If you love smoking with a hookah and also love to travel, then you may be wondering how you can appropriately combine these favorite past-times. Hookah is a social smoking activity that involves inhaling plain or flavored tobacco through an instrument—called the hookah—that vaporizes it in a water pipe and glass basin. Although the history of hookah dates back to the late 15th century in India, today it has a much more modernized place in the world.
You can find hookah at popular ethnic restaurants around the country, and there are many different devices and designs to choose from if you want a hookah in your own home. However, although hookah today has become much more mainstream, there are still places you can visit where the hookah has much more complex and historical roots. Here are some of the best cities in the world you can travel for hookah:
It goes without mentioning that India is one of the places you should travel to smoke hookah. After all, this is where it was started. Abdul-Fath Gilani—who was a physician to Akbar I—is credited for creating the hookah instrument we know today (although it was later modified). He believed that he could minimize the effects of smoking tobacco if its smoke passed through water before being inhaled.
Unfortunately, new laws in New Delhi will eliminate hookah bars in the city, as too much popularity have made it difficult for some to enjoy popular bars and restaurants in the area without overcrowding. Still, there are other parts of India—like Mumbai—where you can enjoy a favorite pastime. If you enjoy sports, Flaming Tables 24 is a solid option for you, as they have daily sports screenings and alcohol as well. On the other hand, the Hive is a sophisticated lounge with cozy, private smoking booths. Check out this list for more extensive options.
If you’ve got a little extra cash to spare, Dubai is the place to go. Known for its extravagant buildings and luxury accommodations, Dubai is a place where you can straddle the bridge between old and new. And there are many great hookah lounges in Dubai to choose from.
For instance, Smoky Beach combines shisha smoking with seaside-sitting; sit on comfy bean bag chairs as you listen to the sound of the water, and pick from a long list of flavors. Smoky Beach—which serves food and drinks as well— is one of the most popular spots in the Dubai Marina, an affluent neighborhood rich with visitors. For your typical Arabian-style outing, opt for a place like the Buhayra Lounge. There’s also a fancy swimming pool lined with palm trees, and traditional Arabic food on the menu.
At some point in history, smoking shisha was reserved for the upper class of the Arab world. When you’re in Morocco, you’ll find hookah bars at every turn. This is a good thing, as many people consider Morocco one of the premier homes of hookah.
Try the So Lounge in Marrakech, a popular option for those in the area with great reviews. This is a good option if you’re seeking a one-night stop, with popular music, a DJ, and drinks. The Sky Bar is also an elegant place to smoke, and you can enjoy your chosen flavors under the stars and moonlight. Upstairs, you’ll find a bar where you can continue your evening.
And there’s plenty of other things to do in Morocco, too. Ride the sand dunes, go camel trekking, visit the mosaic temples, and shop around the multi-faceted souks, where you can find everything from leather handmade goods to dozens of aromatic spices.
In Turkey, smoking shisha is a part of the everyday culture. No matter what neighborhood you stay in, there’s likely a great lounge for smoking near you. The water pipe in this country is called nargile, and the Tophane district of Istanbul is referred to as “nargile central” for its endless supply of options.
The Lulu Hookah Lounge offers amazing views of the Bosporus, although it’s a little on the pricey side. There’s also the Perla Kallavi Teras Café, which is in the popular Taksim Square, and they use real oak coal to give it a distinct flavor. Check out some other popular nargile spots in Istanbul here.
New York City
While most places on this list are closer to the origins of hookah, New York City is a worthy mention for many reasons. First and foremost, New York City has a rich and diverse culture, making it an ideal setting for someone who wants to try many different types of foods and activities. There’s also plenty of things to do in NYC. Horus Cafe—owned and operated by an Egyptian—is a city favorite, with a strong food menu (think: grape leaves, hummus, kebabs) and popular flavors like Blue Mist. Other popular spots include Kazuza, the Desert Rain Lounge, and Pergola.