Hotel du Vin smokin’ consistency

I had a great cigar-smoking at the Bothy at the Hotel du Vin in smoke-phobic Glasgow. Well, the Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, England, I was pleased to learn, offers the same environment! Behind the hotel is a small, covered, and heated outdoor smoking lounge where guests are invited to light up and relax. Its name, the “Cigar Shack,” is only half accurate – fortunately, it’s the first half.

The Hotel du Vin (and Mal Maison) properties in Great Britain pride themselves on offering a unique guest experience rather than the homogeneity of the major chains. This is particularly true at the Cambridge hotel, where room numbers are eschewed in favor of names (I spent the evening in the Taylor’s Port room, which is appropriate, given how much I enjoy the drink).

At reception, I was told about the outdoor smoking space and proceeded to it immediately after dropping my bags in Taylor’s Port. Though it’s not a carbon copy of the Glasgow Bothy, the Cigar Shack’s similarities are striking. The covered space is of roughly the same design, though it is a bit smaller. Also, like its Scottish cousin, the smoking lounge offers a fireplace and ample seating. Cuban cigars are available for purchase (in case you forgot to bring your own stash).


Outside the Cigar Shack, there is a large patio with four tables that seat four people – and a bench that handles two comfortably. The lucky rooms are Graham Beck, Concha y Toro and tk-Zapata, which open directly into the this outdoor space. Sure, you have to sacrifice a bit of privacy, but I’m a sucker for access to outside, probably because I live in a city that charges a premium for it. It can’t be too bad, as I smoked several cigars in a row (during which I saw people enter these rooms), and nobody complained.

If you’re a smoker, this is the best alternative to being able to light up in your room. In fact, I find it preferable. It’s a great environment, with covered, climate controlled areas, an dprovides a bit of a social scene.

As always, non-smokers are welcome, too!

Disclosure: Visit Britain paid for this trip, and British Airways picked up the flights. There are many other reasons to stay at this hotel, but I’m sure the other writers on the press trip will cover them. I’m unashamedly a cigar guy.

Light up in Glasgow’s Bothy

You’ll never find the “Bothy” on your own. Tucked away in the Hotel du Vin’s courtyard, this hidden gem is Glasgow‘s only sheltered smoke spot. So, while the rest of Scotland endures wind and rain with each precious puff, you can stay dry and enjoy every draw. Oppressive may render smoking a chore, but the Bothy brings the pleasure back.

Scotland‘s smoking laws make those in the United States seem downright accommodating. On our side of the Atlantic, most tobacconists find space for at least a few chairs, or accept that customers will stand around the shop for a bit while partaking of their recent purchases. Even this luxury, though, is not afforded by the regulations that bear down on Glasgow. Cigar shops remain points of sale only, deprived of the chance to incubate friendships and cultivate a tightly-knit smoking culture.

The Hotel du Vin, fortunately, has found a way to bypass the indoor smoking ban: strip away the walls.

One of several upscale boutiques in Glasgow, the Hotel du Vin, distinguishes itself by having eschewed a cookie-cutter design in favor of truly unique guestrooms. For lovers of the leaf, however, the essential attraction is through the lobby and beyond a white-trimmed glass door. The rest of the journey to the Bothy requires no more than 25 paces (if you stand 5’10”), ending in a covered, heated outdoor smoking lounge that is open 24 hours a day.

The Bothy is an indoor/outdoor hybrid, with natural and copious ventilation that does not come at the expense of protection from scorching sunlight or driving rain. Most of the structure lacks walls, though the sloping roof compensates for about half of what is missing, and heating along the shelter’s perimeter combats Glasgow’s often merciless elements. The gas-powered fireplace is typically ablaze throughout the day and evening, and if it is not, the staff has made clear that they are more than happy to ignite it-quickly.
To the Hotel du Vin’s credit, the Bothy is not treated as a leper colony. The staff directs you to this nearby retreat without judgment or sneers … and with coffee (or tea). Several beverages are available for outdoor consumption while you smoke, and an amply-stocked humidor can fill any gaps in what you have brought with you for the trip. If you are equipped with your own cigars, the Hotel du Vin does not charge a cutting fee in the Bothy. As I write, a Toro-sized De La Concha Grand Reserve, brought with me from New York, rests between my fingers, though I may switch to a stick of the Cuban variety when the ember comes closer to my knuckles.

Whether you’re staying on the premises or need to grab a taxi from deep inside the city, the Bothy is worth the time it takes to smoke a double corona. Clip it, light it and relax in a soft leather chair. Sip one of the few good cups of coffee in Scotland. And, enjoy la dolce vita.