Where to Smoke: The Garden Lounge at Corinthia Hotel London
The Garden Lounge signature cocktail - La Habana with Cohiba Cigars
IMPECCABLE KNOWLEDGE . DIVERSE CUBAN CIGARS. A PEACEFUL GARDEN LOUNGE
The second editorial in our spotlight series Where to Smoke. An inside guide on the most opulent rooms, lounges and terraces to unwind with Cuban Cigars. Located in the midst of Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Westminster, our next stop is Corinthia Hotel London. Below is our first article from the series:
Standing on the quiet street overlooking the grey-white buildings of London, the warm yellow of the Corinthia Hotel London casts an element of light – an inviting, marvellous grandeur, boldly beckoning you inside. The 5 star, 6 floor building, provides heritage, style and a diversity of facilities – enough to book a vacation and never leave the pristine walls. On our assignment to unearth the world’s greatest places to smoke Cuban Cigars, we marvelled through the splendour until we reached The Garden Lounge. An al fresco, outdoor space, complete with a bespoke humidor, hand-crafted mosaics, and some of the most tempting drinks to sip while smoking a habano. Beyond the beauty and exceptional menu, we found one of the hotel’s best offerings, head cigar sommelier Adam Lajca.
Outside the stunning exterior of Corinthia Hotel, with the welcoming reception area
"it's so relaxing, quiet as well"
THE GARDEN LOUNGE'S LUXURY - “One of the objectives is to wow the customer.” Wearing a suit with a silk tie, Adam spoke with self-assurance – a poised tone, making you believe Havana cigars runs in a chromosome of his DNA. His hard-work and patience to learn the craft instantaneously shows. The 4 signature cocktails he created, the humidor cigars he looks after, and the overall tranquil atmosphere in the lounge. It’s easy to see how the place remains unique amongst the sea of London cigar areas. “We cannot be anymore in the centre of London, and when you’re sitting here you don’t feel like you’re sitting in Central London, because it’s so relaxing, quiet as well at the same time”.
Collaborating with David Collins Studio, The Garden Lounge has a sense of infinite capacity. Privacy is found, with a lack of breeze from the wind; no issues with temperature or extraction. “The outside area has a good coverage during the rain. If you’re sitting by the table, you’re well covered. The actual building is very high – you don’t have a wind factor at all. You don’t have the problem of being in a place which is going to be very smoky”.
The dazzling ceilings and lights, enhance the ambiance and setting
CORINTHIA HOTEL LONDON'S UNIQUE FACILITIES - The great pleasure of smoking at the Corinthia Hotel London, is the opulent offerings on your door-step. “You can spend a good day or evening here because we have two restaurants [The Northall and newly-opened Kerridge’s Bar & Grill], and you can have afternoon tea and then come for a cigar. You have everything in the same place. The spa as well – you can have a cigar before or after. Not many places have all those outlets”. Although the success of Kerridge’s Bar & Grill has led to a fully-booked dining room, when you do have a chance to visit, you are in for a charming treat.
With The Garden Lounge itself, all staff are well-trained, so you will always be greeted to trusting advice if you fancy a cigar recommendation. You can bring your own, though a minimum spend of £35 at the lounge is mandatory after 6pm. We undoubtedly suggest you sample what Adam has kept spotless in the humidor. As head cigar sommelier and a certified Master of Havana Cigars, his role entails critical understanding of knowing when a cigar is ready to be smoked, how to suggest a cigar and drink or food pairing, and how to choose the right Cuban Cigars for each hour of the day. Whether new or experienced, all cigar smokers are in safe hands.
The hand-built, bespoke humidor, and the delectable Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 Cigar
"both temperature and humidity controlled"
THE GARDEN LOUNGE BESPOKE HUMIDOR – Massimo de Munari is who you request when you desire your humidor to replicate a piece of art. Adam praised the piece as “flawless” and discussed how the walk-in humidor is air-conditioned, but the units controlling the cabinets are both temperature and humidity controlled. He believes this is very important. Considering the range of clientele who wish to savour their favourite habano, stocking the room is a complex process. “We have a lot of regular guests and they want to have something new. We have regular production, Limited, regionals from different countries…Reservas, Grand-Reservas, pre-embargo cigars…. We listen to our guests on what they are expecting and what they would like us to have”.
When it came to our choosing, we couldn’t resist the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 Cigar. Only 5,000 boxes have been produced, making the Limited Edition Cigars incredibly exclusive. Despite the supply, the habanos are a firm favourite of our Cuban Cigars online. Smoking the luxury, we noticed the rich and aromatic flavour from being made with tobacco aged for three years, in a unique method. Most popular at the lounge is a Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Cigar – a fine Cuban Cigar with tastes of leather, a Cohiba Siglo II Cigar – a classic with a length of 129mm by a 42 ring gauge, and recently a Hoyo Epicure which we smoked.
The delicious La Habana cocktail presented creativity in a cigar box; Adam Lajca lighting a Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Reserva Cosecha 2012 Cigar
"A sweet pleasure based on the rum Zacapa"
SIGNITURE COCKTAILS AND APPETISING DRINKS – As hard as we tried, the recipe remains a secret. The most in-demand cocktail out of the four signature pairings at The Garden Lounge, is the La Habana. A sweet pleasure based on the rum Zacapa, blended beside lemon juice and caramel syrup. However, the intricacy extends further – “it’s made with our homemade syrup, which is made with our cigar blend tea, which is blended especially for us. It’s a pretty good cocktail, especially with the medium to full strength cigars, it compliments.” Rum as a pairing is a favourite for Adam, plus whiskey and champagne. At the Corinthia, there’s a nice selection of single malt whiskeys – rare whiskeys from 1938. Bowmore 23-Year-Old Port Wood is Adam’s particular prized preference. Cognacs, rum and tequila are also fantastic for pairings and are all waiting to be enjoyed at the lounge.
The man himself - Adam Lajca, head cigar sommelier at The Garden Lounge, Corinthia Hotel London
OVERALL EXPECTATIONS – If you are staying at Corinthia Hotel London, prepare for an enrichment of calm in a bathtub with a built-in TV, and a tropical rain shower in an ensuite bathroom. But if you are heading to the hotel’s Garden Lounge for one of the greatest places to smoke, expect the glass canopy, exotic plants and array of mosaics, to transport you to surroundings as peaceful as an island beach at 5am. Expect the service to greet you like you’re stepping into your house after a long day, and be ready to await glorious Cuban Cigars which we proudly stock in our cigars for sale online. As for Adam Lajca – the head cigar sommelier, who finds privilege in helping people to experience a cigar perfectly, his enthusiasm for habanos radiates in his manner, and is at the heart of The Garden Lounge.