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The El Rey Men's Club and Spa - Review

Living Like a King

by Kelly Hartog

El Rey Club Lounge and Bar
El Rey Club clients relax in the lounge and bar

If you thought manis, pedis and facials were strictly for the girls, think again. While many spas cater to and encourage both women and men, the fact of the matter is, many men just feel downright uncomfortable rugging up in soft bathrobes and fluffy slippers and reading the latest issue of Marie Claire as they wait alongside women for a treatment.

Enter the El Rey Club in downtown Austin, Texas.  Opened in 2005, El Rey is the brainchild of Austin stalwart Clint Campbell, who understands that a “man’s man” wants to pampered as much as a woman, but doesn’t want to lose his macho edge. From the moment you step into this high-end 4,300 square foot barber and spa club focused exclusively on men and their personal and grooming needs, you know you’ve entered a unique haven.

From the heavy oak doors and muted wall colors in the twelve treatment rooms, to the dark wood tables and chairs in the upstairs full-service bar complete with eight flat screen television screens devoted to sports, this is where Austin’s top professionals come for a quick haircut, a leisurely massage, straight razor shaves (in the old-fashioned vein), manicures and pedicures and to simply hang out with the boys.

Here, the robes are comfortable but not fluffy, footwear is black rubber flip-flops and the waiting room’s magazine rack consists of everything from GQ and Sports Illustrated to Esquire and golfing magazines.

Says Campbell, “We serve the top one to two percent of men in a very small market, but we’re capturing a particularly high quality of client and providing them with a service that matches their lifestyle.” That lifestyle includes ensuring the clients receive valet parking, access to a business center, and they can even get their cars washed while in the club.

Client Mark Sweeney is definitely a convert to the El Rey lifestyle. “I hated sitting in a salon with other women and my wife was always nagging me to get a manicure and pedicure. When I heard about El Rey I said, ‘Sign me up.’” Since joining, Sweeney says El Rey is “everything I expected. It’s a boys toy store,” he says delightedly. Even the bar “is manly” he says. “Because they ice the glasses.”
Father and Son Haircut Clients wait in the Lobby for their treatments
Father and son haircut in the barber treatment room
Clients wait in the lobby for their treatments

Pampering at El Rey includes use of John Allan products, the Italian skin care line “ComfortZone” and “The Art of Shaving” products. All treatment rooms provide cable television, and a choice of music to be piped in. No whale songs here (unless that’s what you’re in the mood for). But if you’d like to listen to rock ‘n’ roll or jazz music while you’re getting a massage or a facial, just say the word.

The bathroom boasts a large walk in shower, a house phone and television in the toilet, and even ice in the urinals. “To help with the odors,” explains Campbell.

Yet while this is a men’s club, all treatments are performed by women. “Men feel uncomfortable being touched by other men,” Campbell states. “But the women are dressed asexually on purpose.” That “asexual” vibe is definitely present. The women providing the treatments are dressed in simple, loose fitting black pants and white shirts, their hair pulled back off their face and they wear little if any makeup.

And while there are sometimes concerns from spouses and girlfriends that a “men’s club” might be offering more than spa treatments, Campbell quickly quelled that concern by opening up the Club on weekends for men to bring their girlfriends and wives.

Campbell’s exclusive club is now the largest and fastest growing men’s-only barber and spa club in the country, and he has recently opened up the facilities to out of town visitors and provides day member packages for business and leisure travelers.

For more information on membership rates and for a tour of the facility, email Donaji Lira at

El Rey Club
311 West Fifth Street
Austin, TX 78701

(Updated: 05/10/11 BH)

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