The Grand Havana Room Members Only Club is something of a legend in the cigar world. No more exclusive cigar lounge exists. With locations in Beverly Hills, New York City and most recently Moscow, the enigma of what the club is, looks like and what it’s like to be a member are greater than ever. Almost a year ago to date I was first invited to the famed club at its original location in Beverly Hills Ca. As someone who recently moved to LA, a goal on my list was to become a member. Becoming a member however is no easy task. You must be recommended by 2 other current members and the membership fee although listed at $3,000 annually is actually higher by way of food and drink minimums. Meaning you have to show up often enough, drink and eat enough to meet a certain dollar amount and also pay the $3,000 cost of membership of which I’m told is higher now but cannot confirm.
Let’s start at the beginning for a second and get an understanding of how the GHR became a thing. Apparently, as the story goes, Stan Shuster (founder of GHR), friend of superstars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone, was at luck with the above mentioned people in New York. It was a patio set up. They were all enjoying cigars when someones mother came over to the table and gutted them for all of the smoke in the outdoor restaurant. Apparently he hated the situation so much he opened a restaurant/private club for him and his friends to smoke, eat and be merry in. With time and exclusivity, EVERYONE wanted to join. IT seems to me that Shuster’s growth was more of a wait and see or wait and learn before opening up in other cities because they did not open another for close to 10 years. (I cannot seem to fact check this).
So here I am on a sunny California afternoon when I receive a text asking me if I’d like to go to GHR. “GHR” I said, what is that? My friend lol’d me and said the Grand Havana. My answer…”YES”! Threw on a suit with a t-shirt and matching Adidas Calabasas sneakers and headed to the car (mistake on driving myself as I’d find out around midnight while squinting out of one eye to stop the road from veering in two). I got to the right intersection and suddenly I’m lost. I cannot find the place for the life of me. I’m literally at the marker on my maps. Walking back and firth and to and fro. I followed the smell of smoke yet nothing. I even heard my friend yell my name out and still nothing. He came and got me. Apparently the doorway is hidden beside a restaurant in a walkway of other shops. We give our name and a young lady calls upstairs. They ask who we are guests of and we tell them. A small elevator opens and we are on our way.
The elevator opens into a hallway with a door at the end that has a small circular window and a button to press for entry. A gentleman opens the door for us and we walk into a very grand, high ceilinged room. It is pretty large the first time you walk in but I have a feeling it gets smaller the more frequent your visits become. On one side are the private lockers that go as high as the ceiling , about 30 ft if I had to guess, the wall of lockers wave like the ocean and give the room a feeling like it is shaped like a grand piano. Encased in glass and humidified of course. There is a bar although hidden upon entry in the back right. Then entire place is filled with dining tables and chairs neatly dressed, very similar to a swanky steak house. To the left there are outdoor tables on a balcony, our choice of seating. Apparently the main room gets very smoky as the night goes on.
So, a few things I think should be mentioned and then a few that shouldn’t but I will because no one that attends the GHR is ever going to read this. First, I’ve been twice now. The second time the place lost its luster for me and just didn’t tickle me the way it did the first time. The club itself is really a restaurant and bar that allows smoking and will rent you a locker. It’s a 3.5 star maybe 4 star restaurant and bar however so it is swanky as hell. I could see being a member going there for lunch and brunch but dinner had a vibe I’ll get into shortly. Overall, I’m going to guess members spend at least $8,000 annually to be members and I’m probably short changing that number…I’d bet most spend $10,000 and up. So is it worth it? If you can afford it and you live nearby (which would mean you can afford it), sure, if that is your crowd. Personally, If an extra 10-15k a year was no big deal and I lived near, I’d probably join, so there is that. In regards to the things I shouldn’t say…at night when it got busy the place wreaked of bullshit. I’m quite sure like any other demographic most of these people are here to live a shared lifestyle of celebrity. I personally met people I would not hold in high regard. Con artists? Maybe not, but not far from it in some circumstances. Others I met in passing seemed overly wealthy, which hey, we all want to have that problem but as you find out after getting too close to some of these types, money does not make the man. I sensed a ton of bullshit when talking about money. A lot of inflated, show off stories and numbers thrown around yet when the check comes everyone yells dutch. I picked up the tab not once but both times I went. The first out of appreciation for the invite. The inviting member acted upset with me stating members have to pay. I don’t think he was too upset however. The second was out of animosity. To listen to a conversation where people tell me they have the markets down to a science and make $1500 plus a day in minutes of trading to not only run from the check but then break down who had what…yuck. I threw in my platinum AMEX like a boss and said it’s on me big shots. So in the end…I’m glad I had the experience but do not miss it in the slightest.
I hope this helps anyone who was ever curious about the GHR.