Where to Smoke

Holt’s Cigar Co., Philadelphia

Oct 25, 2012 | By Andrew Nagy
Holt’s Cigar Co., Philadelphia

Whether you live in Philadelphia or are just in town for business or pleasure, the place to enjoy a cigar in the city of brotherly love is Holt’s Cigar Co.

Located in the heart of Center City, Holt’s boasts an impressive selection of cigars and accessories, along with an inviting smoking lounge. Holt’s has been helping Philly’s cigar and pipe enthusiasts since it was established in 1898. The store was bought by Albert and Jean Levin in 1957, and in 1974, their son Robert took over the operation. Levin created a proprietary cigar brand for the store in 1986 that you may have heard of: Ashton.

The shop is a 15 minute walk from Philadelphia’s major tourist area, the Old City, where, among other colonial sites, Independence National Historic Park, the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House are located. Twenty minutes in the other direction and you’ll be at the famed “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with The Franklin Institute and Rodin Museum nearby.

On the day I visited Holt’s, I left my hotel near Logan Square and walked to the Old City to check out the historical sites. I chose the scenic route through Rittenhouse Square and meandered between Locust, Spruce and Pine Streets, admiring the colonial architecture along the way.

After getting my yearly dose of history and patriotism, it was time for a smoke. On my walk back on Pine Street, an impressive craft beer window display at The Foodery, a small corner shop, piqued my interest. Inside was a craft beer lover’s paradise—rows of hard-to-find brews, some aged. I scored a bottle of Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde from 2011 and headed to the BYOB-friendly Holt’s.

The shop is set up in railroad apartment fashion, with three distinct areas connected to each other in a line. The first part of the shop features displays and counters full of cigar accoutrements—lighters, humidors, cutters and such. A door leads into the store’s humidor, which is the entire middle part of the store. And at the end of the humidor is a third door that separates the humidor and a cozy smoking lounge.

Interior of Holt's Cigar Co.

The humidor is filled wall-to-wall with cigars. Two active humidification units keep the humidity constant as shoppers glean the fantastic selection of smokes, which include everything from hard-to-find Arturo Fuentes and Padróns to Tatuajes, San Lotanos, Alec Bradleys and, of course, the entire line of Ashton and San Cristobal cigars. It’s a good bet that whatever cigar you seek, Holt’s has it in stock.

Wanting a cigar that I knew would pair well with the La Fin Du Monde, I grabbed a San Cristobal Elegancia Imperial. While the store does allow smoking in the humidor, I wanted to give my feet a break, and the plush leather seats and couches inside the smoking lounge looked too comfortable. Also, the Notre Dame vs. Stanford football game was on the lounge’s large flat-screen television, so that might have influenced my decision a little bit.

The lounge, while cozy, features enough seating for about a dozen or so people. In addition to the flat-screen TV, there is an espresso machine available for customers who need a caffeine fix. The store also has WiFi, and I saw a couple businessmen with laptops doing whatever it is businessmen with laptops do on a trip to Philly.

One of the store’s staff found me a glass, and I popped the cork off the La Fin Du Monde and lit up the Elegancia. While I drank and smoked, I noticed some other patrons had brought in chicken wings from Federal Donuts, a nearby food place revered by locals.

After about an hour, my cigar was waning and my stomach was growling from the smell of the wings. It was time for dinner. I thanked the staff for their kindness and headed back out into Philadelphia, where I continued my walk through its cozy streets.

Holt’s Cigar Co.
1522 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

"I was astonished to read that you could buy a La fin du Monde in Philly or even that you would know what is a La fin du monde ! I didn't know that Unibroue exports to the US. Nice to see our Quebec microbrews being enjoyed south of the border. Cheers !" —November 19, 2012 22:40 PM
"This sounds interesting. It might make a trip to Philly worth my time." —November 19, 2012 02:02 AM
"Holt's humidor is the best in the city, and even beyond its borders. Only the uninformed would go anywhere else. The lounge is quite cozy and big enough to stretch your legs. The staff does a fantastic job of helping and informing customers without pretentiousness. Soon the renovations will be complete on the upstairs stogie saloon and most of the regulars are very anxious for its opening. It is anticipated that (like all else Holt's) it will exceed expectations. A must stop for any cigar lover visiting the area." —November 11, 2012 17:40 PM
"Visited the shop last month. Nice selection with awesome prices. Attentive and professional staff with a nice seating lounge area. Pretty sure I stopped in 5 out of the 8 days I was in Philly for a smoke.. " —November 7, 2012 17:19 PM
"Great store, great selection and a fantastic staff !! " —October 31, 2012 13:11 PM
"The only place I stop in for a good stick while visiting family! A must for all of us BOTL to put on the list to visit and enjoy!" —October 26, 2012 22:43 PM
"Loved that shop ... Used to visit all the time when I worked at the Four Seasons Hotel, nearby ... Great product, great service, great people" —October 25, 2012 17:50 PM

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