When I picture my father in my minds eye he’s puffing on a Romeo y Julietta, sitting on his porch, reading a sci-fi book, and looking out at Pikes Peak into the night. Picturesque, I know but, it’s pretty much what he’s done every night since I can remember. While many women dislike the smell of cigars, I smile when I get a whiff, because it reminds me of the man who tucked me in and kissed me goodnight. When I smell a cigar I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have such an amazing father.
The thing about Cigars in the US is that there is not a wide variety of cigar shops. Especially not in Colorado Springs, where mom and dad live. By my estimate there’s approximately 1 cigar shop every 2 miles in the city of London, and Cuban’s are always available.
For those who are confused by this statement, particularly international readers, here’s why this is significant: In the US we had a trade embargo with Cuba that started in 1962 with the Kennedy Administration. It was recently altered by the Obama administration in 2016, but Cuban Cigars are still hard to come by and are expensive. So I knew when we went to England we would have to do a tour of Cigar shops so dad could buy all the Cuban cigars his heart desired!
(Photo credit for below Annaliza Jennings)
Here’s the shops ranked in order of least to greatest.
(Photo from Davidoff site I didn’t take pictures while there)
Essentially Davidoff was a let down. Which was shocking because it had fabulous reviews online! Only providing Davidoff brand cigars and having a bar themed atmosphere we we’re unimpressed. We stepped inside and the staff didn’t even look up from what they were doing to acknowledge our presence. Unless you’re a huge Davidoff fan I vote skip this one. Dad was like ” eh, let’s go to the next place.” And thus we did.
Sautters is everything that is good about old England. Located in Mayfair it sits unassumingly amidst stores were the least expensive items available run in the thousands (GBP). Very swanky neighborhood. If you didn’t know better you’d think that they would be snobs. You’d be totally wrong. We were all welcomed in, the shop is barely bigger than my bedroom, maybe 300 square feet. Absolutely packed to the gills with beautiful cigars and accessories. Think of the wand shop in Harry Potter then replace all the wand boxes with cigar boxes. The shop employees were amazing, they were sure to acknowledge all of us, my dad, myself and my friend Corrine who was showing us around London for the day. (Though it was very obvious Corrine and I were not looking for a cigar.) Just exemplary customer service. The owner actually stopped in while we were there and introduced himself to all of us. A very kind man. It was really a lovely London experience and I would absolutely recommend any and all cigar enthusiasts to stop in there if you’re in London. They actually offer classes a few times a month to learn more about cigars, similar to a wine tasting. We were unable to attend one because we were not in London on the day of the class but I think it would truly be a fun experience. Would make for a great start to a Stag Night or birthday party for the cigar enthusiast in your life. If anyone reading this takes my advice and does the class please let me know! I’d love to hear about it!
#1 JJ Fox
The king of cigar shops in the UK is undoubtedly JJ Fox. We actually went to THREE of their locations while in London, visiting the main location twice. This was far and above Dads favorite, and mine as well because of how happy it made him. The first location we actually went to was in Harrods Department Store, which is an experience in and of itself. We were served by Ali Dad was SO impressed with his knowledge and customer service. He, like the staff member at Sautter’s was sure to welcome and acknowledge me as well as dad even though I was just there for the ride. What we were most impressed by at JJ Fox was the knowledge and expertise of the staff. Ali took time to ask dad about what he usually smoked, what his favorite flavors were, what he looked for in a cigar and if he had anything specific in mind. He also made recommendations on other brands my dad had never tried, and my dad ended up loving all of them! Then when he boxed up dad’s cigar’s he carefully chose each one out of the box testing it with his fingers making sure it was the right consistency and moisture level for the cigar. He even cut the cigars for him, asking what type of cut dad liked and provided him with a box of matches. It was really some of the most top notch service I’ve ever witnessed. What was even more amazing was the level of service was consistent at the other locations, Selfridges and St. James Street. George helped us at St. James Street both times we visited. The neat thing about the St. James Street location is it’s one of the few buildings in London where they have an indoor smoking area. There’s actually a Cigar lounge upstairs and a Cigar MUSEUM downstairs. It’s great fun.
All in all the best part was experiencing these shops with my father. I have fond memories of toddling along with him while he went to Telford’s to pick up cigars when I was little. Watching him talk with other enthusiasts at the shop or chat up the other regulars. There is something heartwarming about traveling with someone you love and getting to experience things they love while on an adventure together.
Are you a cigar enthusiast? Have you ever been cigar shopping in London? Do you have a person who is special to you that loves cigars? Drop a comment below and tell me about it!