Smoking laws vary significantly across the globe. While some countries have imposed nationwide bans, others are state or locally-governed.
With this in mind, travellers are among those most impacted by these variances. Although some UK hotels offered non-smoking rooms or smoke-free sections as early as 1980, it wasn’t until 2007 that a total smoking ban in all enclosed public places demanded full compliance in England.
Ever since, London’s finest hotels have strived to create comfortable areas that comply with legislation and allow smokers to enjoy a stress-free cigar in comfort and, with the vagaries of the UK climate, in warmth.
Here, Nic Wing picks five of London’s finest hotel cigar smoking lounges.
The Wellesley is one of Knightsbridge’s newest hotels and, after observing the care and attention lavished on the bespoke humidor and the two smoking terraces at the front of the property, we can also assume the owner is a cigar lover.
The Wellesley humidor
There is no concession for the serious cigar lover – the huge walk-in humidor, commissioned from Italy, gleams and even features a map of Cuba on the marble floor.
The selection of cigars is incredible with many extraordinary and rare cigars including the original Cohiba Behike, made for the company’s 40th anniversary and available at The Wellesley in singles at an eye-watering price.
This seamless year-round “outdoor” terrace, complete with fireplaces, state-of-the-art heating and custom-built chairs, makes it the perfect spot to unwind with a cigar.
The left terrace is open daily from 0800 to 0300 (0100 on Sundays and bank holidays), while the right terrace is open daily from 1600 to 0300 (0100 on Sundays and bank holidays). 11 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LY; +44 (0)20 7235 3535; thewellesley.co.uk
Bulgari Hotel, London
Inside the beautiful and ultra-modern Bulgari hotel, there is a wonderfully hidden secret behind a false wall at the back of the bar.
A short staircase rises to reveal The Edward Sahakian cigar store, which also boasts a multi-award winning Cigar lounge. The lounge is understated and elegant, delivering a beautiful and tranquil spot to enjoy a smoke.
The floor-to-ceiling humidors are full of beautiful cigars aged and selected for sale by Edward Sahakian, while the store is run by Mike Choi, himself a master of Habanos and a finalist in the Habanos sommelier competition.
The Bulgari also runs some excellent events, pairing rare cigars with a wide selection of drinks, which provides a great opportunity to improve your cigar education and meet like minded cigar lovers.
The Edward Sahakian cigar Store and lounge are open daily from 1600 to 0000 (2300 on Sunday). 171 Knightsbridge, London, SW7 1DW; +44 (0)207 151 1010, bulgarihotels.com
Corinthia Hotel London
The Corinthia is the new boy on the block with its internal courtyard, The Garden Lounge, boasting a cigar terrace and a beautiful walk-in humidor alongside a terrarium style bar.
The Garden Lounge
Staffed by a young, exceptionally eager and professional staff, the Corinthia is amassing an interesting stock of aged cigars and is most certainly an upcoming location.
The sizeable courtyard has large fireplaces at either end but is not yet a year-round terrace; it can be chilly in the winter months. I believe plans are in hand to install heating to make it truly welcoming whatever the British weather may throw at the cigar smoking visitor.
The Garden Lounge is open daily from 0700 to 0100; Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2BD; +44 (0) 20 7930 8181; corinthia.com
The Grand Dame of British cigar terraces has recently had a nip and a tuck to ensure she still competes on more than equal terms with some of the new “upstarts”.
The Garden Room
Following the 2007 ban, London’s cigar smokers flocked to The Garden Room, one of the two original cigar terraces. Still among the finest in the world, it remains warm year-round due to carefully planned heating and yet it is legally an outdoor space.
With highly-experienced staff, a great bar and two large humidors stocked with some rare and exceptional vintage and aged cigars, it provides a beautiful, cosy and relaxing spot to enjoy a fine cigar.
The Garden Room is open daily from 1600 to 0100 (0000 on Sunday); Hyde Park Corner, London, SW1X 7TA; +44 (0)20 7259 5599; lanesborough.com
No. Ten Manchester Street
In a small road behind Marylebone High Street is No. Ten Manchester Street, a compact and discreet cigar terrace and internal cigar store with a sampling lounge. (It’s No. as in Number.)
The boutique hotel is home to one of London’s original cigar terraces and it is still one of the finest. It is truly a four-season terrace with heating that is only matched by the very top hotels.
During the day, it’s often quiet and so is a perfect place for a business meeting with cigars. Or if you need somewhere to work while in town, it has good wifi, making it a great spot to catch up on emails.
Over the last year there have been some changes at No 10. The terrace now closes at 2100; to compensate a new internal cigar store and sampling lounge has been created, and large bespoke humidors have been fitted and stocked with a large range of cigars, which will stay open until 0100.
No. Ten also offers some unique rooms, each with their own cigar terraces and in-room humidors, making it a true gem for the cigar lover looking for a discreet home in London.
The Cigar Terrace is open daily from 1000 until 2100; the Cigar Store and sampling lounge is open daily from 1200 to 0100; 10 Manchester Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 4DG; +44 (0)20 7317 5900; cigarsatten.com
Click here to read our “Five cigar bars to check out in Hong Kong” feature. Coming soon… “Five cigar lounges – not in hotels”.
- Nic Wing is the editor of UK Cigar Scene Magazine, the monthly online magazine about cigars in the UK. ukcigarscene.com