we have the same situation – hairdressers on every corner and in between the corners as well. AND I still find it really hard to find a decent one! I’d almost fly to London for a decent haircut these days, so tired of bad cuts, I mean, how hard is it to cut a fringe! ooop,s I am going to rant now!! Any recommendations for a haircut in Bern??

  5. Anne Wednesday May 2nd, 2018 at 03:10 PM · Reply

    Omg it is for money laundering….bernese could not care less about their hair.

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