The Best Hair Salons and Barber Shops in London

In London, and across the world in all honesty, going to a hair salon or barbershop to get a cut has always been a somewhat dreaded experience. If you have bad luck and get a bad cut, you basically have two options: shave it all off or wait weeks, if not months, for your hair to grow back out and look normal. Since the former is an incredibly bold statement most people aren’t willing to make and the latter is awkward as can be, the best solution is to get a good haircut in the first place.

Finding the perfect hair stylist can be like looking for love. It takes time and effort to search for “the one.” You might get a bad cut or two on the way, and that might make you want to give up, but you persist on your search. Finally, you find him or her, and it’s a match made in heaven.

At any of the salons and barbershops on this list, you’re in great hands. The scissors, clippers, and razors are handled with precision and care, guided by the stylist’s expert eye. In their care, you’ll have no problems getting the perfect new style to stun family, friends, and the folks at work.

Vanity House

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
124 Dundas St. (map)

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We might be biased on this one since Vanity House is the place that Santa himself, Matt Santagapita, gets his hair cut and styled. That’s right, a select few people have been afforded the opportunity to work on Santa’s majestic mane, and owner/stylist Aran Beattie has been Matt’s go-to stylist for over half a decade, since the salon opened their doors.

Vanity house, found on Dundas in the heart of downtown, offers one of the most luxurious hairstyling experiences out there. Upon your arrival, you will be offered either French pressed coffee or freshly brewed tea – on the house, of course. Every appointment includes a consultation with a stylist and a fresh wash, regardless of the service you’ve chosen to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for.

The boho-chic aesthetic of exposed brick, full length mirrors with ornate frames, and chandeliers dotting the ceiling give the salon a high class feel while still being warm and comforting. The time and effort going into the look and feel of the salon is an indicator of how much effort will go into your new hairstyle.

The handful of stylists at Vanity House are experts at their craft, offering a wide range of innovative and exciting styles for everyday life or special events. Whether you’re looking for a simple trim, an extravagant updo, or a crazy new colour, these guys will make your vision a reality and make it look fantastic.

The service and skill of the stylists at Vanity House is unparalleled, such that customers are driving in from as far as the GTA for appointments with Aran and his team.

For your next haircut, why not go ahead and treat yourself to the Vanity House experience?

Whistling Dick’s

Neighbourhood: Old East Village
760 Dundas St. (map)

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For a haircut that feels like a blast to the past, Whistling Dick’s is the place to go. Whistling Dick’s emulates the style and feel of a 1930’s barbershop, from the tunes on the stereo to the straight razors they use to shave their customers.

Whistling Dick’s harkens back to the good old days, where the barbershop was an institution, a safe haven. When you cross the threshold into their Old East Village shop, the feel of the place beckons you to leave your everyday stress at the door and relax as you’re pampered with high quality service and products.

The vibe in Whistling Dick’s is rustic and as masculine as can be. Stained wood, brick, and leather comprise most of the surfaces in the place, with vintage tools and other flair adorning the walls, all because the owners, John Parlow and Gregory Kahnert, believe a haircut should be more than just an errand, it should be an experience.

No fancy ombres, highlights, or hair dyes of any kind will be found in this establishment. All these guys do is cut, trim, and shave. They don’t offer a whole lot of variety, but they are masters of their trade. Scott Wilkins and Jose Interiano are both educated and experienced barbers with seemingly more years of experience than there are hairs on a head.

Being primarily a men’s barber, Whistling Dick’s focuses on shorter hairstyles. So fair warning to those with luscious, flowing locks: you might not get the hairdo they desire unless you’re looking for something drastically shorter.

The feel and experience of Whistling Dick’s is more than enough reason to go, but the fact that you can get a great new hair style in the process just makes the prospect worth its weight in gold.

Salon Entrenous

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
579 Richmond St. (map)

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Found in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Richmond Row, Salon Entrenous has been cutting London’s hair for over a quarter century. The award winning team is committed to making sure you leave happy and looking fantastic with your new style.

The vibe is clean and stylishly minimal, offering a welcoming open space that is devoid of clutter and mess, even at their workstations with all the tools of the trade. The staff always aim to ensure their customers are as relaxed as they can be and enjoying their time in the salon.

Salon Entrenous is committed to making sure you get the style you want, including a thorough consultation with all services, alongside a scalp massage, and a blow dry. And they have a multitude of services from classic cuts to colouring to texture treatments for relaxing and smoothing your hair or adding permanent waves.

In the salon, they also offer an extensive variety of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products for you to grab on your way out to keep your new do looking pristine days, even weeks, after your appointment. All of their products are professional grade with endorsement from the Salon Entrenous stylists, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. Ask your stylist which product will work best with your hair type, they’re highly informed and can give excellent recommendations for your needs.

The award winning stylists at Salon Entrenous make it a prime choice for your next haircut.

Love Alchemy Lifestyle Boutique & Organic Hair Studio

Neighbourhood: Old East Village
764 Dundas St. (map)

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Love Alchemy’s organic and holistic approach to hairstyling and beauty is a welcome addition to London’s Old East Village. Opening their doors in February of 2017, Love Alchemy offers haircuts, styling, colouring, and holistic therapies like reiki, blue matrix, and massage therapy.

Long or short, curly or straight, natural or dyed, Love Alchemy is a great spot for your trim, cut, or style if you’re strongly eco-conscious. Every single product in their salon is socially sustainable and ethically sourced, making it the perfect spot to stay stylish while reducing your carbon footprint.

Love Alchemy’s number one goal is to keep the Earth as beautiful as they make you. With the help of their partners at Green Circle Salons, they recycle every bi-product they possibly can, such as empty colour tubes, foils, and leftover hair colour. This prevents the plastics and other non-biodegradables from entering landfills. Even your clipped hair gets put to good use, with their partner Matter of Trust, they use clippings to make hair booms for cleaning up oil spills.

Their dyeing services are extensive, from full colour to balayage to root touch ups, all without harmful chemicals, toxins, or carcinogens. Whatever you need, these ladies will be able to provide.

And if you’re looking for some ethical fashion to match your new hairdo, Love Alchemy has a selection of clothing, accessories, and home décor that proudly features local, national, and international brands that are all sustainable and ethical.

For eco-friendly, guilt-free hair, Love Alchemy is definitely the place to check out.


Nova Vita Hair Studio and Esthetics

Neighbourhood: Downtown
740 Richmond St. (map)

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“Nova vita” translates to “new life” and the stylists at Nova Vita Hair Studio and Esthetics will do just that. You will feel like a new person after the pampering and styling that you receive at Nova Vita.

Whether you’re looking for a basic trim, a designer cut, or even a perm, the stylists at Nova Vita will be able to give you a hand. Hair of all lengths and textures are welcome and will get the attention they need. Their skilled hair stylists will have you looking ready for a photoshoot, or at least to take on the day with newfound confidence from your new hairdo. Customers are always ecstatic when they leave Nova Vita, excited to flaunt their new style.

This Richmond Row salon offers more than just hair styling though. They offer a variety of other services, including massages, airbrush tanning, waxing, and makeup application. Despite having so many options under one roof, their attention to detail is incredible, and the end results of every service is always top tier.

Regardless of what you’re there for, at Nova Vita, the best is the only option, and anything else is unacceptable. From the products to their expert stylists, there is no second rate. Premium service, premium products.

The Best Places to Watch Fireworks in London

Canada Day is coming up this weekend, and it is tradition across the country to celebrate with fireworks. These dazzling displays bring awe and wonder to the faces of children and adults alike in commemoration of another year of Canada’s existence as a country.

Harris Park

Neighbourhood: Downtown
530 Ridout St. N (map)

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Head on down to Harris Park for an event-filled Canada Day. A 12-hour extravaganza of Canadian and multicultural celebrations beginning at 11AM, fun for the entire family.

There is a new act performing basically every half hour throughout the day, ranging from First Nations drumming and singing to interactive Bollywood dancing to Hells Bells, an AC/DC cover band. There is bound to be something for everyone throughout the day.

Don’t worry about the kids either, they’ll be plenty entertained. The Kids Zone will have bouncy houses, face painting, airbrush tattoos, and other activities to keep the kids busy until the sun goes down and the sky is dark enough for fireworks.

There will be an array of food vendors to grab snacks and meals while you hang out and enjoy the day. For the adults, a beer garden opens at 8PM serving a variety of cold and boozy beverages.

Their fireworks show begins at 10PM and promises to be a colourful display to dazzle and astonish all. If you’re looking for a full day of fun in the heart of downtown London, head on over to Harris Park.

White Oaks Park/South London Community Centre

Neighbourhood: White Oaks
1119 Jalna Blvd. (map)

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This Canada Day celebration is a whole day event, beginning at 2PM and running into the night. With a variety activities for children and the family, this south end celebration is bound to be exciting.

Live musical acts play throughout the day, with acts such as Big Bang, Men Without Cats, and the Night Crew. The kids will be kept busy with inflatable rides, a spray pad, and a movie in the gym of the community centre in the early evening, all for free! They also have a variety of food vendors selling their wares and a cake cutting ceremony, so you won’t go hungry.

Their firework display begins at 10PM and is intended to be 20 minutes in length. For a fantastic, budget friendly, family-oriented day, the South London Canada Day celebration is a great spot to check out.

Argyle Arena

Neighbourhood: Argyle Park
1948 Wavell St. (map)

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The Optimist Club of East London is hosting this celebration, and it promises to be epic. This is a two-part event: an indoor vendor fair and an outdoor activity area and stage.

The event’s opening ceremony begins at 1PM, followed quickly by a cake cutting. Music starts after the cake has been sliced and continues on into the evening. The musical acts include rock and country artists such as Kill Effect and Truelove Ways.

This celebration has some of the most interesting things for the kids to get up to, including face painting, a reptile show, and mad science exhibits, all for free! There are also carnival games with prizes and a raffle, so don’t miss out on your chance to win.

The vendor fair features local businesses such as Baby-Bee Design, Karen’s Kreations, and Metal Man Mike. So peruse at your leisure and maybe even grab something if it catches your eye. We always admire supporting small businesses.

Fireworks begin at dusk, so keep an eye on the sun as it sets so you can get a prime spot to watch.

Outside of London

While we typically prefer to keep our recommendations in London, there are also some excellent firework displays outside of the city limits in surrounding townships and municipalities. Even though this would require some more driving, they’re definitely worth checking out.

Grand Bend

Neighbourhood: Grand Bend
Lambton Shores (map)


Grand Bend is a beach town to the northwest of London on the shores of Lake Huron. Their event consists of an evening of music, featuring Jessica Allossery, Vintage Flight, and Highway 21. This, of course, is all an opening act for the pyrotechnics.

The fireworks begin at 10PM after the singing of the national anthem. The show that Grand Bend puts on is the largest in southwestern Ontario and is visible from mostly any point in the town, but the prime seating is definitely on the beach. Best of all, the whole event is completely free, except for public parking!

Port Stanley

Neighbourhood: Port Stanley
William St. (map)

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Port Stanley is a lakeside town to the south of London, offering Canfest, an event that runs the entire long weekend, from Saturday June 30th to Monday July 2nd.

Basically the whole town participates, but the centre of the action is on the main beach, where you’ll find live music, a kids zone, and other events throughout the weekend, such as a BBQ on Saturday evening, a parade on Sunday morning, and of course, fireworks on Sunday night.

