Located off the beaten path lies the Cigar Palace shop and warehouse, along with the members-only Montecristo Lounge above. Although it took me a while to find (Google Maps, thanks!) I was thrown at first since it was in an office park in an industrial section of VA. But as soon as I walked into the shop, I dug what I saw.
When you walk in, to the left is a huge humidor. But it’s not just that – there are racks of smokes to choose from along the wall to the left, and right as well. The members entrance is to the immediate right, with a staircase that leads to the lounge. The humi itself has such an amazing selection and layout that I think I must have been in there scoping out the selection for about 20 minutes with my mouth watering with anticipation and my wallet dreading the possibilities.
After I checked out all the sticks in the humidor, I began speaking to the manager about the lounge as I went through all the displays in the main area. The shop itself is small, by comparison, to other storefronts that I have been in but their use of space for inventory was phenomenal. They had different smaller displays for rare cigars, as well as a display for their own label which was impressive.
During the conversation with the manager, we shared some common ground and I was invited to grab a stick and be his guest upstairs for a smoke. I was honored by this, and ended up accepting a San Lotano Habano. Touring the lounge, I experienced for the first time I lounge with a lot of diversity provided for the smoking and fellowship of cigar culture.
There are several rooms provided, along with lockers for all the members. The main entrance lounge area provides a group of chairs and smoking tables, along with a flat screen TV on the wall, a small built-in kitchen, and the head (Navy-speak for bathroom). The lighting was natural via a large sun-roof and windows, which added to the relaxing nature.
The Main smoking room was the grand area. There are ample places for seating and meeting, with couches, big-cushioned chairs, and even a great card table for members to share some prolonged relaxing games.
The third room had a smaller 4-top style table for meetings and discussions, and there was even a half-wall built with a single lounge chair and foot rest, along with a small table and lamp to enjoy if you were looking for a little isolation.
Above it all, while I was there I met two members aside from the manager. These gentlemen were really welcoming and a pleasure to be around. We spoke all about the lounge experience, as well as what makes a great lounge. What impressed me most was our elaborate discussions on how the smoking culture provides a solace and comfortable place for people to relax, let down their guards, and be themselves. The impact of reflection, fellowship, and a forum in which to safely enjoy the moment was evident in how they conveyed their experience of being a member.
The Cigar Castle offers online ordering from their wide selection as well as their storefront. The selection is a good one, and reflects their extensive knowledge and respect for cigars. The lounge was exactly what I needed too, and really look forward to the opportunity to visit again.