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Every detail—down to the deco ashtrays and Vector lighters—is thought through with the smoker in mind. "I don't think there is anything like London," Tramontana says.No one was sure the concept would work when it was launched a few years after the smoking ban, but this is the second version of the lounge, expanded to reflect its popularity. That's what they came up with, and it was very successful. They put in screening to baffle the noise, because this is a busy street. "You do have nice hotels in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Madrid, with a lot of people who smoke cigars, but London, [has its extensive] history and the legacy with cigars.It is coming from the humidor set in the hallway outside the Garden Room, the hotel's landmark cigar lounge.It is also one of the venues that sparked the vogue for outdoor smoking areas that has saved cigar smoking in London from oblivion.Switching from cigarette smoking to cigar smoking can be particularly harmful because you might inhale cigar smoke the way you inhaled cigarette smoke.The more cigars you smoke and the deeper you inhale, the greater the risks.The new law had an overnight impact on public smoking in general, but eight years hence the thriving tradition of cigar smoking in clubs, hotels, cigar shops and even fine restaurants has resurfaced through the ingenuity of a coterie of clever purveyors bent on keeping the custom alive.At first the ban seemed to deal a hammer blow to an established cigar mecca, where connoisseurs the world over could go to pick out a spectacular smoke and enjoy it with a fine rum or whisky.
For international shoppers, an hour or two with a good cigar capped a day of trawling London's better shops for the shirts, custom-made shoes, cuff links and other manly accouterments found nowhere else.
The Lanesborough Hyde Park Corner • London, SW1X 7TA 8 • The first thing you notice is the aroma.
Past the hotel lobby and down a flight of stairs, the smell of fine tobacco starts, faintly, to stimulate your senses.
It has been in the creation of sumptuous, heated hotel smoking gardens that London has made its greatest strides in recent world cigar history.
The Lanesborough, given high praise among the city's smoking cognoscenti for its ingenuity and vision, was the first to demonstrate that the smoking ban was a challenge that could be overcome.