Their fireworks being at 9:45PM, just after the sun has set and people can stop worrying about sunburns. The fireworks are sure to impress as the colours reflect off the water, making it seem like twice as many explosions of colour than there actually are. It’s a truly wonderful experience and heading out there is highly recommended.

The Best Places to Watch the World Cup in London

The FIFA World Cup has returned and as always, it has infected the world with patriotism. Londoners are reconnecting with their roots, since rooting for Canada’s soccer team just isn’t an option this time around.

While watching in the comfort of your own home can be great, there’s nothing like the comradery of screaming with other fans at giant television screens, and for that you’ll probably have to head out to a public space.

There are plenty of places to watch the tournament. Sports bars across the city will be putting on the game live, replaying it in the evening, and showing highlights the day after. But for the best experience to cheer your heart out, the places on this list are the ones to check out.


Neighbourhood: Downtown
122 Carling Street (map)

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Marienbad Restaurant and Chaucer’s Pub, a two-named establishment, has strong European roots, so it’s needless to say soccer runs through their veins.

The large television at Chaucer’s will be showing every game of the tournament. Come together with friends and family at this downtown location to watch your team and root them on.

While you’re there, it will be hard to resist grabbing a pint of one of their 75 unique varieties of beer, 11 of which are on tap. These beers range in nationality, not unlike the teams participating in the World Cup, coming from all six inhabited continents, so you’ve got plenty to pick from that could even rep your team.

Since most of the games start between morning and midafternoon, you’ll be getting acquainted with their lunch menu. A range of European inspired salads, sandwiches, and platters, along with daily specials – displayed on their sandwich board out front of the restaurant and on their Twitter.

For a taste of Europe to match the team you’re cheering for, Merienbad/Chaucer’s is the place to be.

Neighbourhood: Downtown London
595 Richmond St. (map)

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Joe Kool’s is a Richmond Row staple, serving hot food and cold drinks over the sounds of sports games for over 30 years.

Joe Kool’s offers sports bar classics like burgers, pizzas, and nachos as well as a variety of domestic and imported beers, including a selection of beers from their Richmond Row neighbour, Toboggan Brewery.

With over a dozen screens throughout the restaurant, you’ll easily be able to see the game from any table in the place. Sports fans have used Joe Kool’s as a gathering place for decades, and nothing can change that. The atmosphere is vibrant with cheers of elation and groans of disappointment whenever a team scores.

Joe Kool’s itself does not have a public stance on who wins the World Cup, so everyone should feel welcome. Just keep it civil if you get seated next to a family cheering for the rival team.


Neighbourhood: Downtown London
268 Dundas St. (map)

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The Scot’s Corner is a classic British pub with beer always flowing and brimming with UK pride. It almost goes without saying that the Scot’s Corner will be showing the World Cup, but that is the point of this list after all, so it must be said.

The Scot’s Corner will be putting every World Cup game on display for its patrons. Whether it’s a 9AM start or 2PM, you’ll be able to grab a seat and a pint, and watch the game. Thanks to the AGCO’s temporary change, bars and restaurants are now allowed to serve alcohol as early as 9AM, though that rule is only for the duration of World Cup tournament play.

They’re even offering a World Cup special – 20oz pints of Scot’s Corner Local Lager for $5. Between this deal and the game, it’s understandable to get a little rowdy – but don’t go full hooligan, or you won’t be invited back for the next game.

Being a British pub, a good portion of the patrons will be rooting for England, but all are welcome to eat, drink, and cheer for their team.

Neighbourhood: Fairmont
706 Haminton Rd. (map)

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King of the Pigs, or Rei dos Leitõs, is a barbeque joint with a few locations across London. Their style of barbequing and love for soccer stems from Portugal, so you know both flow through their veins.

Their Hamilton Road restaurant, their flagship location, has been open for over 25 years. Their Portuguese barbeque is unrivaled, charcoal infused chicken, Peri Peri sauce, and pork ribs are mouth-watering and have gained them much renown throughout the city, beyond just the Portuguese population.

No matter who you’re cheering for, grabbing a table at King of the Pigs is guaranteed to be an excellent experience, just make sure to tip well if you’re rooting against Portugal.

Neighbourhood: The Coves
1 Cove Rd. (map)

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The German Canadian Club of London is welcoming Londoners to watch the World Cup on their big screen. While there may be a slight preference toward the German team, soccer fans of all nationalities and club affiliations are welcomed.

Their kitchen and bar will be open an hour before each game and throughout the match, so classic German dishes and beer will never be in short supply. Sausages, schnitzels, and lagers make for excellent sustenance to keep your cheers going strong.

Check on their social media or their website’s event page to see which games they’re showing. You’re guaranteed to get every Germany match, but showing other matches depend on public demand.

And just for good measure, after every Germany match, there will be giveaways and prizes. No public word on what they are just yet, so you’ll have to head over and check it out if you’re interested in potentially winning a prize.

Neighbourhood: Downtown, Masonville & White Oaks
660 Richmond St, 88 Fanshawe Park Rd. & 1070 Wellington Rd. (map)

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We don’t usually shout out chains on Santa Knows Best, but Jack Astor’s has one of the best sports bar set ups we’ve seen out there. Their massive screen makes the game visible across the whole space, it’s impossible to miss, even from outside. Crowds gather there to share in one communal watching experience.

Everyone has probably been to a Jack Astor’s at some point, so there aren’t really many surprises on the menu. Classics like burgers, chicken fingers, and steaks, alongside a plentiful array of beers, wines, and spirits.

Other chain sports bars, like Crabby Joe’s and Boston Pizza, which have numerous locations across the city, will give you a similar vibe to Jack Astor’s, so in a pinch they’re also a great choice for decent food, good service, and watching the World Cup.

