Take an E.P. Carrillo deep dive with us, as we sample every EPC cigar in the lineup for this CA review guide: whether you’re new to smoking or a grizzled vet, odds are, Ernesto has something you’ll love…
Keys to the City London – London Cigar Lounges
public smoking ban, there are still plenty of places to kick back and enjoy a good smoke. You’re also surrounded by history wherever you turn, which makes the experience all the better. As I’ve said with most of the other cities I’ve featured, I love London’s eclectic mix of cultures. It’s a lot like New York City in many ways. Great hotels, great bars, and a great selection of restaurants featuring every kind of cuisine imaginable. So, let’s get started with some of the best London cigar lounges.
The American Bar at The Stafford Hotel
St James’s Place 16-18, SW1A 1NJ London
Located in the St James district, The Stafford Hotel combines elegance, tradition, and a sense of timelessness far from London’s busy streets. Inside the hotel is The American Bar. So called, because in the early 1930’s the West End hotels began catering to the ever-growing market of American tourists who brought with them such exotic drinks as Manhattans, Martinis, and Sidecars.
The American Bar is a great après J.J. Foxes spot (see side bar) to continue smoking your cigar. They have a great wine menu and the terrace is well-heated for those chilly London winter nights. Friendly 5-Star service and a laid back atmosphere combine for a good place to grab one of their fantastic Vespers with your cigar for the evening.
Hotel and American Bar Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7493 0111
The Cigar Terrace at The Wellesley Hotel
11 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LY
The Wellesley Hotel has an authentic, 1920’s prohibition-era feel, with all of the comforts of the modern age. Named after Sir Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, this luxury hotel opened in December 2012 after a refurbishment that drew inspiration from the building's history as a famous jazz club.
Rich in character, the Cigar Terrace is located outdoors and nicely hidden from the main road. Since it’s heated from above, you don’t have to worry about having to put out your cigar early if the weather is cold. The unique décor, including a great portrait of Winston Churchill (painted on tobacco leaves!), big comfy leather chairs, and a quirky selection of luxury cocktails make this a stunning and unique experience. This is one of the premier London cigar lounges.
Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7235 3535
The Bar and Terrace at The Belgraves Hotel
20 Chesham Place, London, SW1X 8HQ
Located on the Belgraves Hotel mezzanine, The Bar and Terrace oozes understated luxury. Though it’s outside, its heated roof makes you feel like you’re still inside the hotel. Open to the public, the bar is fully stocked offering a great cocktail menu. You can listen to live jazz every Wednesday, and if you’re looking for some great smokes, their humidor is stocked with vintage Cuban cigars. The terrace closes at 11:00 PM, but it makes a lovely spot for an earlier smoke.
Reservations: +44 (0) 20 3189 4800
The White Horse
1-3 Parson’s Green, London ' SW6 4UL
The White Horse was once a gin palace and an inn for travelers. These days the White Horse is one of the best destinations for lovers of fine food, fantastic beer and fabulous wine. The exterior is classic Victorian, while the interior is decorated with polished mahogany, wood and flagstone floors, fireplaces, and intimate lighting.
The White Horse is also famous for their daily BBQ and beer garden. If you like hearty beers, they have a considerable list of high strength Belgian beers, and an expansive, covered smoking section in front of the house. If you’re unfamiliar with what a wonderful pairing a dark Belgian beer and a quality Maduro cigar make, The White Horse is certainly worth your while.
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7736 211
The Garden Room at The Lanesborough Hotel
Hyde Park Corner, London, England, SW1X 7TA
Located in this 5-Star luxury hotel, The Garden Room definitely needs to be both seen, and experienced. It’s a beautiful venue with as good a drinks list as you could realistically ask for, and houses one of London’s most luxurious outdoor cigar lounges. The Garden features an extensive collection of Cuban and pre-Castro Cigars in its walk-in humidor. It’s also considered to be one of the most luxurious smoking venues in Knightsbridge with the finest smoking room in all of London. The Garden Room also has a wide collection of Cognacs; some are dated as far back as 1770. Try pairing one of those with your favorite cigar.
