What Is a Hookah Lounge, & What To Expect
Many people experience hookah for the first time in a hookah lounge, going out to experience something new, and maybe even taking up a new hobby.
Many others smoke their first hookah in a home of a friend or family member who has their own hookah, learning in the comfort of a home from a trusted friend who knows what they are doing.
Whether you smoke hookah for the first time at a hookah lounge or at home, you will likely visit a hookah lounge at some point to experience what it can be like to smoke hookah out and see the social aspect of hookah smoking as well.
For first-timers, the idea of visiting a hookah lounge can be scary, particularly if you have no idea what to expect going into it.
Well, the good news is there is nothing to worry about. Hookah lounges are very laid-back, fun places that are a great space to meet new people and learn more about hookah.
If you are getting ready to visit your first hookah lounge, this guide is for you. Here are a few things that you can expect at a hookah lounge.
How Did Hookah Lounges Start?
Well, this question takes us all the way back to the origins of hookah smoking in the first place. Hookah first originated in India (according to the most popular stories), where it traveled eventually into the Middle East, and then Northern Africa, where it gained popularity everywhere it went and became a cultural staple all throughout the Eastern world.
In Egypt, where hookah became very popular, we see the first hookah lounges popping up. These were Egyptian lounges that served coffee and offered hookah to be smoked in a casual social setting. Hookah lounges in Egypt helped to popularize and destigmatize tobacco smoking in the region, and it soon became popularized around the world over time.
Now, hookah lounges are all over the place, cropping up in the U.S. as exciting social spots for young people who have developed a love affair with hookah smoking.
What Do Hookah Lounges Look Like?
This can be an important question for first-time lounge visitors who don’t want to be surprised and thrown off by their surroundings. If you have never been to a hookah lounge, you may have no idea what to expect from the appearance and ambiance of a hookah lounge.
In the United States, many hookah lounges have adopted a very modern feel and aesthetics. This is mainly fueled by the younger, stylish crowd that have found and fallen in love with hookah smoking throughout the country.
Many hookah lounges will decorate and style their lounges with Eastern themes, including Arabic-style decor, even playing Arabic or Indian music. Some lounges will, conversely, abandon the traditional decor and go for a modern aesthetic completely Western in appearance.
There is nothing wrong with either one — they can both provide fun and beautiful surroundings for a great hookah session.
What Is Served at Hookah Bars?
If you are going to a hookah bar for the first time, you may not know what you can and cannot purchase there.
The most traditional of hookah bars will serve traditional coffee or tea, staples of the first hookah bars in Egypt.
You will also find that many hookah bars serve a full menu of food as well. Many hookah lounges are also full restaurants, so you can get anything from a light snack to a full meal. Hookah lounges may serve American fare or Middle Eastern fare depending on their theming, with many serving both.
You will also find that there are a wide array of shisha flavors that you can purchase for your hookah smoking experience. You are also typically allowed to combine up to three flavors for your bowl so that you can get the ultimate flavor experience.
The only thing that you are not likely to find at most hookah bars, especially traditional hookah bars, is alcohol. The reason for this is that in Muslim culture, drinking alcohol is not very well accepted, and many hookah lounges uphold these traditions to provide a cultural experience.
What Is the Air Quality Like in a Hookah Bar?
You may wonder about one thing in particular about hookah bars, whether you’re a smoker or not: the air quality. After all, smoking indoors is illegal in most spaces in the United States, so it may be tough to gauge what to expect.
The truth is that the air quality in a hookah lounge is not great due to the high concentration of smoke that hangs out in the air. It is nothing to be too concerned about, however, as smoking hookah will expose you to smoke anyway, so being around the extra smoke isn’t much extra compared to what you’re breathing in. It really only makes a difference if you’re tagging along to eat or just socialize, and you won’t already be smoking hookah directly.
Because of the air quality, you may find that some very modern hookah lounges offer oxygen on the menu as well. You can inhale straight oxygen for a little clean air refresh.
What Is the Hookah Lounge Etiquette I Need To Know?
Since hookah is a centuries-old tradition, there is a lot of etiquette that you should know when going to a hookah lounge, especially a traditional lounge, to ensure that you don’t offend anyone.
First of all, you should be polite and kind to your server, and to anyone who works at the establishment. Just like any other place that you may go to, you should always lead with kindness — it will get you far.
Next, you should be using a hookah tip every time you smoke out of respect to your fellow smoker. A hookah tip is a small plastic piece that you place at the end of your hose to keep your mouth from touching the shared portion of the hookah hose. Using a tip helps prevent the spread of germs, and if you are smoking in a hookah lounge, you should always be using a tip for the most hygienic (and considerate) smoking experience possible.
You should also be sharing the hose around the table, about two to three minutes per turn is a typically fair spread.
If you are smoking at a more traditional hookah lounge, then there are extra customs to follow. You should make sure to keep the hookah on the floor, as it is considered a servant and should not be placed at your height. You should also be careful when passing the hookah hose — when passing, keep the tip facing yourself. Passing with the tip facing outwards can be seen as a sign of disrespect.
Hookah Lounges: The Takeaways
There is nothing to be afraid of on your first visit to the hookah lounge — they are laid-back and relaxing environments to enjoy hookah and meet other people who share your interests.
A hookah lounge could be decorated in a modern aesthetic, particularly newer hookah lounges that target younger smokers. You can also find traditional hookah lounges decorated with Arabic and Indian decor that stick much closer to established hookah culture.
You can often find food and coffee served at hookah lounges, as well as tons of shisha options, but you are unlikely to find alcohol on the menu.
Make sure to share the hookah around the table fairly and to always use a tip when sharing a hose to keep things clean.
If you are smoking in a more traditional lounge, you should also be aware of the traditions and customs. Keep the hookah on the ground and pass the hose with the tip facing you, never facing towards who you are passing to.
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With high-quality hookah setups from small to large in the sleekest designs you’ll find on the market, you can have that hookah lounge feel from the comfort of your own living room.