On the kind invitation of Mr Lim, the Manager of the Havana Club, Concorde Hotel, KL, i made my way to this renowned divan last night. Got caught in traffic, was forced to detour once due to a road closure – but eventually i made it at 8.30pm and instantly realized that even all the trouble in getting there was worth the effort.
As far as good divans go, its hard to imagine a better one in Malaysia. Its concept and design is obviously the result of many painstaking hours of planning, its retail humidor is well stocked with the marquee Cubans and Dominicans, affordable accessories galore, and well trained staff the envy of any retailer.
The Havana Club
Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur
No. 2 Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Upon first arriving, i discovered that parking my car would be a bit of a pain. The nearest parking lot was the Concorde Hotel lot, and that seems perpetually full. Had to park near the top of the multi-tiered parking lot – a long walk down and up awaited me. Mental note to self: consider taking a cab next time.
The Havana Club is divided into two floors – the ground floor plays upbeat latin american music, is generally a bit louder and busy. The upper floor is quieter, has luxurious sofas to lounge in, has a big screen TV showing ASTRO sports channels, and two very quiet, very exclusive private rooms available only to special guests.
The division of the divan into two floors makes tremendous sense – those who want a quiet place to enjoy their cigar and a chat with friends can opt to use the floor upstairs. Those who are looking for some good music, a bit of “action” and a great “view” of the ladies and men who patronize the neighbouring Hard Rock Cafe can opt to stay downstairs.
What makes the Havana Club special has to be its humidor – its well stocked with Cubans and Dominicans, a few Nicaraguans and i’m sure you can find one or two others if you dig around a bit. Its an expansive walk-in humidor with wall-to-wall cigars. All displayed in a brightly lit, well-humidified environment. A feast for the eyes, i promise you. Of particularly noteworthy mention is a small corner of the humidor reserved for “rare” or “special” cigars. You will find some of the rarest cigars available for the Malaysian retail market here, including limited edition Cohibas, special anniversary Partagas’ and a quite rare Davidoff edition.
The Havana Club’s staff are led by the experienced Mr Lim. They are extremely top notch: knowledgeable, well-trained, cigar smokers themselves, and friendly to boot. I was at the divan for about 90 minutes – besides Mr Lim, 3 other members of his staff took the time to stop by and talk to me. It was fun, friendly and very welcome. My thanks to Mr Lim, Syikin, Fifi and Mas for the company last night.
I believe its the small touches that make a place special; luxury is in the details and the Havana Club has one that i must do justice to by pointing out. In other cigar divans i’ve visited, the air circulation system disperses the smoke very quickly and efficiently. While this may please non-smoking customers, it takes some enjoyment out of the indulgence – a connaisseur wants to be able to see the smoke billow above him, surrounding him in its luxury before dissipating. The Havana Club preserves this oft-overlooked portion of the cigar experience quite well.
I didn’t get a chance to sample any of the food but apparently its the only place in the hotel that sources food from 3 places: Hard Rock Cafe, the hotel Japanese restaurant and the hotel Coffee House. Ever wanted to have gourmet sushi while smoking that Cohiba? This is the place to do it.
Verdict: A MUST VISIT! Anyone serious about cigars in Malaysia should visit the Havana Club at least once – i know that i’ll probably benchmark all other divans i visit in the future against this one. Excellently well designed, well run and well stocked with some superb cigars. Come once, and then, come back often.