Reservations: 1-877-787-3447 (From the U.S. or Canada only)
72 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0NY
Opened in 1990, Cuba Libre was one of the original restaurants in Islington, and continues to be a popular spot for its lively atmosphere, great cocktails and food at reasonable prices.
This bustling little bar and restaurant is drenched with Cuban influence, making it a great little escape if you’re up for a good smoke and Mojitos in the afternoon or evening. Between the whimsically painted walls, cigar art, photographs, and music, you really feel like you are in a bar in downtown Havana. They even have papier-mâché models of Che Guevara, Khrushchev, John F. Kennedy and Castro playing cards. If you like places with tons of character, great atmosphere, and a feel-good vibe, Cuba Libre is definitely worth checking out.
Reservations: +44 020 7354 9998
The Cognac & Cigar Garden at the Dukes Hotel
St James Pl, LondonSW1A 1NY, United Kingdom
The secluded Cognac and CigarGarden at the Dukes Hotel provides an intimate outdoor setting with a comfy lounge that is almost completely covered. You can choose a smoke from their selection of fine Cuban cigars and savor it with one of their famous cognacs or martinis. There’s just one caveat: Only cigars purchased at the Dukes can be smoked in the Cognac & Cigar Garden. That rule aside, the atmosphere alone makes it a great place to relax with friends, colleagues, or business associates.
Hours: Evenings from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Reservations: +44 (0) 207 491 4840
The Founders Arms
52 Hopton St, Bankside, LondonSE1 9JH, United Kingdom
A delightful, detached gastro-pub overlooking the Thames featuring great food, cold draught lagers, and fine wines and liquors. The Founders Arms has a well-heated, but uncovered outdoor section, ideal for a smoke while enjoying the view of the river as you watch the world go (and sail) by with a pint of Young’s Bitter, or a glass of Pimm’s. If beers, wines, and spirits don't do it for you, they have a Café Bar that offers teas, coffees, and cakes. Otherwise, The Founders Arms is a brew lover's paradise.
Reservations: +44 020 7928 1899
Halkin Arcade ' Motcomb St., LondonSW1X 8JT
No “Keys To The City” column would be complete without recommending a great Indian restaurant. If you love fine Indian cuisine and first-rate service as much as I do, make a reservation at Amaya. Located in London’s Belgravia district, Amaya’s décor includes rosewood and red panels, Indian interiors and glass, terra cotta sculptures from Bengal, and Italian leather chairs. The bar offers great cocktails, and food is served from their large, open-plan kitchen, and cooked using three main grilling methods: Tandoor, Sigri (cooking over a coal flame), and Tawa (griddling on a hot, thick iron plate).
The menu lists over 40 dishes ranging from seafood to game, lamb, and poultry, including more than a dozen vegetarian dishes. (Try the open flash-grilled scallops or the tandoori duck.)
Reservations: +44 020-7823 1166
Until next month, cheerio my fellow brothers and sisters of the leaf!
James J. Fox & Robert Lewis of St. James Tobacconists
19 St James’s St LondonSW1A 1ES, United Kingdom
Purveyors of fine specialist premium and Cuban cigars to European Royalty, including the likes of Sir Winston Churchill and other distinguished customers for over 200 years. Here you can buy the best Cuban cigars, as well as premium cigars from other countries, cigar smoking accessories, humidors and more.
This world-famous tobacco business started with Robert Lewis, who began trading fine tobacco on St James’s Street in 1787. James J. Fox was founded in Dublin in 1881 and opened its first tobacco shop in London in 1947. Fox acquired the business of Robert Lewis on 14 September 1992, uniting two of the most respected names in the cigar world.
The shop is managed by Mrs. Jean Clark who, in 1999, was the first recipient of the Cuban cigar industry’s prestigious annual Silver Chaveta award as the “UK’s Top Specialist in Havanas.” Since then, the shop has earned two more Silver Chaveta Awards, and has eight Royal Warrants of Appointment (issued for centuries to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages). JJ Fox is also among the very few shops to be exempt from the city’s smoking ban.
Tel: +44 20 7930 3787