Alex Skjong, Contributor
True aficionados of the cigar know what most non-smokers do not—a fine cigar, much like expertly crafted cuisine or deftly mixed cocktails, is not meant to be rushed. It makes sense, then, that cigar lounges are often dens of indulgence, places where a specific breed of sophistication is practiced and time stands still until the final puff has been savored. And London, Forbes Travel Guide’s newest star-rated city, is one of the prime places to experience a chic cigar lounge. Our Startle.com editors have gathered a collection of the five of the city’s most luxurious lounges perfect for puffing away.
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The Garden Room at The Lanesborough, photo courtesy The Lanesborough London Inc.
The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel
There’s an undoubted air of exclusivity in the act of smoking a premium cigar, and nowhere can that be felt more than in The Garden Room at The Lanesborough. As a guest of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, you’ll score access to the exclusive cigar lounge. The lush subterranean terrace holds just 35 guests and is a moody space dimly lit by subtle spotlights set in the oak paneling above, scattered candles resting on wood-carved tables and a crackling fireplace. Both subfloor and overhead heating warm the enclosure that’s walled by hedges (handmade pashmina scarves are offered to guests on chillier evenings), and floral arrangements and other splashes of green dot the space. The lounge’s walk-in humidor, the largest in London, houses a collection of Cuban and pre-Castro cigars while 30 private lockers are available to house guests’ personal collections. It’s not all about the smoke, however. The Garden Room offers an impressive array of cognacs, some of which date back as far as 1770.
Bulgari Hotel & Residences, London
Sharp, masculine and draped in dark, low-energy hues, The Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop and Sampling Lounge in the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bulgari Hotel & Residences embodies the perfect smoking environment every cigar lounge should possess. Even the journey to the space exemplifies understated sophistication—a discrete yet polished mahogany staircase leads you here. After making your selection from cigar magnate Edward Sahakian’s personal collection (including the rare Cuban Davidoff Dom Pérignon and Partagás No. 4 Reserva and top-tier classics such as Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 and Romeo Y Julieta Churchill), the adjacent Sampling Lounge provides a comfortable place to rest as you take time to enjoy each puff. And considering the cigars are stored in individually controlled, heat-treated oak humidors, take time you must.
The Bar and Terrace at Belgraves – A Thompson Hotel, photo courtesy Thompson Hotels
Belgraves – A Thompson Hotel
Adopting an understated sophistication, The Bar and Terrace at Belgraves – A Thompson Hotel might seem like the hippest—and most impressively liquor stocked—flat you’ve ever seen. It’s all part of the package at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. Cushy corner couches stretch around the edge of an exposed brick wall, while primary colored lamps bathe the area in a soft glow. Take a glimpse into the next room and you’ll see a fully stocked bar with a row of barstools begging to be occupied. On Wednesday nights, the lights dim and live jazz brings this chill venue to an even deeper cool. Sip a cocktail from the bar’s extensive list (including classics such as a whisky sour, old fashioned and mai tai), choose a humidor-sheltered Cuban cigar and let the smooth sounds of the music do the rest.
For a change from the low-lit spaces of other cigar lounges, head to the back of this boutique hotel to find the secluded Cognac and Cigar Garden. This all-weather terrace wears its garden title with pride as green trellises enhance the outdoor vibe and a white covering keeps you safe from the elements while maintaining an open, airy feeling. As you’re kicking back, grab a Cuban from the cupboard humidors and order from the historic hotel’s list of cognacs. And don’t worry about the daylight—flickering candles help to set a relaxed mood, perfect for the times when the sipping and smoking inches into the night.
The Cigar Room at The May Fair Hotel, photo courtesy The May Fair Hotel London
The May Fair Hotel
Swinging to the slightly cheekier end of the lounge spectrum, The Cigar Room at this London hotel is encased in a steel mesh that immediately sets it apart from the rest of the luxury crop. Dressed in all of the staples of a classy cigar lounge—a dimly lit space, posh seating—splashes of soft purple, orange and blue lighting accompanied by hanging fabrics, swinging chairs and, yes, daybeds combine to give this lounge a distinctly edgier vibe. Still, the stars of the show here are the cigars and drinks. A range of sticks from Hoyo de Monterrey, Santa Damiana, Bolívar and more complement the drink selection featuring spiritual relatives Armagnac and cognac, as well as a collection of martinis such as the Monte Cristo Daiquiri (cigar-infused rum, La Perique tobacco liqueur, citrus and sugar) and Gold Manhattan (Johnnie Walker Gold, Grand Marnier, maraschino and vermouth).