The Burgeoning London Cigar Scene

By Londonist Last edited 104 months ago
The Burgeoning London Cigar Scene

Photography by Chris Osburn

Londonist has noticed that despite the continued legislation against smoking, the London cigar scene is currently going from strength to strength, spelling a new golden age for resident and visiting cigar smokers.

London has a fascinating cigar history and has always been a great city for buying high quality cigars. Until the late 18th century, most tobacco in Britain was smoked in pipes because that was the way Native Americans in Britain’s North American colonies smoked it. Only a few Cuban cigars trickled into Britain until early in the 19th century when the British Army under the Duke of Wellington fought the Peninsular War in Spain against the French.

Wellington’s officers quickly got a taste for the cigars smoked by their Spanish comrades. On their return home after the war, these same officers began to press for a reduction in duties on Cuban cigars. By 1820 they had succeeded and the first golden age for Cuban cigars in Britain began.

JJ Fox and Robert Lewis in St James’s Street is the last remaining of the cigar stores which grew up to supply the London Gentlemen’s clubs. Today the traditional Mayfair cigar stores are being augmented with modern new stores and outdoor smoking lounges in hotels.

New places to buy and to smoke cigars are opening regularly. Two new cigar stores have opened in the last month. Stores are adding sampling lounges where customers can check out the best cigars in a comfortable environment and very clever hotels are converting areas into pleasant outdoor smoking lounges which allow keen cigar smokers to delight in smoking with their friends all year round.

With this post we introduce our new London Cigar Scene series, sharing our views about the best places in London to buy and to enjoy a good cigar.

By Nic Wing

Last Updated 21 May 2010