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.
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.
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.