Where to smoke - London's hidden gems
It’s no secret that the venue in which we choose to light our Cuban cigars can be instrumental in our enjoyment of them. Central London is fortunate enough to be blessed with an abundance of excellent options for both locals and visitors, many of which have been featured in EGM Blogs of the past. Alongside the more famous names, names like The Ritz and The Lanesborough, there are many hidden gems providing excellent service and comfortable surroundings in which to settle with our favourite sticks. One of the most exciting aspects of this global metropolis is its ability to continually surprise us, be it with new restaurants or lesser-known museums. The cigar scene is no different.
More and more venues across London are becoming aware of the allure of a cigar space. The appreciation that cigars are artisan products to be savoured, a luxury taste experience akin to a fine malt whisky, is becoming more widespread. Almost every month a new terrace is introduced to the list, designed to allow smokers to relax in comfort and devote even more time to the establishment than they would have previously. Historically one of the world’s most devoted and celebrated cigar hotspots, London is expanding its reach in the community once again.
Residents or regular guests of this great city will relish this constant evolution of the cigar scene. Healthy competition breeds innovation, and keeps standards high for those of us lucky enough to be able to visit the premises who cater to our passion. The variety of aesthetics, of pairing menus and even of surrounding views is vast – enough to keep even the most adventurous smoker entertained. We are determined to showcase the best for our readers to enjoy, and today present a pair of fine spaces which often go overlooked.
A classic Edwardian townhouse on a quiet street in the heart of Marylebone is home to No. 10 Manchester Street, a boutique hotel of just 44 rooms. In addition to the luxury of the living quarters and the delights of Dieci – their in-house restaurant, offering modern Italian cuisine – the hotel offers an award-winning cigar terrace, complete with a well-stocked and beautifully crafted DeART humidor. The space outside is intimate and cosy, the walls adorned with portraits of famous cigar aficionados of stage and screen. It would be easy to wile away a full afternoon or evening in such surroundings, sustained by the sumptuous food and delicious wine to come from the restaurant. Even in winter the space is comfortable and warm, thanks to powerful gas heaters suspended from the ceiling and soft, thick blankets provided on every chair. One would be forgiven for thinking this whole area is completely indoors, so complete is the protection from the elements.
Choosing a cigar from the impressive house selection, as opposed to bringing one’s own, entitles us to the added luxury of a lounge space that really is indoors. This sampling area is furnished in opulent leather armchairs, cigars are suggested, cut and lit by a team of highly-trained experts and sustenance once again coming from the hotel’s bar and restaurant. For those in the know, this secluded little cigar spot is one of London’s best.
Since 1900 The Hippodrome has stood at the heart of London’s West End. This glorious edifice, with its famous chariot overlooking the city from on high, has been a centre of ground-breaking entertainment from the moment it opened its doors. In 2012 it was reborn – after a prolonged period of closure – as a casino in the Las Vegas style; housing not just gaming but also world-class food and entertainment. Three unique casinos, 6 bars, an award-winning steakhouse and a 250-cover theatre occupy the interior. The early part of 2021 saw the addition of a further three storeys of outside space on the roof, featuring gaming, 24-hour food and drink menu and some spectacular views of that chariot and the rooftops of the city.
It is on this roof, and among these views, we find one of the best and most under-used cigar spaces in the city. All three floors welcome cigars, whether brought from outside or purchased from the modest selection behind the bar, to be enjoyed alongside the premium spirits and fine wines provided by The Hippodrome. What sets this place apart from so many of the others is the ability to play your favourite casino games alongside your smoke: roulette and blackjack tables are found on the first 2 levels, alongside traditional slot machines and electronic gaming terminals. The third level – right at the top of the building, and boasting those fabulous views – is dedicated purely to hospitality, a space to unwind with friends. The Hippodrome’s terrace has the added benefit of being open 24-hours a day, perfect for those nights which go on a little longer than the others or mornings when a coffee and cigar in privacy is the ideal preparation for an important meeting. For added thrill or glamour to a night out, there can be no better combination than cards and Cohiba cigars