Tag Archive | "Cigars"

Smokes & Tipples at Hotel Xenia

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Smokes & Tipples at Hotel Xenia

Posted on 05 December 2014 by Chris Ford

The introduction of the smoking ban back in July 2007 pretty much snuffed out the London cigar scene overnight.  But then the cigar world fought back. The last few years has seen more and more covered cigar terraces opening on a seemingly monthly basis, with many so expertly crafted that it’s hard to believe that you’re actually outside.

So when I heard that the latest cigar terrace opening was holding its first cigar night, I felt it would be rude not to attend and check out the facilities.

Hotel Xenia

The Hotel Xenia, a short walk from both Earls Court and Gloucester Road tube stations, certainly looks the part. It’s slick and modern, thanks to a recent multi-million pound refurbishment.

I arrived early for the cigar evening, so wandered into the bar for a drink while I was waiting.

First impressions?  The barman knew his stuff. I mentioned I would be smoking a short cigar before the main event started and he instantly suggested rums and whiskies would complement my cigar of choice. Honestly this is very rare in my experience so I was already very impressed with the Xenia.

Cigar Humidor

Smokes & Tipples 

So onto the actual event. An hour or so later the Hotel Xenia’s first cigar event began. Everyone made their way to the beautiful outside smoking terrace where the representative from Hunters and Frankau (the UK’s only Habano importer) was waiting to greet us.

Some of the Gentlemen enjoying the event

Some of the Gentlemen enjoying the event

Our cigar that had been chosen for the evening was a Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill which would be paired with a flight of specially selected rums from Plantation Rum.

a selection of Plantation rum was sampled

a selection of Plantation rum was sampled

I think the evening worked well as it wasn’t too formal like some can be, and with the rep from Hunters and Frankau helping the first time smokers like my girlfriend, cut and light their cigar. As we enjoyed our smoke, the rep gave us the odd nugget of information about Cigars and Cuba in general but we weren’t smothered, instead we were left to chat freely which resulted in a relaxed evening.

When it came to the rums, the representative from the hotel was on hand to talk us through each choice, and the flavours we might expect when trying them. Being a bit of a rum novice this part of the evening I found particularly interesting and informative. In fact, I have since bought my first bottle of Plantation Rum and urge you to try the brand yourselves.

The Xenia plans to hold regular ‘Smokes and Tipples’ evenings.

Dinner at Evoluzione

After the smoking session we were booked in Evoluzione, Xenia’s restaurant for dinner. Like the rest of the hotel, the conservatory style room was bright and classy. Once we’d made our orders, me and my girlfriend were both charmed when the attentive waiter brought us out a ‘welcome’ from Michelin Star awarded Italian chef Andrea Angeletti – a delicious carbonara sauce served in the shell of an egg. Soon after, our orders arrived.

 a delicious carbonara sauce served in the shell of an egg.

a delicious carbonara sauce served in the shell of an egg.

My girlfriend said her starter of roasted octopus with aubergine and potato was delicious and perfectly cooked. I opted for the nicely textured and beautifully presented beef tartare. Afterwards came the main event was just that, an event. I’d ordered the grilled lobster served with a potato filled with thyme prawns. It arrived propped up and dressed in a metal frame making it a feast for the eyes before I’d even taken a mouthful.

Beef Tartare

Beef Tartare

The Lobster was beautifully presented

The Lobster was beautifully presented

My girlfriend chose a simpler pasta dish, served in a Romano cheese sauce with tuna carpaccio but even then it was delivered with flair and was the sort of quality you’d expect from such a high class Italian restaurant. We both had the chocolate fondant for dessert and like the rest of the meal it was spot on.  After we’d eaten, the waiter was happy to let us linger and enjoy the rest of our bottle of Merlot. The perfect chilled out ending to a perfect chilled out night.


Cherry Coke Cocktail

Cherry Coke Cocktail

Before we left I spied on the bars cocktail menu a’Cherry Coke’ I just had to have one, and Ive been craving another ever since,  amazing!


The Hotel 

With regards to the hotel itself I was so impressed by the staff, they were both friendly and knowledgeable.  No request was too much trouble and they went out of their way to make our time there memorable. While I have no real need to stay in a hotel in London myself I will certainly recommend the Xenia to friends in the future, with its good transport links, friendly welcome and excellent restaurant it really is the ideal choice for a hotel just outside the centre.

one of the Xenias many rooms

one of the Xenias many rooms

The Next Smokes and Tipples event at the Hotel Xenia will be held on Thursday 30th April to book email sales@hotelxenia.co.uk

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Say  no to “plain” packaging for Cigars

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Say no to “plain” packaging for Cigars

Posted on 20 June 2012 by Chris Ford

Join the campaign saying no to “plain” packaging for cigars and pipe tobacco.

we urge you to respond to the Government’s Consultation
on plain packaging for cigars and pipe tobaccos in the UK. Consultation ends 10th July!

Fill in the online form and say NO TO PLAIN PACKAGING!




Sign the petition here

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The Heart and Soul of Cuba

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The Heart and Soul of Cuba

Posted on 02 January 2012 by Chris Ford

The Heart and Soul of Cuba is a film by a man well known in the cigar world for his love of cigars especially Cuban cigars having previously written for Cigar Aficionado as their Cuban Cigar correspondent James Suckling has now branched out on his own and one of his first projects is this film on the Cuban cigar industry.

This is a beautifully shot film, focusing mainly on the stages of making the cigar from the fields where the tobacco is grown to the factories where they are love-lingly made, every step is shown in fantastic detail from start to finish.


This dvd would make a fantastic gift for any cigar lover, it really makes you appreciate what a special thing the hand made cigar is and work involved in making the finished article.

