Cigar lounges around the world run the gamut, from old and clubby to sleek and modern, wherever you happen to find them. But in Havana’s new Cohiba Atmosphere—a franchise that now boasts 13 other locations around the world—visitors are greeted by nods to Cuba’s most iconic cigar brand: Cohiba.
The entrance sits at the crux of four passageways that make up the small shopping mall on the ground floor of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski la Havana. There are shops for high-end watches, a Montblanc store, a L’Occitane outlet and various other luxury brands that haven’t been seen in Havana in several generations. The center of the hub opens skyward through the hotel itself, and from the guest rooms, one looks down on the arcade.
The Cohiba Atmosphere has a large walk-in humidor that is stocked with all the major export brands of Habanos S.A. Like all cigar shops in the city, the selection was missing key items. There were no double coronas in the shop, and the Cohiba selection, which the manager assured me was about to be expanded, included one box of Cohiba Robustos, a box of Cohiba Siglo IIs, and two boxes of five-packs of Siglo I and Siglo II.
Prices here are significantly higher than at other shops in the city, and all cigars at Cohiba Atmosphere are priced by the stick, rather than a box. A box of Montecristo No. 2, for instance, sells for 346.25 CUCs (13.85 CUC per cigar) at Cohiba Atmoshpere, compared to 241.50 CUCs (9.66 CUC per cigar) in other shops. Bolivar Belicoso Finos were priced at 273.75 CUCs as compared to 191.25 CUCs in the city’s Casas del Habano. A box of Cohiba Robustos are 486.25 CUCs, compared to 340 CUCs elsewhere. (All prices are in Cuban convertible pesos, which is pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar. However, a 13 percent fee is charged when converting U.S. dollars to Cuban convertible pesos, so a traveler receives 87 CUC for every $100 changed.)
One of several shop managers, Alexis Menendeaz, said the higher prices were a reflection of where the Atmosphere was located, and the high-end nature of the concept.
The other main difference (aside from the prices) is that every cigar on the shelves can be purchased as singles, which is meant to encourage purchases for smoking while you are at the club.
The club’s design elements highlight Cohiba and its line extensions. The Línea Clásica area has ornate white leather couches and chairs in a Louis XIV style. The Siglo, or Línea 1492, section has bright yellow, more modern style furniture, and the section attributed to the Maduro 5 line has couches and chairs in soft brown leather. The VIP lounge and meeting room upstairs echoes the Cohiba Behike line, with black leather couches and chairs along with silver lamps and ashtrays.
There is a full bar with all the top Cuban rums, including Havana Club’s Selección de Maestros and the Havana Club 15-year-old, and other rums like Santiago 12-year-old, 20-year-old and 25-year-old. The bar also has lesser-known rums such as Caney and Varadero. The lounge stocks other spirits as well, such as Chivas Regal 18- and 25-year-old, a Glenlivet and several VSOP Cognacs, including Martell. There is also a fancy Italian espresso machine to make fresh coffee for the guests.
Cohiba Atmosphere - Havana
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski
San Rafael Street
10100 Havana, Cuba
+53 786 99100
Open daily until 9 p.m.