Cigar Aficionado

The Garden Room at The Lanesborough Hotel, London

There are cigar bars. There are cigar lounges. And then there's The Garden Room at The Lanesborough.

London's high-class hotel (a personal butler for every room) is head and shoulders above its competitors when it comes to catering for the lover of the leaf.

Not only is this sensational cigar terrace warm, with underfloor heating, overhead heating and internal heating provided by killer vodka Martinis, it also houses one of the best-stocked humidors in the northern hemisphere.

Don't forget that you are in England, the land of the pervasive smoking ban, which has ousted cigar smokers from just about every comfortable nook in the country. Not here at The Lanesborough, though. No expense spared, combined with an ingenious design, means this is a thoroughbred among smoking shelters.

The room is low, ceiled by oak panelling with inset spotlights. A warm glow emanates from beneath your feet. Shrubs and plants to either side of the room give you the impression of full enclosure, even if there is none. And the open fire at the end of the room adds the pièce de résistance to the library feel. Discrete overhead heaters breathe benignly on your comfortable, leather armchair. In external temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit), businessmen around you smoke comfortably in short-sleeves, hands airily waving blue smoke from exquisite Cuban cigars.

This astounding outside venue is the personal fiefdom of Giuseppe Ruo.

The Italian, whose official title is Director of Bars at The Lanesborough, including The Library Bar and The Garden Room, is passionate about cigars.

"I travel to Cuba four times a year," he said in his lilting accent. "I purchase cigars for our humidors. I guarantee there are sticks here you will not find anywhere else in London, because I buy them myself, sometimes from other collectors around the world."

Bidding at Cuban auctions—sometimes from another country—Ruo is recognised as an authority on Havanas, and steals away with some mouthwatering boxes as a result.

Fancy a Dunhill to accompany your Champagne? No problem. Cuban Davidoff Dom Perignon with your gin and tonic? Ruo will arrange with a wave of the hand and a nod of the head.

Pre-embargo sticks, rare and aged Cubans and collector's items litter the cigar menu. And if you take Ruo to one side, he may even tell you about the cigars that don't even make the menu...

"When I come back from one of my trips," he laughs, "the regulars are here waiting for me. They're asking 'What have you got?' because they know the good stuff won't be around long enough to get on the menu!"

If you're feeling particularly flush, The Lanesborough can suit your hedonistic mood.

Giuseppe Ruo stocks the cigar menu and will prepare a killer Martini, too.
Giuseppe Ruo stocks the cigar menu and can prepare a killer Martini, too.

A Cohiba Behike from the original blending of this classic cigar will set you back a cool £2,000 a stick ($3,226), or a Dom Perignon £500 ($806). You can also accompany your cigar with some of the oldest bottlings and vintages in the world; how about a shot of Cognac bottled in 1770 and a snip at just £4,000? ($6,453)

These acquisitions are just a small example of how The Lanesborough goes that extra mile for its guests.

"My lemons are shipped in from Sicily, these olives from near my home in mainland Italy," he says, as we taste the incredible fruits which are nearly the size of plums.

"Everything we do is done to the best, the very best, and that includes cigars. I only smoke Cubans because they are the best. The soil, the sun, the rain—all this is perfect for cigars and it cannot be replicated."

With his custom-built Davidoff cigar scissors and trusty Dupont lighter to hand, Ruo awaits you in The Garden Room. Treat yourself and visit one of the finest places to enjoy a cigar you'll ever find.

The Lanesborough Hotel

Non-residents are welcome at The Garden Room, which opens daily from 4:30 p.m., but a minimum spend of £25 ($40) applies. Get in early if you want to bag that elusive seat by the fire.

Hyde Park Corner
London, SW1X 7TA

United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)20 7259 5599

Telephone: 1-800-999-1828

Fax: 1-800-937-8278

"Visited the Lanesborough a few times while working on my MA. It is a wonderful lounge with great customer service. The £25 fee for non hotel residents shouldn't scare anyone off because of the service and selection available. When I return to London in the winter I will visit the Garden Room again." —September 24, 2013 01:23 AM