London has emerged as a global destination for cigar smoking in recent years. Now there's a new hotspot – The Arts Club's cigar lounge.
Words by Reyhaan Day
Among the cigar cognoscenti, London is regarded as a global destination for the finest smokes.
With the most luxurious cigar lounges in the world alongside some of the best shops for your takeaway needs, the capital has become a hotbed of high-end humidors.
The Arts Club has long been a key player in the field.
But with the opening of its dedicated cigar lounge and terrace, Oscuro, it has become the place to go for those in the know.
Oscuro is warmly-lit, with luxurious tones of green, gold and pink, as opposed to the standard crimson leathers one might find elsewhere in Mayfair.
A small yet perfectly formed bar, housing a distinctive selection of dark spirits sits at one side of the space.
A verdant terrace is on the other – complete with retractable ceiling, heaters and a roaring fireplace.
Fantastic cigar selection
Of course, the cigars are the star of the show.
They are housed in a bespoke humidor set in the centre of the lounge, which was hand-carved in Italy to create the ideal conditions for the cigars to be stored.
“We have a fantastic selection,” says Giuliano Santilli, cigar manager, who comes with an unparalleled pedigree.
“We want to offer a variety to accommodate our guests. Each stick offers a different flavour profile, a different smoking experience.”
Exclusive, luxury cigars
“There are 27 different brands in Cuba, and we stock 24 of those. We also try and include new releases, to keep our members excited about the offering.
“Our selection ranges from £18 up to £8,000 per stick. We have to appeal to every palette,” says Santilli.
“Some of our members like to trade cigars – they are often collectors. We have cigars from the 1960s and 1970s.
“We have cigars that were made in only 40 or 50 boxes. Then we also have our bread and butter, regular cigars.
“Guests can also store their collection here – for £3,000 per annum minimum spend – and they know we will look after it, so they can just come here and relax.”
Highlights of Oscuro’s collection includes the extremely rare Cohiba 50th anniversary box.
“That is in the vault downstairs. This box is priced at £400,000. It was released in 2016, and it’s a gold-plated tobacco leaf humidor made by Elie Bleu, which is one of the best crafters of humidors in the world,” Santilli adds.
“They only made 50 of them, so there are only 2,500 of these cigars in the world.”
They also offer original Cuban Davidoff cigars from before production moved to the Dominican Republic in the early 1990s – among countless other unique and special sticks.
Santilli and his team offer their expertise to guests to ensure members are satisfied with their smoke.
“Our job is to find the perfect cigar for you, by understanding what our guests would like to try.
“We might ask what you had for lunch, or what you had for dinner. We might offer you a vintage cigar with a unique flavour profile.
“If it’s a celebration, like a guest has closed a nice business deal or is celebrating a birthday, we might offer the Hoyo de Monterrey Maravillas, which is one of the biggest cigars ever rolled in Cuba.
“You really have the feeling of empowerment just by holding it.”
Stellar spirit selection
There is also a superb range of spirits, focusing on whiskies, cognacs, armagnacs and rums.
Moreover, the team at Oscuro try to keep things fresh with regular events to keep aficionados and novices alike entertained.
“We organise cigar and spirit pairings, as well as cigar dinners. Also, we are starting to do talks about cigars.
“We have lots of cigar-loving members, so we always try to offer something unusual to keep them interested.”