There has been a long debate about what is the best brand of hookah. It’s not going to be over any time soon and I think it’s about time I throw my hat into the ring. There are so many options out there, how can you possibly choose just one hookah for all time? I think it’s better to choose a best brand of hookahs for each style and even that is tough.
Nour is a Syrian hookah brand that has been a favorite of mine for a long time. Syrian hookahs tend to be medium sized (around 27 inches) and have a good draw that many call restrictive. The draw is great in my book. Just a little resistance to let you feel the pull from the hookah but open enough to let you get a good puff without straining. What makes Nour hookahs special is the design. They are mostly cast brass rather than turned steel and the designs are simple with a classy stoicism.
Khalil Mamoosn, known commonly as KM hookahs, these Egyptian made rigs are considered to be the best hookahs on the market by many. I do not agree but they are definitely the best choice for many people without access to a lot of harder to find brands. I have a KM double trimetal and a KM Halzone. Both smoke wonderfully. KM hookahs are a bit more flashy in design than some other brands and they are constantly pumping out new models to satisfy the increasingly fervent collectors market. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Fast production of new pipes means there is never a shortage of new KMs hitting shelves, so you won’t be left in the cold trying to hunt for a rare pipe, but quick work can lead to some sloppy welds. There are a wide variety of models to choose from with beautiful details and unique design elements but sometimes they discontinue models to make room for something new.
You will pay for these extra touches and the popularity of Khalil Mamoon hookahs is what drives forward their ever expanding library of designs. Recently this has included solid stem hookahs similar to the Syrian hookahs. I have yet to use one of these but I have heard good things.
Mya Saray, Often just called Mya, is a Chinese company that makes a hookah for everyone. They make everything from the tiny QT to the gigantic 40″ Colossus. I own both of those and have worked with a couple rigs in between. The variety of styles draws a lot of people in and they aren’t cheaply made like the vast majority of hookahs coming out of China. These are not the handmade pipes you get from Egypt and Syria. These are factory made, prefab hookahs which can be disassembled and repaired with replacement parts if necessary. You might no get the handmade feel of other hookahs but you get consistency. you don’t have to worry about drippy welds or shoddy work. Each hookah is identical to the next in line and they offer everything from small budget hookahs to the ridiculously expensive “Royal” line that includes hookahs costing thousands of USD.
These are not your common hookahs and they can sometimes be hard to acquire but they are the pride of many traditional smokers. Elmas is the brand to know as they set the standard that many others try to emulate. The prices are a bit high but they have come down as the market demanded Turkish hookahs and more companies were willing to invest in the gamble that these gorgeous and visually arresting hookahs demand. They are still hard to find but worth the effort if you want something truly beautiful and don’t mind the lack of a purge valve.
I know it will seem like a soft ball answer but I truly believe that “the best hookah” is the one you like the most so long as it’s not a piece of junk. Of the brands I’ve mentioned here, I most love my Nour. They are a bit hard to find right now and people know they can charge ridiculous prices for them, so it’s definitely not the best choice for everyone. Hell, it’s a bad choice for anyone other than collectors or people lucky enough to already own them.