There are generally three types of place in KL from which you can buy cigars from: hotels (most of the finest hotels in KL will have a cabinet humidor with some Cubans in stock), specialist shops like Little Havana and Davidoff in KLCC and cigar divans of which i’ve found two, Little Havana and Hemingway’s in Changkat Bukit Bintang. Cigar divans allow the customer to smoke their cigars on the premises and also provide meals, drinks and entertainment. Last night i spent 3 hours at Hemingway’s, and, boy, time certainly flew.

Full address:

No. 33 Changkat Bukit Bintang
55200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2145 2268 (Call for reservations on the weekend; its normally full)

Go to http://www.deutscheshaus.com.my/ for a map to Changkat Bukit Bintang – basically, its a few hundred meters behind Hotel Istana, KL.

Hemingway’s is divided into two floors – the ground floor is dominated by the bar; it looks pretty well stocked at cursory inspection. A narrow corridor is sandwiched by the bar and a row of high tables – the corridor ends in a staircase that leads to some real cigar luxury upstairs.

There’s a wine room upstairs, at the landing directly after the stairs – didn’t take a close look, but its stocked floor to ceiling with bottles of wine. The rest of floor space is occupied by two things: coffee tables with deep leather backed chairs, and a quite intriguing walk-in humidor.

The humidor is the highlight of Hemingway’s, in my opinion. Its bathed in rustic lights, thus accentuating the brown coloured boxes of cigars stacked and open from floor to ceiling against the wall. This place is well stocked with most of the majors, of Cuban and Dominican varieties: Partagas, Romeo y Julietas, Cohibas, Montecristos, H Upmans, Punch and even the hard to find, yet totally delightful, San Cristobals. Price wise, the cigars are a bit pricier than what can currently be found in Little Havana, KLCC – but that’s probably only because Little Havana is on a 20% discount sale which will last through August. For example, a single Romeo y Julieta No. 2 (aluminium cased) is being sold at Hemingway’s for RM38 while at Little Havana KLCC they can be bought for RM30.

What i particularly enjoyed about the experience of browsing for cigars was the presence of the ever helpful Sueze – she’s a real gem of a salesperson. If i could afford it, i would have bought the shop based on her thoughtfulness and insight. She works for Trinidad Holdings, a local importer and distributor of Cubans and Dominicans, and they manage the cigar retail side of things at Hemingway’s, while another company, Sovage Sdn Bhd takes care of the bar/restaurant business. She’s well trained, experienced, friendly and approachable – if you have any questions about the cigars on sale, or about enjoying the cigar experience in general, all you need do is ask her. I did, and she was tremendously forthcoming (unlike the person in charge of another place i visited, but that’s for another review). If you meet her, tell her Aizuddin said “Hi”.

The ambience of Hemingway’s is excellent – what sounds like upbeat latino music is piped through a good sound system, the lighting is suitably mellow, the walls are tastefully decorated with pics of Che Guevera, Castro and even one of Dr Mahathir standing next to good ol’ Fidel. But what truly makes this place a haven for cigar enthusiasts is, i reckon, the air circulation in the building – through an intelligent combination of well placed air conditioners and barely noticeable vents, cigar smoke was quickly and efficiently ventilated out. This kept the air fresh and clean and, more importantly, ensured that guests didn’t have to smell the cigar smoke from neighbouring tables. The importance of this can’t be emphasized more: there you are enjoying your mild RyJ, you certainly don’t want to be overwhelmed by your neighbour’s full bodied Cohiba.

Food wise, Hemingway’s serves a fair selection of tapas and other assorted goodies. Didn’t have a chance to try anything last night, but when i do, i’ll be sure to come back and update this review. Did have a cup of coffee though – not bad, but not really as good as the Starbucks that i’ve come to be used to. Still, for RM5 a cup, the coffee wasn’t too expensive.

Any grievances? Just one: the music got too loud at times. That made normal conversation difficult, and any attempt to concentrate on a book i brought to enjoy with my cigar, a Montecristo Petit Tubos, was futile.

Summary:

Ambience: EXCELLENT. Top class cigar divan – but music got too loud at times.

Cigars: Good variety of Cubans and Dominicans. They even had a quite cool brand from Borneo! Buatan Malaysia! Too bad they were as dry as the Sahara – would have loved to try a local cigar. Wonderful customer service from a charming woman named Sueze.

Food: Fair cup of coffee. Other foods, didn’t get a chance to try.

Verdict: You like smoking cigars in a stress-free, relaxed environment? You like to be pampered by some of the best cigars Kuala Lumpur has to offer? Hemingway’s is your place.