Overlooking London’s Hyde Park sits a boutique hotel called The Wellesley, just a short jaunt from Buckingham Palace. In addition to housing The Oval Restaurant and Crystal Bar—which stocks a £4000-a-shot, French revolution-era Cognac—the hotel has a posh cigar lounge, where Giuseppe Ruo works as a cigar sommelier.
Holding over two million dollars-worth of cigars, the lounge offers the largest collection of cigars sold on a stick-by-stick basis in the world. Ruo, an award-winning cigar sommelier, helps match clients with their dream cigars. As you might have guessed, the type of people who frequent cigar lounges are often looking for the rarest, priciest cigars they can get their mouths on. The most expensive cigar at The Wellesley costs £11,000, though this is the only one not for sale (“we keep it for prestige.”) Of course, patrons can still ball out, perhaps on cigars in the more modest £5,000 range.
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“It’s all about rarity, because tobacco is still tobacco,” he says. “You cannot make tobacco leaves in gold or diamond. The £5,000 cigar has a story, and that’s what gives it value. It was made by Fidel Castro’s personal roller.”