Laying claim to the title of best bar in old Damascus is no mean feat, the area is literally filled to the brim with hidden gems, booze kiosks, trendy bars and bog standard pubs.
To read about our tour to Syria click here
Yet among all these joys is quite literally a speakeasy called The Barber Shop. A strange name for a bar? Yes, but there is context to The Barber Shop Damascus!
Bar hopping in Old Damascus
If you follow the western line on Syria you’d assume that the town would be some kind of oppressive hell hole. The facts on the ground are things count’nt be further from the truth.
Good bars, kiosks, and restaurants litter the area and while you can just go exploring and find joy, if you are with people in the know then that is when you find the gems.
After eating at allegedly the best restaurant in Damascus we decided that we needed some liquid refreshment. Following our guides we ended up outside “The Barber Shop”.
The exterior of the Barber Shop Damascus
I shall try and avoid confusion here, there are many barber shops in Damascus and it is a great place for a hair cut and a shave. This particular Barber Shop is a bit different though.
Looking inside you see the mirror and the chair and, well no life, leading me to argue with our Syrian guide about whether it actually existed, or not. We then tried to open the door – nothing.
But a minute later a literal sliding door from behind the barber element was opened the front door was unlocked and we were thrown into a very cool speakeasy.
The Barber Shop Damascus speakeasy
The decor of the Barber Shop Damascus is partly classic bar and partly New York themed, whatever that means. The staff were dressed in 1920’s type uniforms and overall it appeared to be a pleasant little drinking hole.
Drinks wise the selection was broad and cheap, there’s local Syrian liquor a wine, which will get their own article, as well as local beer and arak, both of which shall also get their own pieces too.
I personally thought i’d test their metal with a Long Island Iced Tea, if nothing else to compare with my Beirut experience. Frankly it was perfectly done and at less than 5 bucks a cocktail a few for a beer and under 20 for a bottle of red was a legitimately cheap night out.
Why oh why and what oh what made this little Syrian bar so damned cool then? Well it all boils down to a toilet.
The best toilet in Syria and perhaps the best I have ever seen!
At 158 countries and counting I have been to a lot of bars and ergo a lot of damned toilets. I have seen a few lovely ones, with the dual sit down crapers next to each other in Transnistria truly taking some beating.
The toilet at the Barber Shop Damascus was introduced to me when my friend said •you have to go to the toilet. I won’t say anything else just go”, When a gay man invites you to the toilet of course you say yes.
On the wall and above the seated toilet area is a big red button, the kind that looks like it would set off world war 3 if you touched it. This also means it is impossible not to touch it. Once touched the button sets off not just disco lights, but truly camp disco music. So simple, so kitsch, yet oh so very very brilliant!
I do declare the Barber Shop Damascus to be in my top ten bars of all time, an article that shall indeed follow in due course.