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Parlor vs. Salon: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
A parlor is a room for receiving guests; a salon is a place for beauty treatments or a gathering for intellectual discussion.

Key Differences

A parlor is historically known as a designated space within a home, particularly in larger or more traditional houses. It's intended primarily for the reception of guests or for family gatherings. This term brings to mind an image of Victorian homes with elegant rooms dedicated to entertaining visitors. On the other hand, a salon has a dual definition: it can refer to a place where people receive beauty or hair treatments, or it can signify a gathering of intellectuals to discuss art, literature, or other topics.
In the context of hair and beauty care, when people mention a salon, they're often talking about a commercial establishment where professionals offer services like haircuts, manicures, or facials. Whereas a parlor wouldn't typically be associated with these commercial services, but rather with the personal, residential space in a home.
Interestingly, the intellectual salon gatherings have their roots in 17th and 18th-century France, where influential individuals would host gatherings to discuss philosophical and cultural topics. This usage contrasts with the parlor, which is tied more to informal, private family gatherings or social visits in someone's home.
It's worth noting that regional and cultural differences can influence the use and connotation of both terms. For instance, in some places, a tattoo parlor is a common term, aligning the word more with a commercial setting. In contrast, a salon in European historical contexts could very much mean a prestigious gathering, quite different from a place to get a haircut.

Comparison Chart

Primary Definition

A room in a home for receiving guests
A place for beauty treatments or intellectual gatherings

Usage Context

Commercial or Intellectual

Cultural Origin

Associated with Victorian homes
Hair/beauty context or French intellectual gatherings


Informal gatherings, family settings
Haircuts, beauty treatments, or elite intellectual meets

Space Type

Generally private
Public or invite-only

Parlor and Salon Definitions


A room in an inn or club where people can converse.
Guests at the inn shared stories in the parlor.


An establishment where a hairdresser, beautician, or couturier conducts business.
She has an appointment at the salon for a haircut.


A shop or business providing specified goods or services.
She bought the ice cream from the corner parlor.


A reception room in a large house.
Guests were received in the grand salon during the ball.


A sitting room in a private house.
The family gathered in the parlor to play board games.


An exhibition of works of art.
The annual salon showcased emerging artists.


A place of business for certain trades or activities.
Jake got his tattoo at a downtown parlor.


A regular gathering of eminent people (especially writers and artists) at the invitation of a notable person.
The poet was invited to the salon hosted by the duchess.


A room in a monastery or convent where conversations with outside visitors occur.
The nun waited in the parlor to speak with her family.


A hall or place used for the exhibition of works of art.
Her painting was displayed prominently in the salon.


A room in a private home set apart for the entertainment of visitors.


A large room, such as a drawing room, used for receiving and entertaining guests.


A small lounge or sitting room affording limited privacy, as at an inn or tavern.


A periodic gathering of people of social or intellectual distinction.


A business establishment with one or more rooms equipped and furnished for a special function
A tanning parlor.
A funeral parlor.
An ice-cream parlor.


A hall or gallery for the exhibition of works of art.


The living room of a house, or a room for entertaining guests; a room for talking; a sitting-room or drawing room


A commercial establishment offering a product or service related to fashion
A beauty salon.


(archaic) The apartment in a monastery or nunnery where the residents are permitted to meet and converse with each other or with visitors from the outside.


A large room, especially one used to receive and entertain guests.


(archaic) A comfortable room in a public house.


A gathering of people for a social or intellectual meeting.


A covered open-air patio.


(arts) An art gallery or exhibition; especially the Paris salon or autumn salon.


A shop or other business selling goods or services specified by context.
A tattoo parlor


A beauty salon or similar establishment.


A shed used for milking cattle.


An apartment for the reception of company; hence, in the plural, fashionable parties; circles of fashionable society.


(Philippines) beauty parlor


An apartment for the reception and exhibition of works of art; hence, an annual exhibition of paintings, sculptures, etc., held in Paris by the Society of French Artists; - sometimes called the Old Salon. New Salon is a popular name for an annual exhibition of paintings, sculptures, etc., held in Paris at the Champs de Mars, by the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (National Society of Fine Arts), a body of artists who, in 1890, seceded from the Société des Artistes Français (Society of French Artists).


A room for business or social conversation, for the reception of guests, etc.


Gallery where works of art can be displayed


A room in an inn or club where visitors can be received.


A shop where hairdressers and beauticians work


Reception room in an inn or club where visitors can be received


Elegant sitting room where guests are received


A room in a private house or establishment where people can sit and talk and relax


Can a parlor be a commercial space?

Yes, terms like "tattoo parlor" or "ice cream parlor" refer to businesses.

Is a parlor always located in a house?

No, while traditionally in homes, "parlor" can refer to places like tattoo parlors or ice cream parlors.

Is "parlor" a dated term?

While associated with older homes, "parlor" is still used, especially in certain business contexts.

Is a salon always a place for beauty treatments?

No, it can also refer to an intellectual gathering or an art exhibition.

Is a "parlor game" played in a parlor?

Historically, yes. It refers to indoor games suitable for a parlor setting.

Are salon discussions always formal?

No, while historically prestigious, they can range in formality.

Can a house have multiple parlors?

Yes, larger houses, especially historical ones, might have several parlors.

Can a salon offer spa services?

Yes, some salons expand their offerings to include spa treatments.

Is a salon strictly European in origin?

While its intellectual context has French origins, the term is used globally.

Can men go to a beauty salon?

Absolutely, salons cater to all genders.

Was a parlor used daily in older homes?

It was primarily for special occasions or receiving guests.

Can a salon be in someone's home?

Yes, some professionals have home-based beauty or hair salons.

Is "pizza parlor" a common term?

Yes, it refers to a place where pizzas are made and sold.

What's the main difference between a salon and a parlor?

A parlor is traditionally a home room for guests, while a salon is for beauty treatments or intellectual discussions.

Can a salon be dedicated to just one service, like nails?

Yes, there are specific nail salons, hair salons, etc.

Is "parlour" the British spelling of "parlor"?

Yes, "parlour" is the British version, while "parlor" is American.

Can a parlor be used for formal events?

In larger homes, yes, a parlor can be a more formal reception room.

Do modern homes still have parlors?

While less common, some homes, especially those with traditional designs, might have a space designated as a parlor.

Is a funeral parlor a place for gatherings?

It's a place for funeral services and viewing of the deceased.

Is there a difference between a salon and a beauty salon?

No major difference; "beauty" specifies the type of services, but both can offer beauty treatments.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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