One of the more difficult hotels to find in Old Havana, if you do not know exactly where to look, is the Conde de Villanueva. Located in the Calle de los Mercaderes, it is a true gem. Once you walk into the open-air foyer, you will know that it is worth the search. When some people think of old-world charm, their thoughts turn to manual elevators and such. The lobby of the Conde de Villanueva reminded me of a time when people would ride their horses into the hotel and tie them up at the trough before checking in. It truly is magnificent.
Many of the finer hotels in Havana have a La Casa del Habanos cigar store in it, and the Conde is no exception. You have to walk up a flight of stairs – and if you are of above-average height, make sure you duck – to get to this hidden gem. For inside I met Reynaldo, and what a story he has to tell.
We caught up on my most recent trip to Havana, and I have to say I was really impressed by his offerings of custom rolls. Most rollers have 4-5 vitolas. Reynaldo’s humidor had seventeen different vitolas on offer, priced from the petit corona (3cuc) to the Diadema and the Maravilloso, priced at 12cuc each.
In addition to these custom offerings, Reynaldo has several novelty cigars that he rolls, some as long as my thigh… and be careful when you sit on the couch, because there is a six foot giant wrapped along the back of the furniture, beneath just some of his football (soccer) scarves.
I like the larger ring-gauge cigars, so Reynaldo set me up with a Habanero, at a whopping 75 ring gauge. if you wonder about the taste, after nearly two hours I went looking for a toothpick to use as a makeshift nubbing tool… it was just that good!
Reynaldo has been rolling cigars for thirty years, and has been the in-house torcedor at the Conde de Villanueva for twenty. That doesn’t mean he stays put… far from it! The company has sent him to events far and wide, from Australia and Japan to Germany and the Philippines. He has been all around the world, sharing his passion and his mastery of cigars.
Favourite custom rolls: the BHK 56 and the Sabroso.
Drink of choice: Single malt whisky
Countries travelled to: 25