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Cigar Lounges | Little Book of Wonders



Little Book of Wonders | October 2013 

Cuban revolution

Cigar lounge at the Alpina Gstaad hotel

Cigar lounge at the Alpina Gstaad hotel

The best places to enjoy a good cigar and a whisky. By Laura Ivill

“What we’ve seen since the smoking ban, and especially in the last two or three years, is the rise in what we call Cosas – comfortable outdoor smoking areas,” says Jemma Freeman, the sixth generation to run her family firm of Hunters & Frankau, the sole importer of Cuban cigars to the UK. What is the draw of, well, the draw? “Cigar smoking is seen as an intelligent, considered pastime, spent relaxing in the company of good friends, usually over a quality drink. Cuban cigars are made solely of tobacco leaves, aged and blended, and a bit of gum, they are chemical free. Plus, there’s a lifetime’s learning about cigars, a broad spectrum of tastes and vintages, just as there is with whisky and wine.”

And, it’s true about Cosas. We’re tripping over them in London right now: the Lanesborough, Dukes, Boisdale, the Corinthia, Annabel’s, 5 Hartford Street, the Boundary are some of the best of the greats, alongside the homage to the most famous cigar smoker of all, our “Greatest Briton” Winston Churchill at the Churchill Bar & Terrace on Portman Square. Brendan Shorrock presides over its humidor: “I like nothing better than to see people sitting back relaxing with a cigar and a good whisky,” he says. “With a Cohiba Behike 52, I’d recommend the perfect accompaniment is a glass of Highland Park 18-year-old.”

In Switzerland, within its new £200 million construction, the new Alpina Gstaad hotel installed an indoor fumoir that’s a showstopper. It has created a modern take on the famous cigar lounges of Havana, serving a list of 50 cigars from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, whisky, rum and cognac. Along with the dark wood, warm lighting, red-silk lampshades and hand-picked contemporary art, for the ultimate in comfort the distressed deep-button leather armchairs have a small custom-designed table attached with its own ashtray at arm’s length. All you need to do is puff.

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