A hookah (also known as a waterpipe, narghile, arghila, qalyān, shisha, or by other names) is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing and smoking flavored shisha in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin often glass based basin before inhalation. The origin of the waterpipe is from the time of the Safavid dynasty in Persia (Iran), from where it eventually spread to the east into India during that time. The hookah or Argyleh also soon reached Egypt and the Levant during the Ottoman dynasty from neighboring Safavid Iran, where it became very popular and where the mechanism was later perfected. The word hookah is a derivative of “huqqa”, an Arabic term. Outside its native region, smoking the hookah has gained popularity in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, Tanzania, and South Africa, largely due to immigrants from the Levant, where it is especially popular, who introduce it to younger people.

The widespread use of the Indian word “hookah” in the English language is a result of the British Raj, the British dominion of India (1858–1947), when large numbers of expatriate Britons first sampled the water pipe. William Hickey, shortly after arriving in Kolkata, India, in 1775, wrote in his Memoirs:

 “The most highly-dressed and splendid hookah was prepared for me. I tried it, but did not like it. As after several trials I still found it disagreeable, I with much gravity requested to know whether it was indispensably necessary that I should become a smoker, which was answered with equal gravity, “Undoubtedly it is, for you might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion. Here everybody uses a hookah, and it is impossible to get on without. I have frequently heard men declare they would much rather be deprived of their dinner than their hookah. “


The hookah lounge (also called a shisha bar or den, especially in Britain and parts of Canada, FullSizeRender (4)or a hookah bar) is an establishment where patrons share shisha from a communal hookah or nargile which is placed at each table.

Hookah lounges are mostly found in college towns and urban areas and are regarded by some as a novel and chic way to socialize and embrace multiculturalism. Some people of Middle Eastern or South Asian extraction consider them a continuation of their own cultural traditions.

Often, hookah lounges are owned and operated by people from the Arab world, origin and or other regions where use of the hookah is a centuries-old tradition. Many hookah lounges incorporate such elements as Islamic decor and Arabic music or Indian music.

Typically a disposable mouthpiece is provided for each user for hygiene reasons. Hookah lounges do not typically have liquor licenses but instead derive the bulk of their revenue from sales of coffee, tea, soft drinks and snack foods. Almost all offer Turkish coffee.

Some hookah lounges have well-equipped kitchens and are more akin to bistros. In the broadest sense, any restaurant or nightclub can be considered a hookah lounge if it offers patrons hookahs, shisha and a comfortable place to smoke. Some offer Middle Eastern cuisine menu items.



In the United States, establishments akin to hookah lounges first opened decades ago in the immigrant quarters10346269_1460648120890777_4563193097006926183_n of New York City and Los Angeles, California. Patrons were typically men of Middle Eastern descent. The first establishment to call itself the Hookah Lounge, is in Las Vegas, Nevada. They registered the name and began using the URL Hookahlounge.com. They have two locations in Las Vegas. It was the first full service bar that focused its business around serving hookahs.

Many hookah lounges in the United States have chic or modernistic elements such as glass tables, plasma televisions, and oxygen bars. Most bars in the U.S. require patrons to be at least 18 years of age to smoke shisha and 18 years of age to purchase (exceptions are Utah, Arizona, Alabama, and New Jersey), however the laws in some other states require the patron to only be 18 years of age to purchase or possess, which in a hookah bar, the patron is doing none of these, therefore one is likely to find under age teenagers in many hookah bars in the United States.

Over the recent years hookah in general has become increasingly popular for the young-adults; those who are just at the legal age to smoke in their state. It is not uncommon now to find hookah bars within short distance of college campuses and in the surrounding towns. This younger generation has revitalized the hookah market, hookah bars are successful and remaining open despite indoor smoking bans. For private hookah smokers, many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets now offer hookah products for sale.