While the film is perfect on its own , if I could add anything I would have loved to see a few more interviews with the major players in the industry not just in Cuba but some of the vendors and experts from around the world have some amazing stories to tell and would have made a more rounded product in my eyes but to be fair the dvd gives you a great overview of how the Cuban cigar is made.

you can download or buy the dvd from www.heartandsoulofcuba.com

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Custom Cigar Humidors

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Custom Cigar Humidors

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Chris Ford

Recently I was contacted by Richard at Custom Humidors, he kindly offered to send me one of his fantastic  bespoke humidors to review and here’s what I received


The humidors are made out of perspex which forms an airtight seal perfect for cigar storage, Richard can make the humidors exact to your specifications  with pretty much any logo or text you like. On my humidor  he has put the website logo as well as some cigar brand logos around the side but the possibilities are endless, be it your favourite football teams logo, country flags, regiment crests you name it Richard can most likely accommodate your requirements.


This humidor was made to promote a new cigar brand, as you can see the customisation options are numerous

The transparent humidors look fantastic full, showing off your cigar collection but can also be made in different colours like this Cuban Flag humidor



As well as humidors Custom Humidors also create cigar dividers to seperate your cigars as well as humidity bead boxes which like the humidors are fully customisable as the examples below

I’m really happy with my humidor and am already planning to place a order for some bead boxes and dividers to go with it.   The bespoke humidors are priced from £45 depending on the size and design, for more information please contact Richard at Custom Humidors  at customhumis@googlemail.com

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The World’s Most Expensive Cigar


The World’s Most Expensive Cigar

Posted on 30 April 2010 by Chris Ford

The Cohiba Behike cigar is one of the world’s most expensive cigars named  after the tribal chief of the Taino Indians.
Developed with a secret blend of the best Cuban tobacco from the Pinar del Rio, Vuelto Abajo.

There were only 4000 Cohiba Behikes for sale at 375 Euro (525 USD) each of the original run, with reports of one upscale London establishment charging £1500 a smoke!

 The ‘Behike brand’ cigars are now however to be released as a regular line although one suspects the blend will be somewhat different from the original run of only 4000.

Showcased in February at this year’s Habanos Festival in Havana, the three new Cohiba Behike sizes have been eagerly awaited ever since by cigar enthusiasts around the world. The Cuban cigar industry has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that this new line is special in every way. Not only are all the three sizes entirely new, but there is also a special classification of leaf within the blend of the filler, known as Medio Tiempo, which gives the new line a unique, distinctive taste. The natural scarcity of Medio Tiempo leaves dictates that annual production of these cigars will be restricted. The Behike BHKs are set to become Cohiba’s most exclusive line and to represent the highest grade of cigar in production in Cuba today.

The excellent cgars Ltd have released prices for the range and I eagerly anticipate getting my hands on these legendary smokes!


Cohiba Behike BHK52 singles £28
Cohiba Behike BHK52 box of 10 £269

Cohiba Behike BHK54 singles £36

Cohiba Behike BHK54 box of 10 £355

Cohiba Behike BHK56 singles £42

Cohiba Behike BHK56 box of 10 £399

Cohiba Behike BHKSampler – £103

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S.T Dupont X-Tend Cigar Lighter


S.T Dupont X-Tend Cigar Lighter

Posted on 12 March 2010 by Chris Ford

The Dupont X-Tend S.T.Dupont X.tend MaxiJet lighter has long been a standard of luxury in the cigar smoking community.  If you’re not aware of the price already, the maxi Jet (the full size X-tend) can be purchased for around £97. Now, before you completely dismiss this lighter, hear me out.

When I first read the hype on the X-Tend I was very keen, talk of laser guided flames excites the boy within, but when I saw the lighter in person I was tad disappointed, I don’t know what I was expecting this laser guided flame to look like but well, it didn’t, so I walked away.

Two weeks later, I was on my way to a cigar evening in Chelsea and my cheapo torch lighter packed up; mild panic ensued, these events tend to just provide matches and I’m not really a match kind of guy, I prefer to toast my cigars with a torch flame for that even, consistent burn I have come to love.  So what did I do? I jumped off the tube at Green Park and popped into JJ Fox to look for a lighter. I didn’t have much time and didn’t have a clue about any of the lighters on display except the X-Tend, so I reluctantly took a punt and bought one.

Well readers, I have never looked back.  This lighter totally lives up to the hype; a strong, straight flame that the wind doesn’t seem to bother, an elegant looking solid construction and it comes with the added bonus of making fellow cigar (and cigarette!) smokers dead jealous whenever you pull it from your pocket!

The S.T.Dupont X.tend MaxiJet can be purchased from Amazon and other good retailers.


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Cigar Tasting Event

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Cigar Tasting Event

Posted on 18 February 2010 by Chris Ford

I recently attended the first of this year’s Cigar evenings hosted by the UK Cuban Cigar supplier Hunters and Frankau.  It was held on the wonderful new heated smoking terrace at 10 Manchester street in London’s Marylebone.

First of all the hotel is stunning, very high end, the sort of place I would love to stay but seldom do when on holiday, often opting for the cheaper option with the logic that I’m only looking for somewhere to sleep… a nice hotel is fun sometimes though!

Anyway the cigar terrace has been expertly put together, it seems like you are indoors with gas heaters blasting out warm air so there is no danger of getting cold, comfy leather sofas to sink into and everything you could possibly need to get your cigar going. The service while we were there was excellent, coats were taken, and drinks were poured. All those present seemed to agree this is the best place in London to smoke a cigar!

The night usually cost £25.00 which includes a limited edition cigar, refreshments and a talk from cigar expert Simon Chase and are held on a monthly basis with different cigars and drinks every month.

The Cigar Terrence is open everyday from 11.00am to 11.00pm and free to use, you can find out much more by visiting the Ten Manchester Street Hotel website


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