Neighbourhood: Fairmont
134 Falcon St. (map)

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The Portuguese Club of London are cheering on Ronaldo and the team and welcoming everyone from far and wide to join them. Their club’s adjoining sports bar is always open to the public, no club membership needed, you just have to show up and enjoy a drink and the game.

The sports bar’s kitchen will be ready and available for your snacking and/or meal needs, serving up traditional Portuguese cuisine alongside their cold beverages, or hot coffee for the early morning games.

It’s safe to say that all of the other cultural community centres in London will also be playing their team’s games, if not more. Check out places such as the Irish Canadian Club or the Curinga Italian Canadian Sport Club. National pride runs strong, especially when it comes to soccer, or “football” as they call it.

The Best Gyms
in London

Whether you’re aiming to flaunt your beach body this summer or looking to improve your fitness to lengthen your life expectancy, a gym membership is likely one of the first steps to reaching your fitness goals. But with so many different fitness goals – slim down, bulk up, improve cardio, etc. – picking a gym can be difficult. Some gyms are catchalls and can service any need to some extent, while others are highly specialized in a certain area. Taking this into consideration when you’re deciding on your new gym membership will make you happier with your experience and more motivated to actually go and work out. Luckily, there are a bunch of locally owned and operated gyms and fitness centres, each with their own specialties and focuses to match the type of workout you’re looking for. Any of the options on this list are fantastic for someone, but maybe not for everyone, so make sure to look through all of them and find the one that suits you best.

Neighbourhood: Glen Cairn 962 Leathorne St. (map)

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FitClub Bootcamps was easily the most recommended gym when we asked for your favourites on social media. The public’s support for FitClub was so immense, we definitely had to check them out. FitClub runs on the boot camp model, hence the name. They host hour-long sessions of circuit training a few times per day, ranging from the crack of dawn 5:30 am sessions to after-work workouts at 6pm. Every day is different though, so make sure you’re signed up and attending at the right times. They even have an app for both Android and iPhone to help you schedule your workout sessions which is incredibly handy. There are also opportunities for personal training, either one on one or small groups. Going for smaller groups allows your program to be more tailored to your goals and will better suit your pace without pushing you too hard or being too easy and wasting your time. For the truly dedicated, FitClub also offers access to their “Inner Circle,” which includes features such as nutrition and supplement guidance and unlimited personal coaching online. While this may not be for everybody, they think of it as a way to give yourself an extra sense of motivation to stay healthy and active. With the tightknit and incredibly supportive community growing, both in the gym and on social media, FitClub Bootcamps has quickly become a fantastic spot to get your sweat on.

Neighbourhood: Old East Village 1025 Elias St,  (map)

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Powerhouse Training Systems lives up to its name in every way. This Old East Village gym is easily the most physically demanding gym on this list, pushing an emphasis on being greater than average. Their approach utilizes a combination of open gym and structured training sessions, either strength training or dynamic work, in small groups. This style of training gets the attention and coaching of personal training and the motivation and morale of training in a group, as well as the benefit of being a fraction of the price of personal training. Powerhouse may not be for every person, and they know that. They pride themselves on catering to an upper tier of fitness, beyond the everyday need to stay fit. Their style of training is intense, modeled after the kinds of training that professional athletes do and they don’t hold back. Their relentless approach to fitness has brought over 40 CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) athletes into the gym to use their programs over the last couple of years. That’s not to say that you have to be an athlete, but you do have to be ready to train like one. Training at Powerhouse takes dedication and perseverance, it’s more than just heading to the gym for an hour on the treadmill. For some, it may be excessive, for others it could be exactly what they need to excel in their fitness goals.

Neighbourhood: Hyde Park 1175 Hyde Park Rd. (map)

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Rev3K Fitness Refined is an all-around facility that realizes fitness is more than just physical exercise. The programs at Rev3k offer entire lifestyles to help improve your nutrition, motivation, and, of course, your physical fitness as well. Owner and coach, Leija Koeman, is a former Dutch Olympic athlete turned fitness instructor, sharing her training, knowledge, and experiences with the London community at their Hyde Park location. Their training style combines Olympic training, modern circuit training, anaerobic pathways and metabolic conditioning. Koeman has multiple programs to target people’s various goals, whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain strength and muscle mass, improve your cardio, or some combination. The various programs involve different circuits and offer nutrition guides to help you meet your goals and make sure you aren’t reversing those gains with every meal. There’s also a program for kids to ensure they’re up and active this summer and throughout the school year. Rev3K also has a “cardio cousin” on Windermere, which offers spin classes multiple times per day. The classes are conducted in the dark, lit only by candles. They believe that this environment allows you to lose yourself in order to push past barriers – whether physical or mental – and exceed your own expectations. If you’re looking for a gym that helps all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, Rev3K is a great one stop shop for all-around fitness. 

Neighbourhood: Hyde Park 1695 Wonderland Rd, (map)

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Combine Fitness, up north at Wonderland and Fanshawe Park Road, is a premiere training facility for developing and enhancing adults and youths alike. Their variety of classes and extended programs makes them suitable for most people looking for something new in their fitness regimen. The name “Combine” stems from the structure of their classes. There are seven varieties, each with their own combination and ratio of cardio, resistance, weight, and core training. For instance, if you want a heavier emphasis on cardio, the Classic Combine class offers a 50/50 split of cardio and weights, or Combine Boxing has a 70/30 split of cardio and strength training. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of your workout, any of these seven programs could be the one for you. For the athletes out there, Combine also offers specialty programs tailored to improving your fitness in a way that will also improve your game. They offer programs for football, soccer, hockey, and volleyball currently, with plans to implement basketball and track and field programs in the future. They’ll even train your whole team at once because what helps boost team morale more than a hard workout? Whether you’re an athlete or just looking to get fit, Combine Fitness has all the best elements of other gyms combined into one package and is worth checking out.  

