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The Lanesborough Hotel, London

James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
George Lopez, January/February 2010

The Lanesborough is the only hotel where serious cigar smokers should stay when visiting London. It has a multimillion dollar smoking lounge that is unique in the United Kingdom, and perhaps the world, making it a cigar mecca for visitors and locals alike in the capital city. And while the classic British hotel offers top-notch accommodations, you might not be sleeping much at the Lanesborough.

On the same day the British government banned smoking in public places on July 2007, the Lanesborough moved its famous Library cigar bar in the main building to a ground floor outdoor area in the back of the hotel called The Garden Room. It was first a Moroccan tent-like structure, but now resembles a plush library complete with heating, tiled floor, rare wood paneling, leather seats, candles and fireplace. With its seating for about 45 people, it’s hard to tell you’re even outdoors as you relax with a cigar and single malt or something from the hotel’s collection of fine Cognacs in hand.

The Garden Room is open from 4 p.m. to midnight, although manager Guiseppe Ruo says that hotel guests can stay as long as they like. Ruo is a cigar legend in the city and travels regularly to Cuba. He keeps a well-stocked walk-in humidor with hundreds of boxes representing 60 to 70 different brands and sizes. Most of the cigars are Cuban, with everything from a Montecristo No. 4 for $22.50 to a Cohiba Behike for $2,500. Prices are per cigar and about 30 percent more than U.K. retail. Regulars have cigar lockers as well.

But guests are not obliged to buy cigars from the Lanesborough, Ruo says with a smile, adding that there’s a $40 minimum per person clipping charge. Bar food is also available, from snacks to steaks to salads. I like to travel with my cigars myself, so I know how it is. Customers are welcome to bring their own.

With the lounge, cigar selection and amazing offerings of spirits, Champagne, wines and Ports by the glass, cigar-loving hotel guests might be induced to spend every waking hour there. Close to two dozen pre-1900 Cognacs are offered by the glass as well as 60 vintage-dated whiskeys, not to mention old rums, Calvados and Armagnacs. There’s always a glass of 1970 Warre or 1963 Croft on pour as well.

But it would be a shame to not enjoy the comforts of the rest of the hotel, with its sumptuously appointed rooms and superior dining.

Visit lanesborough.com

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