What is a hookah bar or lounge?

What is a hookah bar or lounge

Hookah Bar – The new attraction in town!


Hookah bar is an establishment where hookah or shisha is served, typically for smoking flavored molasses in social groups.

Hookah bar is popularly known as hookah lounge, hookah café, shisha lounge, shisha café or shisha bar across different regions.

A hookah lounge is no different from any cafe or restaurant where you can enjoy food, drinks and music. The only addition is that you can also have a hookah or shisha for yourself or the entire group you are hanging around.

Significance of being “Bar”

Being a “bar” does not mean that alcohol would be available in a hookah bar. A hookah lounge may or may not be serving alcohol in the premises along with hookah.

Just because alcohol isn’t served, any lounge offering shisha or hookah can still be called as a hookah bar.

What do you smoke at a hookah bar or lounge?

As the name suggests, you can have hookah or shisha in hookah lounges. It is basically a water pipe that is used to smoke flavored molasses, often containing tobacco, among group of people.

Different variants of hookah such as traditional shisha (flavored molasses), nicotine free flavors, fruits or juices based setups are easily available in these lounges.

Variety of hookahs
Different customized hookah setups

You may also find e-variants such as vape, battery powered hookahs fitted with e-bowls and liquid flavors in a hookah lounge. These are suitable for those who want to smoke appetizing flavors without consuming tobacco.

Read more about what is a hookah and how it works in our detailed guide.

What can you expect at hookah bar?

You can find different themes and decorations at Hookah lounges or bars, just like the common pubs or clubs. A common trait could be dim lightning and low air circulation so that the guests can enjoy smoking.

You should not be surprised, if you find members of a group competing in a hookah bar to produce dense clouds and rings of smoke through hookah.

Separate smoking zone for shisha

Hookah lounge may also have a dedicated place for shisha or hookah lovers. This is usually done to maintain good quality of oxygen and air for the guests not up for smoking.

View of a hookah lounge
Ambiance of a hookah lounge

Smoking flavored molasses through shisha or hookah leaves strong aroma with smoke spreading far and wide. You won’t fail to notice that someone is smoking hookah at any corner of the premises if it’s not physically separated.

Origin of hookah lounge

Traditionally, hookah or shisha was used in India and Middle East countries. Commercial places came up in these countries for enjoying hookah smoking as a social activity over a period of time.

Being exotic and a popular social activity, the concept has spread quickly to rest of the world. Hookah lounge can now be seen in most of the countries where license for public smoking in a confined premises are available.

Hookah Bars in United States

In United States, hookah bar is usually a tea or coffee shop or a cafe or even a club, where people gather for long smoking sessions for recreation. These places carry permit for indoor smoking in their premises.

Combined with live music, barbecues and cocktails, modern hookah lounges offer lucrative setup to their guests along with hookah for smoking flavored molasses.

Age limit to get in a hookah bar or lounge

Norms of the relevant place, where hookah lounge is situated, should ideally regulate the age limit for getting inside a hookah bar. In most of the countries, the prescribed age is 18 years for smoking in public, such as in a hookah lounge.

In United States, the legal age for smoking in a public place is 18 years. However, in few areas, such as New York, one needs to be at least 21 years old to enter inside hookah lounges where public smoking is permitted.

age to get in a hookah lounge or bar
Minimum age to get inside hookah lounge

Most of the lounges may not even check your ID to verify the age. Thus, you may be successful getting entry to a hookah lounge, even if you are under 18 or such other minimum prescribed age as per your jurisdictional regulations.

However, the federal or local laws regulating smoking would still be applicable for each individual. Do check the practice and legalities around smoking before you end up committing a legal offence.

How much is a hookah bar? – Hookah Bar Cost and Prices

Hookah bars normally charge for each shisha bowl or flavor that you order. The price could also vary depending on hookah base, number of hoses and the design of hookah you intend to use.

On average, the price for hookah served by a hookah lounge is around $10 to $15 for one shisha bowl. The flavor refills are generally priced at $5 to $8 per bowl. Considering that a bowl lasts around 20 to 30 minutes, average cost of renting a hookah comes around $15 to $20 for an hour of shisha session.

around $15 for hookah lounge

Some hookah lounges offer dynamic pricing depending upon number of pipes, filters, mouthpieces, and type of flavors. Few places could also charge more depending on number of persons sharing a single hookah setup.

You’ll have to shell out extra bucks for nicotine free flavor, usually in a liquid state, contained in an electric hookah head instead of traditional shisha bowls. Hookah bars don’t shy charging as high as $30 per bowl for premium flavors and customized setups such as watermelon base or an apple fruit bowl.

The concept of free hookah, if you reach a minimum billing threshold, is also getting popular nowadays.

Do hookah bars get you high?

No. There is nothing in a hookah that can make you high. It is a simple device that produces smoke which gets filtered through water before inhaled by the user.

What could actually get you high is tobacco, contained in small quantities in flavored molasses used in a hookah or shisha bowl. If you opt for tobacco free flavor, there is nothing really that could get you high.

If flavors (containing high quantity of tobacco) are used in a hookah, you may feel dizziness or what is called getting high. That is normal with consumption of tobacco in any form, either through smoking a hookah or cigarette.

One contrasting feature is the size of puff produced through a hookah as compared to cigarette or cigar. A single puff could have almost 10 times more smoke as compared to the counterparts. However, the small quantity of tobacco and filtration through water dilutes the intoxicating effect to a great extent.

hookah or shisha puff

Thus, it really depends upon the flavors that you use in a hookah. Tobacco based flavors will cause dizziness for short duration. One must be careful about the frequent use of tobacco though. You do not want to get addicted to consuming tobacco as it highly increases the chances of cancer developing into your body.

Regulations around hookah lounge

In various jurisdictions, there is a ban on hookah lounges or bars. The key intent behind such regulations being to prohibit smoking at public places. Various hookah bars offer tobacco free flavours only to remain within the legal limits.

The operation of hookah lounge is sternly monitored with strict licensing controls. Thus, if you visit a decent lounge at one of the prime locations*, you need not worry about breaking any federal norms. You should expect only what’s legally allowed for you.

The conclusion

A hookah bar or lounge is definitely worth a try. It’s both exciting and relaxing to see dense clouds oozing out of you while leaving pleasant flavours for your taste buds.

You must ensure that you are visiting a reputed lounge where no adulterated or harmful flavors are served. Also, if you are going for tobacco based flavors, don’t make hookah a regular habit or end up with an addiction to tobacco.

While it may amuse you for some time, the long term effects of consuming tobacco could be really destructive.

* Try finding hookah lounges near you on Google.



  1. Lately, I have been looking to expand my horizons and try new things. Thank you for explaining to me that a hookah lounge is a tobacco smoking lounge where the smoke is highly concentrated. I think this sounds like an enjoyable experience. I will have to see if there are any locations in my area that I could try out!


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