Neighbourhood: Soho 180 Simcoe St. (map)

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ANDFIT is one of the most specialized gyms on this list, being a women’s only gym with dedicated classes for pregnant women and new moms. Owner and operator, Andrea Merucci Hsiung, has multiple certifications that contribute to her success in this niche market, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies and Psychology, a certification in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and of course, a certification as a personal training specialist from the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals. All of this education has cumulated in ANDFIT, a fitness experience tailored for women to build strong bodies and minds. ANDFIT’s mother focused classes include both pre-natal and post-natal yoga, mom and baby strength classes, and stroller boot camp, a six week program with two classes per week, which takes place in Springbank Park for a nice change of pace. But don’t feel excluded if you currently don’t have children, there are plenty of options for classes. Women’s Bootcamps, Strength Lunch classes, and Sunday Sweat Sesh classes run regularly, and regardless of your parental status, you’re welcome to join in and get your sweat on. Andrea’s goal is to create a group of women supporting one another and acting as motivation to believe in a happier and healthier self, and from the look of things, she is succeeding. The ANDFIT community is growing rapidly with no signs of stopping, so get into a class while there’s still space.

Neighbourhood: Berkshire Village 460 Berkshire Drive (map)

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Forest City Fitness is the only 24 hour gym on this list. This place never closes. Weekends, holidays, you name it, they’re open. Since they use key fobs to access their facilities, they never have to close! The ease and convenience of a 24 hour gym is not lost on anyone. Go whenever it suits you, even if that’s 3AM. Forest City Fitness offers more than just open gym time though, there are also a number of classes scheduled throughout the day, some of which are irregular to say the least. They offer gym classics such as bootcamps, Core and Strength classes, and beginner yoga, but they also offer oddities such as Kangoo Jumps class and POUND Rockout Workout. The former being a workout aided by Kangoo Jumps rebound shoes, a high end version of Moon Shoes from the 90’s, but for adults. The rebound shoes reduce 80% of the impact of a typical workout on your body’s joints, allowing people with bad knees and other joint issues to still get active. The latter uses the power of music to get you moving, but not just listening to Eye of the Tiger and other pump up jams at loud volumes – you make the music. Using lightly weighted drumsticks, the POUND system turns drumming into a full body workout, incorporating cardio, conditioning, and strength training with yoga and pilates-inspired movements. For the intrigue of completely new styles of workouts, as well as the convenience of a gym that’s always open, Forest City Fitness could be the perfect fit for your exercise needs.

Neighbourhood: Downtown 238 Dundas St. (map)

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At BPM Fitness, their number one goal is self-love. In their eyes, working out shouldn’t be perceived as a punishment or a chore, it’s a way to prove to yourself that you are worth putting in effort for. Self-love is a motivator to stick with diet plans, fitness regimens, and other healthy habits that take work – you do it because you believe you’re worth it and are proud of your accomplishments. BPM offers group classes and personal training with their fitness staff, working with you through circuits of high intensity exercises, a routine they call “burn, build, and bike,” that will dissolve those pounds and shed those inches off your waist. Despite the high intensity, the trainers never feel like drill sergeants that are there to demean and punish, instead they are supportive and knowledgeable, helping you succeed and feel the right kind of burn when you exercise. With plenty of classes throughout the day and an app to help you schedule your upcoming workouts, finding the right time to get out to their downtown location and sweat has never been easier. The environment at BPM Fitness is a great way to get into exercising if you’re just getting back into it or starting a workout regimen for the first time. The BPM team is inviting and supportive to keep you motivated through their intense workouts. For a positive experience from bottom to top, BPM fitness will get your heart pumping with good vibes and exercise.

The Best Ice Cream
in London

With the terribly long winter finally coming to an end and summer upon us, there’s one treat on every Londoner’s mind: ice cream. There’s nothing quite like the joy of a summer’s first sundae or cone, but with so many options across the city, one could have decision-induced brain freeze.

This summer, refuse to settle for the same old chain ice cream spots, especially ones that offer “vanilla ones” rather than actual vanilla ice cream. Look beyond the Dairy Queens and the Marble Slabs that find their way into basically every strip mall, and you’ll see that there are a bunch of London-owned joints that serve up some of the best frozen treats in the city.

Whether you’re looking for a modest scoop, an extravagant sundae, or something a little off the beaten track, London has more than enough options to curb your ice cream cravings. From local staples to fresh-faced trendsetters, these parlours and scoop shops are where you need to hit up this summer for a stellar way to keep cool this summer.



Neighbourhood: Carling Heights

1080 Adelaide St. North (map)

Basically every Londoner already knows or immediately needs to learn about Merla Mae. Located on Adelaide St. North between Huron and Cheapside, Merla Mae opened all the way back in 1957 and has been a go-to ever since across every demographic. You’ll run into teens and young adults on dates, retirees enjoying an evening out, and most definitely parents with their kids running around in their Timbits soccer jerseys.

You’ll be transported to the past with the pastel décor as you step in through the garage door they treat as an entrance. Only a few tables line the right wall and a couple of umbrella-covered tables outdoors, so grab a spot if you can, as they can be pretty hard to come by at peak hours, which seems to feel like every hour that they’re open.

Even after over 50 years in business, Merla Mae could be one of London’s perpetually busiest spots in London during the summer. There’s almost always a line due to their small staff and only two order windows. However, some people appreciate the wait as they look over the massive menu and make their selection.

Merla Mae takes a shotgun approach to their frozen desserts – that is to say they offer an impressively wide spread of options, so at least one of their offerings will satisfy every palate, no matter how picky. Their menu takes up an entire wall, which may seem daunting, but take your time to scan through, and you’ll find your perfect treat. Scoops of hard ice cream or soft serve on a waffle cone, fruity and/or chocolatey sundaes, creamy milkshakes, or sweet slushes, it’s all there for you to enjoy once you finally get up to one of the order windows.

