It’s been quite a few years since I smoked in a public place. I usually smoke at home on my balcony. I occasionally pop into the sampling lounge at JJ Fox’s in St James, but for a while I’ve been wanting to explore everything that London has to offer in terms of cigar bars.
Despite the smoking ban, which came into play a good couple of years or so now, there are some fantastic venues across town worth checking out.
The first on my radar was to The Cigar Experience at The Montague on the Gardens, which I found on DesignMyNight.com. I made a booking for 1 person on Saturday 31st October from 6pm to 8pm. The website states…
“Escape to our cigar terrace with our dining & cigar experience £49 per person
The experience includes:
- Montecristo Petit Edmundo or Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto
- Glenfiddich 12yo Whisky (50ml)
- Steak Baguette
Available Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 6pm to 9 pm until the end of October.”
This was one of the rare few days London wasn’t in a lockdown, so I had planned a few other activities to make a great day out.
The Montague on the Gardens is located right next to the British Museum, the nearest tube being Holborn or Russell Square.
It was approx five minutes to 6pm when I arrived by Uber. As I got out of my transportation, the hotel looked quiet, I suspected that the hotel wasn’t open, but you could see the lights on through reception.
I walked in, really quite anxious, as I was on my own – so felt like a right billy no mates. I asked the receptionist for directions to the Leopard Bar for my cigar experience for one. A gentleman escorted me through the hotel to my seat in what looked like a cigar terrace/lounge then told me he would bring over my cigar, whiskey and steak baguette. I had opted for the Montecristo Petit Edmundo. When the cigar arrived, the gentleman asked whether he wanted me to cut and light my cigar, but I had my own cigar cutter and butane zippo lighter so decided to do it myself. I think that was more due to awkwardness though – I always feel very awkward having others light my cigars – even though I wouldn’t mind it. The gentleman then mentioned his trip to Cuba – which got me asking lots of questions about his trip. I was due to fly to Cuba before the Covid19 lockdown was announced, so my flights got cancelled. I really want to visit there at some point. I love hearing stories about Cuba.
The cigar was fantastic, and I felt incredibly relaxed, the whiskey was a great pairing and the steak baguette was delicious, although I ended up with breadcrumbs all over me – I’m not the neatest of eaters.
As mentioned I did feel super awkward smoking on my own, luckily there was an older couple there and they started talking to me. We shared cigar stories, they were regular visitor’s to the Montague and they mentioned the cigar room used to be situated in a different part of the hotel. They also spoke about the Gardens, which we were overlooking but I couldn’t quite see due to the time of the evening – it was dark outside.
I got carried away and ordered a second cigar and follow up whiskey – the couple were giving me whiskey tips. They recommended that I don’t put ice in the whiskey as it was an old vintage one. It ended up costing a small fortune, but overall a lovely experience.
Sadly, the staff seemed a bit unsettled, as the prime minister had just made an announcement of London going into a lockdown again. This was rather unsettling and ended up being my last venture out in London until early December.
My rating: 7 out of 10
You can book your cigar experience at https://www.montaguehotel.com/food-and-drink/cigar-terrace – of course, once London comes out of lockdown.