Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Europe’s Largest Cigar Collection Is a Feast for the Senses. Here’s Why

The

Wellesley Knightsbridge

in London appears as any other boutique hotel in any other financial epicenter in the world. Bellmen in funny uniforms open doors, a comically small number of rooms (36, in this case) creates an intimate feel, and a vague but historically important-sounding decorating style like Art Deco elevates the experience after stepping inside (think: right angles and The Great Gatsby). It has a restaurant and a bar and a jazz lounge. In short, it sounds nice and unsurprising, a great business spot where you don’t plan on spending much time. But hidden within its unassuming exterior is a continent-leading cigar collection and Europe’s largest cigar humidor.

Related Guides

Valued at 1.5 million British pounds (approximately $2.1 million), the Wellesley Knightsbridge’s cigar stock is expansive in both number and quality. Even if you’re not especially fond of cigars, walking its rows is a wonder, the equivalent to driving past acres of rickhouses in bourbon country Kentucky, or exploring the underground wine caves in Napa. But if you’re passionate about cigars, the Wellesley Knightsbridge is a playground. Nurtured under the caring hand of Giuseppe Ruo, each stick is carefully selected and stored between 60% and 70% humidity to maintain and develop its individual characteristics for the perfect moment.

While everyone knows the stereotypical wine snob, Ruo is anything but with his enthusiasm for cigars, takings a hospitality-forward philosophy. Hotel guests are offered a crash course in fine tobacco, from selecting a shape, size, and price as well as how to evaluate quality and flavor well before the flame touches the tip. Once you’ve made your selection, you’re whisked into the indoor tasting room or one of two outdoor smoking terraces, where you’ll complete your instruction in the art of lighting and puffing through your first or 500th stick.

Italian by birth, Ruo came to cigars late in life, which may explain his near fanaticism. Referred to as a kind of sommelier within the industry, under his guidance the hotel is a library of Alexandria, educating those from near and far on the basics and finer points alike. Are Cubans worth the hype? Yes. Should you ash? No. He’s available onsite to offer recommendations for pairing your cigar with one of the hotel’s numerous vintage cognacs or a house cocktail. A “masterclass” package is also available, where he provides even further in-depth and one-on-one instruction.

Like any other specialty destination, you’ll find cigars in the Wellesley Knightsbridge that you won’t find anywhere else. Through Ruo, it has many limited editions, including some of the most rare in the world, making it a must-stop for that dream stick. You’ll also discover one of the most smoke-friendly facilities anywhere: strong filtration hums faintly as you sink into leather chairs curved around a crackling fire, and in its outdoor terraces, custom sculptural glass screens shield you from prying eyes as the city passes beyond and a fresh breeze rips your smoke rings apart. It’s an ambiance normally reserved for heads of state and initiates of secret societies.

While even Ruo would not argue against a pilgrimage to Cuba or the growing fields of Central America, his hotel should be considered an island within Europe. Upon its shores, some of the world’s best tobacco arrives, and he curates and teaches from its beachhead. After a few days, you’ll leave more knowledgeable and ready to explore cigars in the farthest corners of the world.

Topics
Jon Gugala
Features Writer
Jon Gugala is a freelance writer and photographer based in Nashville, Tenn. A former gear editor for Outside Magazine, his…
Despite air travel woes, people have been pretty happy with airports, study finds: Here’s why
Even baggage claim results are up
The back of a passenger on a moving sidewalk in an airport

When I know there's a future trip involving an airport terminal, my first thoughts are usually about long security lines, an exhausting wait at baggage claim, and the chance that there may be an unruly passenger or two on my flight. In short, it's not an experience I generally look forward to — at least not as much as the destination itself. However, a new study reveals that travelers today are actually quite happy with their airport experiences overall. 

Yes, in a surprising turn of events, it seems that North American airports have defied the odds, managing to elevate overall passenger satisfaction despite facing a slew of issues. The J.D. Power 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study reveals an increase in satisfaction, showcasing the resilience of airport management in the face of record-high passenger volumes, pilot shortages, and unpredictable weather disruptions.

Read more
2028 might be a really good time to visit Japan – here’s why
Japan hasn't seen this in 120 years
People walking through a bamboo forest in Japan.

When planning a trip to Japan, people go for the advanced technology, shopping, history, and natural beauty. While cherry blossoms get big credit as a reason to visit, there's another plant that might throw a curve ball at your travel plans. Here's why you should hold off on a visit to see The Land of Rising Sun until at least 2028 — all because some finicky bamboo is about to have its moment.

The bamboo causing a scene
The spotlight is on hyllostachys nigra var. henonis, also known as henon bamboo. Normally, catching a star we haven't been able to see or a species coming back in over 100 years makes us all happy and hopeful. But scientists are wary of this bamboo and its regenerating process because of what happened in 2020.
There has been little chance to study this bamboo
This plant likes to take its time and has a cycle of around 120 years from start to finish, and the next flowering is almost here. Since there is such a huge gap of time in between when this bamboo flowers, dies, regrows, and then starts over, there hasn't been all that much research done on it. The last time it flowered was between 1903 and 1912, with the majority happening in 1908.

Read more
Your travel bag probably doesn’t have an Apple AirTag, but it needs one — here’s why
AirTags are tiny, and make losing baggage almost impossible
Apple AirTags in carrying cases

Anyone who has ever had to replace a lost suitcase full of clothing on vacation understands the hassle it can be. Oh, and don't forget about the shoes, toiletries, and accessories — the cost adds up quickly. Plus, who wants to spend their hard-earned vacation days schlepping to a store to buy a new wardrobe? I feel like I'm not alone in saying that precious time is much better spent enjoying the fruits of your trip planning, relaxing, or exploring. But that's only one of the reasons why every travel bag you have needs an Apple Air Tag.

Whether your wayward bag is buried beneath a massive pile of lost luggage in a foreign airport or accidentally left behind in the back seat of your Uber, tracking an AirTag may be the best bet you have to track it down. The concept is super simple and nearly foolproof. Slip an AirTag in your suitcase, and you'll almost always be able to find out where it is. Above and beyond the obvious, there are plenty of great benefits to keeping an Apple AirTag in each piece of luggage when you travel — both checked bags and carry-ons. 

Read more