The hardest part of going to Merla Mae is whether to try something new or stick with the sundae that blew your mind last time.



Neighbourhood: Downtown

226 Piccadilly St. (map)

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Pint of Ice Cream from Haven's Creamery

Haven’s Creamery is a newcomer to the London scene, nestled just off of the Richmond Row on Piccadilly Street. But don’t let the company’s lack of history concern you, these guys know exactly what they’re doing.

Haven’s only uses local, sustainable ingredients that your first grader would be able to pronounce. No preservatives or enhancers. Their artisanal product comes in almost a dozen flavours, including limited time featured flavours. This week they’ve gone for a lemony fresh theme with their new flavours being Buttermilk Lemon Curd ice cream and Lemonade sweet sorbet, alongside their apparently semi-permanent feature Half-Baked ice cream.

Haven’s storefront feels incredibly modern and trendy. Their storefront sports a clean, minimal aesthetic with warm wood tones and sleek white subway tile. Their menu is a stylishly designed blackboard for easy updating of their featured flavours. All three of these textures act as fantastic backdrops for posing for pictures with your cup or cone that are completely worthy of Instagram.

Despite their popularity, their limited space means they can offer only a few seats in the form of outdoor picnic tables and other improvised seating such as the ledges to their garden. Thankfully, ice cream paired with a cone is incredibly portable so the nearby Victoria Park is an excellent option once your ice cream Instagram photoshoot has concluded.

Even just walking by, the sweet smell of fresh waffle cones, made right in front of the awaiting customers, will coax you in and before you know it, you’ll be getting a double or even triple scoop of any of their enticing flavours in any combination you desire. And just for good measure, you can be sure to grab a pint or a litre of your favourite flavour on the way out from their freezer up front. You can share it with friends or family if you’re so inclined, or hoard it all for yourself. Either way, you’ll definitely enjoy yourself.

When high quality comes at low prices, there’s no complaints to be had… Except maybe for brain freeze from eating too fast.



Neighbourhood: Downtown

484 Richmond St. (map)

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If the classic scoop just doesn’t do it for you anymore, look no further than Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. This year-old business on Richmond Row offers rolled ice cream, a trend originating in Thailand that has blown up across North America recently.

Rolling the ice cream is a hypnotizing process that Roli Poli will do before your very eyes. They pour the liquid base onto a super-chilled slab which freezes it almost instantly. With quite a bit of elbow grease and a specialized metal spatula, the ice cream is spread and the toppings are incorporated, until finally it’s rolled into tight cylindrical tubes of frozen goodness and placed in a cup with more toppings. It really is something that needs to be seen, words just can’t do it justice.

If the theatricality of it all isn’t enough, flavours such as Apple Pie – vanilla ice cream, apple fritters from our friends at the Fritter Shop, caramel, and cinnamon sugar – or Avo-licious – an interesting sweet application of the avocado – will definitely bring in a crowd. They are always coming up with new flavours and combinations to consistently blow your mind on return visits.

Roli Poli offers three different bases depending on your preference or dietary restrictions: cream, yogurt, or coconut milk. Or perhaps your dietary restriction is simple pickiness and rolling up ice cream goes against your values. In which case, Roli Poli offers classic hard scooped ice cream in a variety of flavours. Whether you’re lactose intolerant, fully vegan, or stuck in your ways, Roli Poli has got you covered.

For a bit of a twist on the old ice cream formula, Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. is a trendy, fascinating spot to still fill that cold and sweet craving.



Neighbourhood: Southcrest

43 Baseline Rd W. (map)

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So local, they put the city in their name, London Ice Cream Company began in 1994 and has grown to incredibly heights since then. Their mission statement is to make ice cream “the way it used to be” and they don’t mince their words. On their website, they state “We do not make Ice Milk or Frozen Desserts. We make Ice Cream.”

London Ice Cream Company offers over 120 flavours including award winners such as Moosetracks and Peanut Butter Mudpuddle. Interestingly, their highest selling flavour is none of their award winners, or even classics such as vanilla or chocolate: it’s mango. The sweet and fruity flavour has gained popularity rapidly over the last couple of years and shot straight to the top of their best seller ranking.

Their local roots haven’t limited their distribution though, as London Ice Cream Company produces and ships ice cream across the country. You can find them in scoop shops, restaurants, and retail food stores from coast to coast. For Londoners, the most direct source of their ice cream is straight from the storefront attached to their factory on Baseline Road just west of Wharncliffe. The bright pink walls and picnic tables should tip you off that you’re in the right spot.

London Ice Cream Company also distributes their product under the name New Wave Ice Cream to their various outlets, but it’s the same fantastic product so don’t hold back and grab a pint or two for an upcoming barbeque, pool party, or movie marathon.



Neighbourhood: Old East Village

900 King St. (map)


Winning the unofficial award for most unique ice cream venue in London, Double Decker Ice Cream is served out of exactly what the name implies: a double decker bus parked on Wellington Road. The bright red decommissioned British bus is hard to miss when you drive by, acting as the only advertising done by the company.

From the bus, you’ll be served Shaw’s ice cream, a dairy based out of St. Thomas that just celebrated its 70th anniversary in business. They proudly boast that their ice cream’s first ingredient is 100% Canadian cream, always fresh. For their anniversary, they have introduced a few throwback flavours like Cherry Vanilla – a 1950’s style classic – and Saturday Morning Cartoons – a blast from the past that “tastes like that sweet milk rippled with a golden graham cereal swirl.”

Other spectacular offerings include cones, sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches – where you can pick both the flavour of the ice cream and the cookie flavour. For example, for total cookie overload, you could go for the Double Stuffed Cookie ice cream sandwiched between classic chocolate chip cookies.

