Changes to the inbound duty free allowance in 2011 mean travellers to Hong Kong can import only a single cigar. Luckily, there are plenty of places to buy cigars in Hong Kong, although because of rules about smoking in public places far fewer where you can smoke them.
The official importer of Habanos to Hong Kong and Asia-Pacific is The Pacific Cigar Company (www.pacificcigar.com), which as well as supplying many outlets in Hong Kong and Asia has 11 cigar shops, several of which have “tasting” lounges where you can enjoy your cigar and meet like-minded travellers or locals. In addition, Davidoff has several outlets, some of which also have tasting lounges.
Note that the “tasting” description comes because it was argued that it was unreasonable to expect smokers to buy expensive cigars without being able to sample them first. These lounges are not bars in a conventional sense for that reason. You cannot smoke cigarettes and can only smoke cigars which have been bought from the shop. In addition, while some of them allow drinking, generally this is because there is an adjoining bar, or because they are located in hotels which have a separate liquor licence.
Red Chamber Cigar Divan
Shop 405-406A, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central; +852 2537 0977
Located in the famous Pedder Building in Central, the name of this bar comes from the legendary Chinese work The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, a Qing Dynasty writer, and as you’d expect there is plenty of red in the colour scheme along with wood-carved Chinese furniture. The antique pictures on the walls are from the collection of owner Sir David Tang. Unlike many of the shops, the divan is licensed, so you can choose from the wine list of spirits, and yet also access complimentary wifi or broadband internet, and make use of the plasma TV and DVD movies provided in the venue. The shop stocks 30 major brands and 300 types of Havana cigars, as well as being home to 100 VIP cigar storage chambers.
Open: Mon-Sat 12:00pm-12:00am
La Casa Del Habano
Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers, 20 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2123 9952
Open since April 1998, La Casa Del Habano is in the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers on the Kowloon side, just off the lobby of the hotel. It’s one of the largest of the tasting lounges reviewed here, with two good-sized rooms at the rear of the shop, and with a large selection of drinks available from the hotel bar, as well as the possibility of having bar snacks (also from the hotel). The La Casa Del Habano cigar divan is decorated in warm colours and hues of yellow, orange and brown. Images of Cuba and news and information of Cuba is played on the LCD TV throughout the day. Cuban music is also played in both the shop and lounge area.
Open: Mon-Sun 11:00am-midnight
The Humidor@ L’Etage
22/F Macau Yat Yuen Centre, 525 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay; +852 2522 5300
You don’t have to drink alcohol with a cigar, but for many the two are inextricably linked, and so L’Etage is worth checking out, though you may wonder what you’ve let yourself in for as you ascend in the lift to the 22nd floor past numerous sushi and sashimi restaurants. As you exit the lift the cigar tasting lounge is on the right, the cocktail bar straight on. It’s a small, comfortable room, with a glass walled walk-in humidor and views down to the new shopping mall of Hysan Place on one side and across the harbour to Kowloon on the other.
Cohiba Cigar Divan
Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central; +852 2825 4074
Opened in September 1992, this is a small room (200 square feet) off the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (walk past the lifts and you’ll find it just by the florists). There’s a fully ventilated smoking lounge and the walk-in humidor with some 30 private lockers for customer’s usage. You can also buy cigar accessories, including humidors by Dunhill, Elie Bleu, Porsche Design and Siglo Accessory, as well as cutters, lighters and ashtrays.
Open: Mon-Sat 10am-midnight, Sun and public holidays noon-9pm
Shop L9, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2368 5774
The oldest of all cigar shops and lounges, though it has moved locations in The Peninsula a few times in the last 40 years. This has a huge collection of cigars from Cuba, Ecuador, Dominica and Nicaragua, as well as humidors from Zino, Davidoff and Elie Bleu. The tasting lounge is at the rear of the shop, though you’ll probably be distracted by the incredible display of lighters, many more like a blow torch or welding tool than a simple lighter, and in every colour and brand, including Lamborghini ones to match your car.
Davidoff Landmark, The Landmark, G12, Ground Floor, Gloucester Road, Central; +852 2525 5428
Davidoff Shop, Intercontinental Hotel, Shop R106 Salisbary Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2721 5520
ACANTA – three outlets: a shop and a cigar lounge at the Parklane Hotel in Causeway Bay, and a shop at the Gateway Arcade in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui.