Edward Sahakian Cigar Lounge at the Bulgari Hotel
Tucked away at the back of Il Bar, near the spiral staircase that sweeps down to the Rivea restaurant below, is the Bulgari’s best kept secret – The Sahakian Cigar Lounge. The Sahakian Cigar Lounge is the brain child of Edward Sahakian and offers some of the finest cigars around. Aside from the chrome plaque, you may not even know it was there, and I get the sense that this is fully intentional.
Turning left, rather than right and down towards the restaurant, you work your way up a narrow set of carpeted stairs between walls of polished mahogany before arriving in a relatively small entrance hall. Once here, you really do get the feeling that you are somewhere secret, that you would only want to share with your friends (and of course, you lovely readers).
With the steel mesh door to the smoking lounge on your left, the vast majority of the rest of the entrance is taken up with two walls of humidors safely guarding some of the finest cigars from Eddie Sahakian’s personal collection. Two cabinets protect cigars from ‘current’ production, though there are some vintages there too, and the humidor directly in front of you is responsible for the rare and vintage sticks – some from as far back as 1950, others costing more than £1000 a smoke.
A loophole in the UK smoking ban permits you to smoke cigars indoors at specialist tobacconists for the purposes of sampling. So, you can’t just wander into this place and light up your Malboro Light – though to do so would largely be sacrilege anyway (heathen). You have to have bought your cigar at the shop (so no bringing your own Cohibas), which in my book is just a good excuse to treat yourself to a great smoke, settle down and have some ‘you’ time.
Which, dear reader, is precisely what I did. A Partagas 8-9-8 to be exact, 1999 vintage. Stepping through the steel mesh door (which is far more ornate that it sounds), you are greeted by a wood panelled room furnished with black leather chairs and dark wood tables.
Mike Choi the Manager and Atilla Szabo the Assistant Manager are both on hand to serve your every whim, though to use them solely for drink orders is a waste. Between the two of them you’ll find a wealth of knowledge (both Masters of Havana Cigars – they don’t hand these out for nothing), and they’re great chaps too. You’ll generally find them enjoying a smoke with one of the regulars, or making their way around the room to chat.
Sitting there by myself, it was quite nice to just relax and partake in my favourite pastime – people watching. Not in the stalker sense, but just casually listening to the various conversations going on. All in all I’d say the Sahakian Cigar Lounge is a rather lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a Friday (or basically any other day…).
Edward Sahakian Cigar Lounge at The Bulgari Hotel and Residences
Open from 4pm to midnight Monday to Saturday, and 11pm on Sundays