Featured Smoking Lounge: La Casa del Habano Montreal
Cigar enthusiasts will find everything they could need at La Casa del Habano, Montreal's upscale smoking lounge. Located on la rue Sherbrooke Ouest, it is easily accessible from the city's downtown hotels and provides a relaxing destination for tourists who crave a Cohiba and business travelers who need to unwind following a marathon of meetings.
As the store's name implies, you'll only find Cuban cigars in its walk-in humidor. Be sure to see an attendant before trying to enter (the humidor, that is), as the door is kept locked. The employee will also help you with your selection, introducing you to the latest releases – which can be important, given their unavailability in the United States. As you peruse the shelves, prepare yourself for a bit of sticker-shock, as Canadian taxes do hike up the prices. But, for the cigar that will make the next hour magical, it's worth the sting.
Though you may want to pick up a few sticks for the road, make some time to smoke at least one in La Casa del Habano's large, comfortable cigar lounge. It seats close to 20, with large leather chairs and couches throughout the room and four seats at the full bar. The lounge offers coffee, espresso and a variety of cocktails, completing the experience you'd expect to have in the top shop in Montreal.
Gallery: Casa del Habano, Montreal
Drink in one hand, cigar in the other and a comfortable seat beneath you, it's easy to fall in love with La Casa del Habano. But, it's the smaller touches that result in a cohesive cigar-smoking experience. Water is available without the assistance of the bartender, so you can quench your thirst without waiting, even when the lounge is packed. Strips of cedar sit on the tables, offering a pleasant alternative to lighting your cigar directly from the match. If you prefer a full, powerful flame, however, a torch is kept on hand.
The lounge décor is exactly what you'd expect to find in a cigar establishment. Coats of arms, cigar box representations and collages of oversized labels adorn the walls – in addition to a large tobacco field mural. The colors are subdued, however, to keep them from intruding on a serene experience. The colored windows provide a unique touch. Situated behind the bar, they deliver a splash of color to keep the mood vibrant.
When I settled into a couch on a recent trip to Montreal, the lounge was empty, but I was able to witness the arrival of several of the shop's regulars. The scene that unfolded is the same as what you find in your local tobacco shop. The customers know each other and appear to have little connection outside the environment. They talk about business, joke with each other and enjoy the shared experience. The size of the lounge means that you aren't forced into their routine, though you could easily join it, if you choose.
It's easy to lose yourself in La Casa del Habano: it's designed for serene pleasure. Sit down, and light up. Sip a port or an espresso. For cigar smokers, it's a home away from home ... only with Vegas Robainas and Bolivars.