There are only two real hookah bars in the city: Three Kings of Egypt (pictured top left) and Zeeba Lounge (bottom left).
In case you're wondering, I'm not including Hucka's on Boston Street because it's an odd combination hookah lounge and sports bar, which ends up being the worst of both worlds.
Three Kings and Zeeba are just across the street from each other on Light Street in Federal Hill. The two are so different they barely competed with each other -- until recently.
At Three Kings, the decor is nothing special, but the atmosphere is unpretentious and the hookahs cheap. It has plain metal chairs, fluorescent lighting and a few Egyptian murals painted on the walls.
Zeeba goes for the swanky look, with rugs and booths and cushion seats.
About a year back, hookahs at Three Kings were only $8 each. Then it went up to $9. Then $9.50.
Now, a hookah at Three Kings is a whopping $12. That's how much they've always charged at Zeeba.
I don't know why Three Kings thinks it can get away with $12 a hookah, but for that price, I'd rather go to Zeeba, where at least you're paying for the decor.