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Havana Cigar Shops

The biggest city in Cuba has a superb collection of cigar stores that sell handmade, premium cigars
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

(continued from page 5)

The store has two floors, and aside from a cigar roller working upstairs, all the cigar action happens on the lower level, which is about twice the size of the upstairs floor. The downstairs is brightly lit, but grand and spacious, with several smoking areas. There’s a nook just to the left of the very wide retail counter, with a couch and a table where you can puff, and a smoking room that can seat a dozen or so patrons in the back, past the very large walk-in humidor. That room also has a bar.

What we found most impressive with the Nacional’s cigar shop was its selection. There was every size of Montecristo (even massive “As,”) every Cohiba (save for the Behike line), plenty of Romeo y Julietas, all kinds of Partagás cigars, including some Culebras, and just about everything else you could want in Havana. This store also has superb stocks of singles, which are arrayed in a counter display and on glass-rimmed shelves behind the counter as you walk in.

While the vast majority of the boxed stock was from 2010, we found a three-year-old box of Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas in a cabinet of 50 right there on a shelf. While many Havana cigar stores had old stocks of certain items, it’s rare to find something old from such an in-demand brand and size.

Oddly, all the cigars here, even those in boxes, are marked with the single-stick price rather than the box price. So don’t think the box of 25 Monte 2s is 7.60 cuc—it’s 190 cuc.

La Casa del Habano, Hotel Meliá Cohiba
Av. Padeo, entre 1 y 3, Vedado

You would expect to find a great cigar shop in a hotel with the word “Cohiba” in the name. Ten years ago, the cigar shop at the Meliá Cohiba wasn’t terribly special, but today the shop is greatly improved. If you’re staying at the Meliá Cohiba, it’s a no-brainer to stop by its Casa del Habano for a visit, but even if you’re staying elsewhere in Havana this is a lovely shop in which to spend some time.

The cigar store is located one flight up from the massive lobby at the hotel, through a pair of double doors that open onto a spacious room with a small bar and many, many tables. You might walk in and hear some live music, turning this area of the cigar store/lounge into a sort of club. A large, circular display case showcases ornate cigar paraphernalia—ashtrays, cutters, lighters and cases—and to your left is the humidor proper.

The walk-in humidor sits at an angle in the store, giving it a triangular shape. While far from Havana’s largest, it has plenty of fine cigars. In December 2010, it was the only cigar shop in Havana that had Cohiba Behikes in stock. In May 2011, it was out of Behikes (as was virtually every other Cuban cigar shop) but had decent stocks of boxes of all of Cuba’s major brands (Cohiba, Montecristo, Hoyo de Monterrey, Romeo y Julieta, etc.) but a very limited selection of singles. On this occasion there were Montecristos of all sorts available by the single stick, as well as deliciously oily (but somewhat overhumidified) Partagás Lusitanias. There was also a decent selection of cigars in three-packs.

A small table in the middle of the humidor showcases a few rarities, and allows for the staff to show off a box if you wish a closer inspection before you buy. If you opt to smoke what you buy here, you have plenty of space to enjoy it, for the smoking areas at the Meliá Cohiba Casa del Habano are grand indeed. There’s a full bar, along with plenty of cocktail tables in a spacious room. There are also small rooms off the Casa itself for meetings or the like, and in the very back is a small computer room, if you wish to regain contact with the outside world by surfing the Internet.

Oddly enough, as the Meliá Cohiba’s cigar shop has improved over time, its in-house cigar bar has fallen by the wayside. El Relicario, the cigar bar located on the same floor as the Casa del Habano here at the hotel, was once a posh, relaxing place to enjoy a fine smoke. On a recent visit, it was a tired old version of what it had been before. Pass on Relicario, but try out the Casa del Habano at the Meliá Cohiba.

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Comments   9 comment(s)

Simon Cathcart February 24, 2012 12:00pm ET

wait what do they say about a picture, it paints a 1000 words! Next time guys whip out the Nikon yes.

Bruno Gallucci — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,  —  February 25, 2012 5:52pm ET

I agree with Simon. Even your smartphone camera will do.

Damian Bancroft — Georgetown, Cayman Islands,  —  February 29, 2012 2:04pm ET

My favourite place to hang out with a loaded humidor and bar.

Keith Tramer — Stoughton, Saskatchewan, Canada,  —  March 13, 2012 5:09pm ET

Love Senor Diaz and his staff.....great cigar store.....great history, especially in the back room!!!

Roy Jeglum April 18, 2012 12:56am ET

I went there and was shocked by what a dive it was. This was my first time to Havana and was with a guide so when I walked out of there I thought I had bought real Cuban cigars. Wrong!
I ended up with 3 boxes of FAKES. I know this was my own fault for not inspecting more closely every detail that you need to but, REALLY... 3 out of 3 turned out to be fakes. The "FORT" was a good experience and at least has real Cuban cigars.

Andre Du toit — South Africa ,  —  June 7, 2012 7:02am ET

WoW excellent write up.
Will plan this into my next trip that is for sure.

Zdravko Brkic — Belgrade, Serbia, Serbia,  —  July 31, 2012 5:10pm ET

La casa del Habano at Melia Havana hotel is THE BEST casa in Havana. that is the place where ži am spending most of the time during more than 20 visits so far. excellent and polite staff.
Ypu can get all help you need, and in hotel there are few good restaurants with fusion food and Italian cuisine


I took your suggestion and visited the Casa on Quinta Avenida in May 2012... WOW! The service was extraordinary; very knowledgeable and they often offered me some lesser know vitolas that were exquisite (notably a Trinidad Edicion Limitada short Robusto). I was there the day after May Day so their stocks were pretty depleted, but I was able to find some nice little jewels and left very happy. Senor Robaina took me on a visit of the Casa, the different rooms, lounges and the "vault" where the lockers are. He also invited me to visit the Robaina Vegas Finas in Pinar del Rio on my next visit. I was only able to spend an hour there, but this was by far the highlight of my trip. A must on any trip to Havana.

James Poland Jr — Branchland , West Virginia, United States,  —  September 22, 2012 6:50pm ET

I would love to visit there. What do you have to do to be able to go over there? or can you just renew your passport and go.

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