Double Decker is a great place to bring your kids, with rock bottom prices and plentiful options, you won’t be breaking the bank to give your family a great summer treat. You could even bring a pint of your favourite flavour home for under $10. Plus the big red bus is a great spectacle for the kids.

For a completely original experience, nothing parallels purchasing delicious ice cream from the side of a double decker bus.




Throughout the summer, there are plenty of festivals held in Victoria Park that have entire rows dedicated to food and desserts. Whether you get a scoop on top of your funnel cake, or in some other crazy concoction, there are plenty of opportunities to grab some ice cream. Sunfest is coming up at the beginning of July, so head down and keep an eye out for an extra special cone or sundae on those festival weekends.


Although technically speaking, Chil offers no ice cream, frozen yogurt could be considered close enough by the common person. Chil is a pay-by-weight frozen yogurt spot just off of Richmond Row on Hymen Street. Their variety of flavours and toppings is so expansive, it borders on entrapment, where most people will end up piling on more than they had anticipated and pay the consequences. For the absolute beast of a dessert though, it’s more than worth it.

Make sure to look around downtown until you find one of their many coupons strewn around every bulletin board and lamp pole. You could end up getting a great deal on your fro yo.

Taylor Sue’s Cups and Cones:

Found in the Covent Garden Market in the heart of downtown, Taylor Sue’s Cups and Cones serves up more than just their titular cups and cones of ice cream. They also offer other frozen delicacies such as frozen yogurt, slush, and smoothies. For a bit less guilt, you can feel safe in the knowledge that this ice cream is healthy, as they can add protein, whey, and other healthy nutrients upon request.

The Scoop:

The Scoop is a classic scoop shop with a couple locations in London – one on Hyde Park and another on Wellington. Like Double Decker, the Scoop offers Shaw’s Creamery to great praise from the local community. Despite being barely more than a shed, the Scoop will often have a line down the steps full of people just waiting for a classic cone. While it might not be something to travel miles for, it’s a popular spot among locals if you’re in the area.


The Best Fathers Day Gifts
in London

Father’s Day, the frequently neglected holiday, is coming up once again – on Sunday June 17th for the record. But rather than get him another lame tie or another gift card to Tim Horton’s, why not go the extra mile and find him a gift he’ll be excited about?

Of course, the quality of a gift depends entirely on your dad. Not everything on this list will be a perfect fit for every person out there, but we’ve given a wide variety of gift ideas to fit a variety of personalities, from the classic machismo to artistic to a bit off the beaten track.

Dads are often impossible to buy for: if they want something, they just buy it, or they’re so stuck in their old ways that anything new will go unused. So we have taken a lesser focus on the products themselves, and opted for a heavier focus on the experiences. Even though dads sometimes have trouble voicing their emotions, they love doing things with their children, especially when they’re grown up and have left the nest. Taking the time to experience something with your father can make his day much better than just getting him a card.

With that said, every business featured in this gift guide is owned and operated in London as you may have guessed. These local businesses offer some of the greatest goods and/or services that could make the perfect gift for dear old dad.



Neighbourhood: Old East Village

760 Dundas St (map)

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Whistling Dicks Barber Shop London

The gift of a trip to Whistling Dick’s Barber Shop could be a time machine back to your father’s childhood, depending on how old he is. Whistling Dick’s is replicating the feel of a 1930’s barber shop and act as a safe haven for guys to be guys. Old tunes play from their stereo as you enter and you’re hit with the rustic scents of wood and tobacco.

Despite their rugged appearance and rustic décor, Whistling Dick’s is all about pampering their clients. Just by the barbers’ appearance, you may think they look more like butchers, but their hands are nimble and will give you and your father one of the smoothest shaves you’ll ever experience with their hot straight razors. And of course they’re some of the friendliest guys you’ll meet, chatting with every patron they comes through their doors.

Whistling Dick’s aims to be more than just a barber shop though, they aim to be a social hub, a place to hang out with other guys, a clubhouse with a big old “no girls allowed” sign if you will. And with a liquor license pending approval as icing on the cake, this could be a great experience for you and your father to share. He might even become a regular and owe you for introducing him to the idea!

Even if your dad might not be in need of a haircut right this instant, Whistling Dick’s is more than just a razor, a pair of scissors, and a buzzer. At Whistling Dick’s, you’re welcome to join in a society and experience the barber shop of yesteryear.

For a more in depth look at Whistling Dick’s, including a video with the owners, head on over to our Business of the Week on them here.



Neighbourhood: Masonville

215 Fanshawe Park Rd. (map)

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London Float


If your dad is more inclined to physical activity or he’s always complaining about being sore and his creaky joints, London Float Therapy could be an interesting new experience for him to try.

Featured in our Business of the Week last July, London Float is the only float clinic in the city. Float therapy promotes relaxation and healing through floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Once inside the pod, you lay in a shallow pool of salt water. The high levels of epsom salt increases the density of water, thereby counteracting the effects of Earth’s gravity and allowing you to float in complete silence and darkness.

While out of context this may sound like something out of a horror movie, float therapy is an incredible experience for most customers, allowing for both physical and mental relaxation and healing. The lack of stimulus allows muscles to release tension and begin to heal, while it coerces the mind into a meditative state. It allows for mental introspection and self-discovery as your physical sense of self almost melts away to the point where some customers weren’t sure where their body ended and the water began.

Sessions last for either 60 or 150 minutes, in either a float pod or a float room, which is more spacious for the claustrophobes out there that may still want to try, but both are the same price.

The biggest barrier may be convincing your dad to get in the pod. But if you can, this could be the perfect opportunity for him to relax his old bones and forget the stresses of his job.

For more info on London Float Therapy, check out Santa’s firsthand experience in the float pod in our Business of the Week here.



