Amsterdam’s cigar lounges. Now Amsterdam is a city known for smoking. But their reputation is not for smoking cigars. Many tourists are coming to Amsterdam to smoke weed at one of the many weed shops. Yet Amsterdam has a big cigar tradition as well. In the early days, hundreds of small cigar manufacturers rolled cigars in kitchens, attics, and basements in the Dutch capital. But because of tax regulations, where densely populated areas paid higher tax, the second world war, the invention of cigar rolling machines and rising wages killed the industry. There are still a few companies that produce cigars in The Netherlands, but none of them do that from Amsterdam.
Amsterdam does have a few cigar lounges though. There used to be six, but the number went down to four in the last few years. Marjolein Hartman, co-owner of the La Casa del Habano Amsterdam, closed the lounge in her shop at the Beethovenstraat. She needed the space for storage and as a shipping department for her online cigar sales. Davidoff closed the flagship store in the Museum quarter. Officially to free their hands to service their retail customers better, but the truth is that the shop was underperforming.
Since Amsterdam is a city with narrow canals, few parking options, and high parking prices, let’s go on a virtual walk. We start at Amsterdam central station. From there we go straight to the Damrak, over Dam Square with the Royal Palace on the right and the war monument on the left. We continue to go straight and about 15 minutes walking from the station we come across the first cigar lounge, P.G.C. Hajenius.
P.G.C. Hajenius is one of the oldest cigar shops in the world. It all started in 1826 when Pantaleon Gerhard Coenraad Hajenius moved to Amsterdam. At the young age of 19, he opened his cigar shop. Soon he created his cigar brand as well, which is still on the market today. In 1914, the shop located in the beautiful Art Deco style building where it’s still located today. The building is an official monument and hasn’t changed much since the doors opened. It feels like walking into a museum. Nowadays, the brand and the shop are owned by the Scandinavian Tobacco Group. And that makes them the foreign cousin of Cigars International.
The shop has an impressive walk-in humidor. And if you are lucky, you can blend your own pipe tobacco or see Iris Perzik demonstrate the art of cigar rolling. The shop has two lounges, the small ‘heerenkamer’ which is only available by booking and the bigger cigar lounge. The lounge has space for approximately 20 cigar smokers, but there is also a small balcony with a few seats if the ground floor is fully occupied. The lounge has a calm, serene feel. Free wifi is available, so you can update your social media while smoking one of the Cuban or New World cigars from their humidor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fan of the shop and visited several times.
1012 KZ Amsterdam
+ 31 (0)20 6237494
Monday: 12 pm – 6 pm
Tuesday – Saturday: 9:30 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm
When you leave Hajenius, you turn right and right again at the first street. Pass Spui square and follow the Singel canal to the Leidsestraat. In the Leidsestraat, you will find a small tobacconist, Hartman Cigars. That’s an old shop, owned by Marjolein Hartman who also owns a bigger shop at the Beethovenstraat and co-owns the La Casa del Habano where we are heading. At Leidseplein, where the famous Bulldog weed shop is located, we take a left passed the Apple store. Now, don’t think you can light up a cigar in one of the weed shops. Smoking tobacco is illegal in those places, you will be asked to leave. And take a right on Max Euweplein. Cross the street and take a walk through the Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s central green lung. Exit at the first possible option and walk towards the Conservatorium Hotel. In the hotel, on the first floor, you will find the La Casa del Habano Amsterdam. And across the street, you’ll see your next destination: Cigaragua.
La Casa del Habano Amsterdam
The LCDH Amsterdam opened its doors in 2012. In the same Conservatorium hotel, but on a different unit. But when another tenant didn’t renew the lease, owners Hartman & Festen jumped to the opportunity to lease the bigger, two-story space so they could expand. The first thing you’ll spot when you walk in is the piano. The piano is converted into a humidor with all vitolas of the Montecristo brand that were available when the humidor was created. The walls on both sides of the shop are racks filled with Cuban cigars. But the LCDH Amsterdam also sells a selection of accessories.
When you walk down the stairs, you’ll find storage on one side where cigars are aged under perfect conditions. And on the other side, there’s the lounge. The lounge offers seats for at least 10 to12 cigar smokers. They can choose the sit at the large table, or in one of the relaxed armchairs. There is one downside though, you have to be a member to be able to use the lounge. And membership isn’t cheap. The La Casa del Habano doesn’t offer any day memberships.
La Casa del Habano Amsterdam
Van Baerlestraat 27
1071 AN Amsterdam
+ 31 (0)20 7530781
Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 6 pm
Now Cigaragua is something else. It’s the flagship for any cigar Nicaragua. It’s the first cigar shop in the world that sells nothing but Nicaraguan made cigars. And there’s a book with the same name, highlighting Esteli as the cigar capital of the world. The shop opened in late 2016 and has become an iconic name in a very short time. Five stars on TripAdvisor, articles in Cigar Journal and Cigar Aficionado. And already a tourist destination for cigar smokers from all over the world. Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, a company that is very selective with who they make shop exclusive cigars for, found Cigaragua worthy of a limited edition. And for their first-ever international event.
The lounge is huge, contemporary and modern. Warm colors, light but vibrant. With fantastic pictures of Esteli, Nicaragua on the wall. And a copy of the mural on the Drew Estate factory behind the cash register. It’s warm and welcoming and there’s room for 40 brothers and sisters of the leaf to sit comfortably and enjoy the atmosphere. The humidor is almost as big. The selection of cigars goes up to 1400 different SKU’s, all hailing from Nicaragua. And with the best opening hours of all the lounges, you’ll probably end up in Cigaragua anyway when you’re taking a trip to Amsterdam.
Van Baerlestraat 56H
1071 BA Amsterdam
+ 31 (0)20 7735302
Monday – Sunday: 10 am – 9 PM
Getting to our final destination in Amsterdam is a bit of a walk, close to an hour. So we suggest taking a tram. Tram 5 has a stop in front of Cigaragua and takes you close to Huize van Lookeren. Van Lookeren is located in a luxurious shopping mall in the Buitenveldert area. Van Lookeren was founded in 1902 and at a certain moment there were 9 shops in and around Amsterdam. Then the family sold all the shops, now there are two remaining. One in Amstelveen, and Huize van Lookeren in Amsterdam. The shops are not connected anymore and haven’t been for the longest time. Recently the shop was sold again.
Huize van Lookeren
When you walk into the shop, you won’t expect a lounge. There’s a nice walk-in humidor. A good size for a Dutch shop, where still most of the cigars sold are dry-cured short fillers that don’t need humidification. But when you walk down the narrow spiral staircase (watch your head!!) you’ll enter a different world. First, you see two Cuban style murals, one with mass murderer Che Guevara. But the real wow factor happens when you open the plain white door. It takes you to another world. It’s like entering a speakeasy bar during the prohibition.
Once you open the door, you see a cozy, warm lounge. It’s very homey, with seating arrangements for approximately 16 people. A long table where you can read a newspaper, work on your laptop or play a board game. A comfortable corner with four leather armchairs. Art on one wall, and pictures of the regular patrons on another wall. And to finish the homey feeling, there’s even a fireplace. This place is a hidden gem for any brother and sister of the leaf. And secure, as the basement was originally a bomb shelter.
Huize van Lookeren
1082 LV Amsterdam
+ 31 (0)20 6441062
Monday: 10 am – 7 pm
Tuesday – Friday: 9 am – 7 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 6 pm
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm