Where to smoke cigars in London: JJ Fox
A store full of history
Established in 1787 by Robert Lewis, the JJ Fox Cigar Merchants company started selling fine tobacco on St. James street. Then, in 1881 James J Fox was formed in Dublin, and finally expanded by James’ son Freddy to London in 1947. This gives JJ Fox the right to boast of having the honor to be the oldest cigar shop in London.
With distinguished customers such as members of the royal family and England’s nobility, and public figures like Sir Winston Churchill or Sir Oscar Wilde. To this date they have received eight Royal Warrants, with the last of them being issued by the Queen Mother in 1997. They still continue to supply cigars to the royal household to this day.
A place for a moment of relaxation
When walking into the store, immediately an aura of elegance surrounds you, practically involving all 5 senses. The staff is very willing to help, and will immediately lend a guiding hand both to the beginner cigar smokers and cigar connoisseurs. At the far end the store has an impressive walk in humidor with a wide range of cigars. Of course, the prices might seem a bit steep at first, but it is well worth it once you go up to the first floor.
Here there is a lounge, that continues with the general style of the store. Comfortable seats, a relaxing environment with all the necessary amenities to have a good a conversation or have a moment of peace. If you are lucky enough to get one of the tables by the windows, there is a fantastic view of St James street. This will be specially interesting for the non British visitors, as it is a sight that would remind one of the traditional though of England.
Something which does surprise in this lounge though, is the amount of young people which you can find. As Mr. Shervington, cigar consultant for JJ Fox, told the Express “We have a lot of younger people coming into the industry and hopefully they will carry on, they certainly will be here for the next 50 years.”
A hidden treasure
Downstairs however, are the crown jewels. Walking down the wooden stares, one reaches a medium sized room which would not stand out for any particular reason. In it however, are treasures of the modern history, most of them related to Sir Winston Churchill. Examples of this are historical ledges, cigars from the 1851 Great Exhibition, some of Chruchill’s famous hats and even the chair where he wold sit while waiting to choose his favorite cigars at the store.
There is even a telegram from Churchill, dating January 1963, and directed to JJ Fox during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It reads: “Gentleman, Sir Winston Churchill bid me express to you his warm thanks for the manner in which you are reserving cigars for him during the present difficulties of supply. He is indeed obliged to you.” This is definitively a sight worth seeing for any cigar lover in the world.