I have wanted to visit The Ritz, London to smoke a cigar in their luxury cigar shop and sampling Lounge for quite some time, located on the ground floor of the iconic Piccadilly grande dame hotel. I usually walk past it on the way to Green Park tube station, usually after a stroll around the many cigars shops down St James’ Street, London. The frosted glass on the cigar lounge windows makes the place feel pretty mysterious, and I am always left guessing what it looks like on the inside.
It only opened in May 2018, I initially thought it had been around for years!
I knew I wanted it to be on a special occasion when I went, so I decided to visit on my birthday. I also booked an afternoon tea beforehand because I knew I would need something to eat before smoking a cigar midway through the day. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to spend some significant time at The Ritz.
Making a reservation
I made my initial enquiries to The Ritz London Cigar Lounge Team by getting their contact details from The Ritz London Cigars website. I asked them a series of questions, and they responded promptly with more info.
“Our indoor Cigar Lounge & Shop is open from 11.00 to 20.00 every day. It’s a sample room, so you’ll need to purchase our cigars. There’s no time limit for our guests smoking in the Lounge.
We do the last order for cigars and drinks at 19.00 because you’ll need at least an hour to enjoy and have a pleasant experience with us. By law, at 20.00, everyone needs to be outside of the Lounge.
We have a smart casual dress code that means: no trainers or sneakers are allowed and no sportswear, ripped jeans or shorts.
The menu for the drinks choice is the same as our next-door Bar called Rivoli Bar at The Ritz, and in it, you’ll find a large variety of Champagne, wines, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks, hot beverages and mocktails. We can’t provide any food by law in our sampling room, but some nibbles such as olives, nuts and crackers are served with your drinks.
If you would like to reserve a table with us, I’ll need a few more details such as surname, date and hour, number of guests and a phone number.”
The communication was perfect. It made me feel completely at ease, knowing what to expect before turning up at the venue. I sent my details as requested, and the team reserved a table for me.
On the day…
I entered the hotel by The Ritz Club entrance for the most fantastic afternoon tea in The Ritz Club Ballroom. I had luggage with me as I was staying in London overnight (at a different hotel), and the hotel was able to store my bags in their cloakroom. After the tea, I walked up through the hotel towards the Ritz London Cigar Lounge.
The walk-in humidor
It was there I met our cigar sommelier Luca who welcomed me to the Lounge and took me inside the handcrafted walk-in humidor to look at the wide range of cigars on offer, from the latest and best regional, limited editions and vintage cigars.
Selecting a cigar
Before visiting, I had heard that The Ritz have their own Ritz London Cigar range. I asked about this, and Luca talked me through what was on offer, including the Churchill, the 1906 Laguito, the Family Reserve, and the Piccadilly collections.
I really liked the sound of the Ritz London Family Reserve, which was described as follows, ‘This unifying smoke enhances its spice, leather, dry tea leaves and fig notes, whilst making it an exceptional draw for its size. Unifying the Americas through this meditative smoke are the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Ecuador. Three regions steeped by a shared history, not unlike the ones we share with family and friends.’
I had to try a cigar from this range. It was an absolute must, as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find this brand anywhere else. I opted for the Ritz London Family Reserve ‘Blue’, which cost £80.00. It looked like a birthday cigar due to its size. I can’t recall the ring gauge or the length of the cigar, but it felt more than a 50 ring gauge and at least 6 inches in length.
I was also keen on trying the Ritz London Churchill, because it was more full bodied, something I have developed a preference for. Maybe something I will try next time! 😉
Check out this sample of The Ritz Cigar Menu that goes into more detail about the other cigars in the Ritz London Cigar range:
The Ritz website goes into more detail about how Ritz London Cigars are made, including the following video:
The sampling lounge
Once I had selected my cigar, the cigar sommelier led me into the cigar sampling lounge. The Lounge is bright with lots of light from the frosted glass outside, reflected in the mirrors surrounding the room.
The leather chairs are striking in yellow and surround several tables with cigar ashtrays in the room. The seating arrangement made it feel like a place to gather with friends instead of a solo smoking spot. Luckily, I was with a friend, and we were the only ones there.
It had a charming, relaxing and calm atmosphere. The Lounge pays tribute to some of the hotel’s iconic guests from past and present, including Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, actors Charlie Chaplin and Sir Roger Moore, who all shared a passion for the finest cigars.
The room had the most wonderful smell of cigars. Earlier in the day, the lounge had been used for a cigar training session with Tor Imports.
Smoking my cigar
Once I was seated the cigar sommelier bought in my cigar, cut the cap, offering a choice of cut. I went with a straight cut for this particular cigar – and he lit my cigar.
I took a couple of initial draws, and was absolutely delighted with my choice.
Pairing my cigar with a drink
I was then introduced to a cigar sommelier called Joe, who asked me about which drink I would like to pair my cigar with. I was handed a menu which listed a load of drinks. As it was my birthday, I went for the signature cocktail – a Churchill’s Courage at £23.00. Described as follows, “The Ritz London was one of Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite hotels; a location where he gained the courage to lead the country. This bold cocktail resembles the character of Churchill’s unquestionable leadership and partnership with America. Butter Washed Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Maple Syrup, Ramos Pinto White Port, Vanilla Bitters”.
My overall review
The Ritz London Family Reserve ‘Blue’ was a great cigar. It was a spicy cigar paired with the sweet-tasting Churchill’s Courage cocktail – making it a perfect match. I did experience a slightly uneven burn to the cigar and had to relight it a couple of times. But overall, I am delighted I tried such a unique cigar in such a fantastic venue.
Luca & Joe really made my experience one to remember! It was nice chatting with them both and hearing about their passion for cigars. They made me and my friend feel welcome. I must admit, before going in, I thought the venue might be a little snobby and stuck up, but it was the complete opposite—a place I would return to. Next time, I am keen to try the Ritz London Churchill, as I love a full-bodied cigar.
In terms of cost, it was pricey; there are cheaper cigars on the menu, and you will be able to get cigars cheaper online, but it’s the experience you also pay for with these kinds of cigar outings. As a special occasion, in this instance, my birthday, this felt like a great place to celebrate – and I would totally recommend a visit!
If you are interested in visiting The Ritz London Cigar Shop & Lounge, check out the details below…
The Ritz London,
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7300 2500
Check out my reviews from other Cigar bars, terraces, smoking lounges across London.