Since the culture of hookah shisha is one of relaxation, it’s best to approach the process of hookah buying with patience. Research the subject, become familiar with the best materials and products, consider the aesthetics–what pleases most and will most enhance the smoking experience for you? Quality, beauty, and price are the broad parameters to consider when you set out to buy hookahs.
While it’s a good idea to have checked out any local retail outlets where hookahs are available, and to have tried various hookah pipes at a lounge, your best bet in meeting the above criteria is probably going to be buying online. There’s simply a much broader range of hookahs available online, without the markup a brick-and-mortar store is forced to charge.
For the hookah body, also called the vase, or govde, Pyrex glass or ceramic, or some other non-porous, tempered material, are the best. Avoid wood or copper. Bases come in sizes from small to large and a multihued array of colors and designs. Stems will generally be stainless steel or another solid metal, fluted and, again, in a range of heights. Hoses also come in a variety of styles and lengths. The tobacco bowl should be ceramic, clay, or metal. You can get a hookah with one hose fitting or multiple hose fittings. There are a number of sites where you can build your own hookah from a selection of parts, and others where you can order custom hookahs. There is a wide selection of high quality hookahs available ready-made, however.
Egyptian hookahs generally have hand-blown glass bases in jewel and opal-toned colors, while Syrian hookahs have exquisitely ornamented ceramic or glass bases. Beyond these traditional styles there are a plethora of modern interpretations, animal shaped hookahs, mod hookahs, mini hookahs, traveling hookahs complete with carrying case, and rotating hookahs. Prices range from about $35 for a mini, quality, single-hose hookah, with a mid-range for medium hookahs at $60 to $100, and from about $115 to $135 or more for a large hookah. For a custom hookah, you can spend from around $225 for crystal to as much as $1,000 for a hookah made of silver.
Most hookah purchases will come with individual bowl, stem, plate, base, and hose or hoses, in separable parts for ease of cleaning, and will include tongs for coals, screens, brushes for cleaning, and instructions. Some will also come with a carrying case and extra rubber stoppers, some hookah tobacco and charcoal.