Neighbourhood: Old East Village

1030 Elias St (map)

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Anderson Craft Ales

For the beer drinking dads, Anderson Craft Ales is a great gift idea. London has an abundance of breweries within the city limits, but Anderson is definitely one of our favourites. Their Old East Village brewery is also open to the public, which makes the gift more than just a six-pack of their fantastic IPA.

Their small batch, handcrafted, premium beers are incredibly popular among locals, and have spread in restaurants, bars, and LCBOs (only the IPA so far) across the province. They even won the silver medal in its category at the Canadian Brewing Awards, beating out over 200 competitors.

The taproom and tasting room overlooks their open concept brewery, so as you sip one of their excellent beers, either permanent or a seasonal brews, you can watch their process. They also have a shelf of board games for your enjoyment, as long as everyone can keep their cool during a game of Monopoly.

Don’t forget to grab a souvenir from their retail store as well. A hat, t-shirt or pint glass with Anderson’s stylishly minimal logo would accompany the case of beer your dad is taking home perfectly, and of course acts as a reminder of what an excellent gift giver you are, even after the beer has disappeared.

To sneak a peek at the brewery and get more information about their products, head over to our Business of the Week we did with them last summer, found here.



Neighbourhood: Old East Village

884 Dundas St (map)

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If fashion is what your dad is into, Illbury + Goose offers trendy, high quality clothing and accessories for Canadians, proudly sporting the maple leaf in their logo. Heavily inspired by the trendy shops found on Queen Street West in Toronto, Illbury + Goose puts an emphasis on high quality and locality in everything they do and every product they sell.

The clothing brand began with two Londoners, Meghan Kraft and Daniel Phillips just wanting to rep their hometown without wearing hokey, low quality souvenirs. Soon, the couple were selling locally branded clothing out of the Western Fair Farmers’ and Craft Market and then moved into their own storefront in the Old East Village.

Their line grew beyond ball caps and t-shirts quickly. They now offer outerwear and accessories such as moose hide gloves. They also have their own lines of coffee and tea, assorted cleaning products – both personal hygiene and household cleanliness – and scented soy wax candles, featuring offbeat scents like Dark + Stormy, which smells of ginger and lime like its namesake rum cocktail.

Their minimal designs allow their clothes to fit into any wardrobe without feeling out of place, while still standing out as impeccable quality. Even for the old fashioned dad that has worn the same rotation of four polo shirts and the same baseball hat every day for years, a high quality Illbury + Goose tee or hat could fit into his attire with ease.

So if you’re looking to pick up something that your dad might actually wear or an accessory he’d use, while still being on trend, Illbury + Goose is a great place to look.



Neighbourhood: Downtown London

Harris Park (map)

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For the music-loving dad, tickets to London’s outdoor music festival, Rock the Park, would be a great pick for a gift. Rock the Park is a yearly festival hosted in Downtown London’s Harris Park. Depending on his taste, you could get him a ticket to any of the four themed nights of Rock the Park:

July 11th is “FM96 Presents” for the modern rocker;

July 12th is “Mixtape Rewind” for those who want a blast from the rock and pop past;

July 13th is “Bring Back the 90’s” for lovers of 90’s RnB;

July 14th is “FM96 Presents” for the modern rocker that doesn’t have Wednesday evening free.

The lineups at Rock the Park are always impressive and diverse, bringing in a variety of demographics. From 80’s sweetheart Cyndi Lauper to emo punks Three Days Grace to hip hop legend Coolio, at least one of the nights is more than likely fit your dad’s style.

Just to make the gift a little more sweet and feel like you’re doing a bit of extra good with your gift, part of the proceeds from Rock the Park go towards four charities: the Make-a-Wish Southwestern Ontario, Big Brothers Big Sisters of London & Area, the Brandon Prust Foundation, and Western Football.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to Rock the Park. Firstly, general admission is standing room only and lawn chairs are not permitted due to limited space in the park. So if your father’s knees and back just aren’t what they used to be, it might be in your best interest to grab one of the VIP reserved tables. Secondly, it’s an outdoor event that will be happening rain or shine, so check the forecast ahead of time. Wear your rubber boats and bring an umbrella if necessary. Thirdly, Rock the Park usually does sell out, so be sure to jump on your tickets quick, especially if you want to gift them to your dad on Father’s Day.

Rock the Park is a wonderful gift that you and your father can experience together or as an entire family, so grab your tickets now!



Neighbourhood: Old South

173 Wharncliffe Rd. (map)

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Whether your dad is a cigar aficionado or only partakes occasionally, a cigar or cigar accessory always makes for a fantastic gift. Baracoa is London’s premiere cigar shop, with a massive and varied selection of cigars for your gifting needs.

They have cigars from a variety of countries. Of course, the usual suspects such as Cuba and Nicaragua, but also lesser known tobacco producers like Italy and Mexico. While the prospect of entering a cigar shop may seem intimidating for the inexperienced, the guys at Baracoa, led by owner Dave Sorge, are incredibly knowledgeable and more than happy to help you make your selection.

If your dad already has his own assortment of cigars and doesn’t need any more, Baracoa has accessories that will make your dad’s day. Cutters, lighters, and punchers are popular gifts that don’t break the bank. If you’ve got a slightly bigger budget or can split the price across a few siblings, a humidor would make an excellent present to help him maintain and expand his at-home collection.

They even have an in-house engraver, so after you pick your gift, you can get it personalized with your father’s initials, name, or maybe even a meaningful phrase or an inside joke between the two of you if it’s short enough to fit.

Cigars are a commonly seen as a sign of celebration, and there’s no better to way to celebrate your dad this Father’s Day than heading to Baracoa for his gift.

To learn a bit more from the owner himself, check out our Business of the Week featurette on Baracoa here.


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