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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 6)

La Casa del Habano, Hotel Palco
Calle 11 y 146, Cubanacan, Playa

If you’re not staying at Cuba’s Hotel Palco, you might find yourself there for some type of convention, for the hotel abuts the Palazio de Convenciones. The 14-year-old hotel has one of Cuba’s more modest Casa del Habanos, a small shop conveniently located next door to the hotel’s currency exchange center (something all tourists need in Cuba). Look up and you’ll see an oversized guillotine cigar cutter hanging over the entrance.

Inside is a friendly staff, a cigar roller and a walk-in humidor that’s nearly 30 feet wide, with a decent selection of cigars. (Although on a May visit the back end of the humidor served as storage for some shirts, rather than cigars.) The selection of singles is limited compared with most Casa del Habanos.

Every Casa has its own identity, and the Palco’s also sells chocolates, which could come in handy if your cigar shopping takes longer than anticipated and you have a spouse to placate.

An elderly cigar roller who had spent 54 years in various Cuban factories was making beautiful cigars in the shop window, across from a selection of various cigar accessories. There’s a smoking area in the middle of the store itself, but a backroom with a good-sized bar offers a more civilized and private place to puff. If you choose the right time to visit, you may bump into a group of women who come to the Palco La Casa every month—they come together to smoke Cuban cigars and drink Cuban rum.

The shop at the Hotel Palco is decent enough if you’re staying at the hotel, or if you’re attending a function at the convention center, but it’s not a shop you should travel far just to visit.

Casa del Tabaco La Escogida, Hotel Comodoro
Av. 3 y Calle 84, Playa

While the name Comodoro sparks memories of old Havana, old and hotels don’t go well together in Cuba, so the confidence level wasn’t high when I walked toward the cigar shop at this well-known but quite weathered Cuban hotel, which has a white sign at an angle to an old ship’s wheel, paired nicely with the Epcot Center-style concrete façade of the hotel.

One need not enter the hotel to go into the shop, with its entrance set off to the left of the front doors of the hotel, near a four-foot-tall statue of a smiling crocodile standing at a desk.

The shop has a more modest selection of cigars than those found at Casa del Habanos, and the variety of single cigars is particularly limited. The shop does have a very talented cigar roller, who works while wearing a shirt and tie, and effortlessly rolls cigars for the house, which are kept in their own four-foot-tall cabinet, made of dark wood with a pyramid on top.

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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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