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The Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop and Sampling Lounge at The Bulgari Hotel, London

Where to Smoke - The Sahakian Lounge at The Bulgari Hotel, London

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to smoke Cuban cigars in some of the finest establishments in the world, and to meet some of the most wonderful people in the industry.  The Edward Sahakian Cigar Shop and Sampling Lounge at The Bulgari Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge offers smokers the chance to do both.  The hotel itself is the quintessential London luxury venue; the name above the door belongs to one of the finest gentlemen inside, or outside, the cigar community circle.  Many hotels these days have cigar smoking facilities; no others have access to a collection built over more than forty years by one of the world’s leading cigar merchants.

The Bulgari Hotel London is found between Hyde Park and Harrod’s, tucked away on Knightsbridge and perfectly located for the bustle of Brompton Road.  Guests in the 85 rooms and suites can avail themselves of an Italian restaurant, 2-storey spa and wellness centre, private cinema and cocktail bar Nolita Social as well as the cigar shop and sampling lounge.  This is a property which certainly lives up to the Bulgari reputation for luxury.

The Sahakian Lounge at The Bulgari, London

The lounge is comfortable and stylish

Most cigar smokers who live in London or have visited the city even once will have dropped in to Davidoff of St James’s.  Since opening in 1981 it has been the go-to destination for cigars in the city, not least thanks to the welcome of its proprietor, Edward Sahakian.  When Bulgari decided to set up a luxury hotel in town, it was Edward whose counsel they sought to help them equip and manage a cigar sampling room their overseas guests would be happy to relax in.  They could not have made a better choice.  Alongside his sterling reputation for hospitality – anyone who steps into the lounge is greeted as they would be in the shop, which is to say greeted as a returning old friend – Edward Sahakian has, over the course of his career, built an astonishing personal collection of rare and excellent cigars.  It is from this personal collection that the cigar menu is drawn, making it the envy of all the other lounges in town.

Cuban Davidoff cigars from the late 1980s

Cuban Davidoff cigars on sale from Edward Sahakian's Private Reserve

Of course, not all of Edward’s collection is for sale here, but there are some absolute gems.  Alongside the regular production cigars one may find in any lounge, visitors can treat themselves to a Romeo y Julieta Robustos – Limited Edition cigars from 2001 – as well as a selection of Cuban Davidoff from the late 1980s and early 90s, and Cohiba Behike 56 from the original 2010 release.  Price tags, naturally, suit the rarity of these sticks, but we only live once and there cannot be many venues on the planet where the opportunity to smoke them is available.

Like any good cigar shop, the Sahakian Lounge does not simply allow the menu to do all the heavy lifting.  The team here are all personally selected and trained by Edward, and his son Eddie, and go out of their way to make every experience an excellent one.  Leading the team is Vanessa Da Silva Vieira, whose own experience and expertise in cigar hospitality is formidable.  First arriving in London as part of her previous career as a professional ballerina, she discovered a passion for cigars at The Lanesborough, before learning her craft at Annabel’s and Mark’s Club.  In August, she celebrated her 3rd year at The Sahakian Lounge, and counts herself lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from the maestro whose name sits above the door.

H Upmann Magnum 52 Year of the Rat

A selection of Chinese Zodiac cigars is also available

An appreciation of that learning opportunity is something shared by the rest of Vanessa’s team.  Everyone I spoke to – some who had been there a few years, others who had joined the team merely a few weeks previously – had the same report to give.  Such is the esteem in which Mr Sahakian is held, and this esteem is the source of another advantage this lounge holds over others – the ability to draw quality staff, and retain and train them.  The lure of an apprenticeship with one of the best in the business will catch the eye of many.

More and more luxury hotels, in London especially, are turning to cigars to keep their high-end guests happy.  Now that everyone has an on-site spa, having a cigar lounge is the next discerning factor.  In partnering with the best cigar host in the world, and thus gaining access to one of the best cigar collections in the world, The Bulgari have put themselves at the forefront of the market.

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