Where to Smoke: Le Magritte Bar & Terrace, London
London has a vast array of Cuban cigar venues, many of which are concentrated in Mayfair. Here at the EGM Blog we’ve been lucky enough to explore the best of them, in order to keep our readers up to date with the best available spots to smoke in the great cities of Europe. Recent months have seen new locations opening up with a fabulous regularity, so we headed down to Brown Hart Gardens last week to check out one you might have missed: Le Magritte Bar and Terrace at The Beaumont.
The elegant frontage of The Beaumont
The Beaumont is a 5-star hotel tucked away in one of Mayfair’s most secluded spots. It is merely a few minutes’ walk from the shopping and hospitality of Audley and Mount Streets, but removed enough from the London bustle that the terrace is a serene, relaxing spot to wile away a few hours. The name of the bar was chosen to honour the Belgian artist René Magritte; his work, and the work of other early-20th century artists, is proudly displayed to complement the chic wood panelling of the walls. The resulting aesthetic is subtle, elegant, and befitting London’s most refined district.
When we visited Le Magritte the city was beset by some irritatingly unpredictable weather. A 20-minute walk to the hotel from a previous engagement was done half under umbrella, half sporting sunglasses, and the rain came and went at least 4 times during our time there. Luckily, this provided an excellent opportunity to test the shelter and weatherproofing of the outdoor smoking area – a test which was passed admirably. Ample covering for the tables, powerful overhead heaters (which will come into their own when winter rolls back around) and a high hedge on the side of the street meant that, despite the intermittent squall, our smoke took place in perfect comfort.
Antonino Lo Iacono, the charming manager of Le Magritte
In charge of the operation at Le Magritte is Antonino Lo Iacono, a veteran of some of the finest establishments in London. We sat together for over an hour, enjoying a wonderful Quai d’Orsay 54 from the humidor and chatting all things cigars, including his vision for the newly-completed terrace at Le Magritte. To share a smoke with Antonino is to find yourself in the company of a warm and friendly gentleman, full of knowledge about cigars and with a passion for making sure his guests are well looked after. He has curated a fine initial selection of cigars here, and has resisted the temptation to match the sometimes over-inflated prices of his neighbours. “I want to make sure having a cigar here is as accessible as possible. This way people can get to know about us, and become regular visitors long into the future,” he explains.
The bar's humidor is an exquisite DeART creation
The collection is housed in a stunning cabinet humidor; a bespoke creation for the hotel by renowned Italian artisans DeART. This magnificent piece of furniture sits proudly in the lobby, one of the first things guests see as they enter through the revolving door. The front has been intricately decorated with individually-placed strips of wood forming a sunbeam pattern, overlayed by a mahogany map of the island of Cuba. Stored securely inside are not just the cigars from the impressive menu, but those of regular visitors to the terrace who have chosen to take one of the 8 lockers available. Private collections are kept in the same immaculate conditions as the hotel’s own range, ensuring your favourite smoke will always be here waiting for you.
The concept for Le Magritte – and the hotel’s restaurant, the Gatsby Room – is to bring the attitude and style of the 1920s to the modern age. As well as the décor, and white-jacketed staff, this means particular attention to a cocktail menu from which to choose the pairing for your cigar. Classics like the Negroni and Americano sit alongside house signatures like the Meditation 1937 as ideal foils for your chosen smoke, as well as a long list of spirits from around the world. Worth a mention too is the sparkling tea from Jing Tea, served as an alternative option for those of us who don’t enjoy alcohol and well suited to a Diplomaticos No 2 or Vegueros Centrofinos. A good cigar is, of course, often the follow-up to a good meal, and the team at Le Magritte can provide just that. From quick bar snacks to more substantial lunch and dinner options, the menu is filled with delicious options to provide a solid base for a smoking session.
A glimpse at Le Magritte's collection
The offer of a cigar-smoking area is a rapidly expanding sector in the London hospitality scene, and with that expansion comes increased competition. Each venue must strive to set itself apart from the rest and grab the eye of what is an extremely discerning core customer base. Le Magritte Bar and Terrace will do exactly that – there are no bells, whistles or gimmicks here, but there is fantastic service, delicious food and drink, and a varied selection of fine Cuban cigars, served up in comfort and style. Sometimes all that is needed to create a good impression is to perfect the essentials, and that is exactly what Le Magritte has done.