It's Not Your Typical Cigar Lounge at Blue Cigar at Raffles Doha

It's Not Your Typical Cigar Lounge at Blue Cigar at Raffles Doha
Raffles Doha's Blue Cigar. Courtesy of Raffles Doha

There is nothing more exclusive than Raffles Doha when it comes to rare books and bespoke cigars.

The Middle East is one of the best places on earth when it comes to luxury. It is possible that Louis XIV's pre-Revolutionary France or Renaissance Florence (with the palazzo-loving Medicis at the helm) could have been competitive compared to today's GCC countries when it comes to over-the-top extravagance; however, today the GCC countries are clearly leaders in the field. One such example is the recently opened "six-star" Raffles Doha in Qatar, which is just one of the new properties in the city.  

Its screams are louder than its whispers if money speaks and wealth whispers. Each of the 132 keys is a suite; there are no normal ceilings; Bianco Statuario marble covers every surface; and gold is everywhere. FIFA execs chose this hotel for the 2022 World Cup, which should tell you everything you need to know.

Aesthetics, however, are not the only factor at play. There's a deeper story behind the hotel's fanciful facade - especially at Blue Cigar, the hotel's one-of-a-kind cigar lounge that's also a library of rare books (including 200 first editions), making it an extraordinary place not only for Doha but for the world as a whole.

To start with, Blue Cigar offers cigars from three different countries: Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, so you have a wide variety to choose from.

Courtesy of Raffles Doha

“Middle Eastern aficionados prefer Cuban cigars because they’re loyal and traditionists, but they’re also open to exploring,” David Alexander Dospassos, who wears a suit with velvet slippers and a smoking jacket designed by British couturier Nicholas Oakwell, explains.

A 22-line menu is offered (the most in Doha), but it is the cigars that make this place stand out. Three custom cigars will be available in the coming weeks from A.G. Molinari (who worked with Cuban President Fidel Castro): the Don Josés, the Don Placidos, and the Big Lucianos, all with unique tastes and different vitolas (shapes).

“Nowhere else in Doha has custom cigars [and] this is our own exclusive blend,” adds Dospassos. “These cigars are made with tobacco that has been aged for more than 20 years. They’re coming from the Dominican Republic, but we have a blend of different nationalities. The wrapper, for example, is from a blend of Cuban tobacco donated by Fidel Castro to Molinari in 1997.”

Each line of the Molinari cigars will only be available in a limited quantity (with Don Joses and Don Placidos being limited to 40,000 pieces each), as the cigars are all made with a capa (wrapper) made from the historic Cuban tobacco that dates back thousands of years. As Dospassos explains, if this is over, it's over—there are limited quantities of tobacco. You cannot make more.

Courtesy of Raffles Doha

Aside from its sweeping bookcases, the Blue Cigar's interior features thundercloud-blue curtains and empire crystal chandeliers. “We have 6,500 books from auction and [many] first editions,” says director of food and beverage Cem Aksahin (whose private collection contains over 7,000 cigars).

“On a daily basis, we have a book-reading ceremony, where we pick one of the books and read one chapter out loud, which you can then match with your cigar and your drink,” notes Aksahin.

The bookshelves provide the inspiration for the cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). A Captain's Grog, for instance, combines rum, lychee, banana, lemon, and bitters in a pewter mug under a smoke-filled cloche, pays homage to the library's numbered edition of Moby Dick.

An edition of Robinson Crusoe from 1785, and a first trade edition of Treasure Island are other rare books. It is exciting to invite guests to touch and read the books. A magnifying glass and white gloves will be brought to your table with any book you request. And if someone spills? “That just becomes part of the story of the book.”

Courtesy of Raffles Doha

In Rich Report's opinion, Blue Cigar has already developed a loyal following within the local area, no doubt aided by the selective atmosphere of the establishment. “In Doha, some of the VIP guests don’t like to be seen,” as Aksahin opens a door hidden within one of the bookcases, he opens yet another door leading to a secret room filled with even more rare books - only here, in a playful wink, they are all spy novels and detective novels.

The Blue Cigar team is launching bespoke smokes and secret chambers in an effort to create an experience that is rarely taken. In addition, a Cuban torcedor (cigar roller) will be brought into the lounge to craft cigars for added theatricality. In order to recreate the Blue Cigar experience, the cigar sommelier will travel to offices and private majlis (sitting rooms) to deliver cigars; and there may even be a cigar academy and workshop for both guests and locals.

There is a hotel named Raffles Doha located in Lusail City, Doha, Qatar, located on Marina East Street. The price for a room starts at 4,280 Qatari Riyal per night.

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