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The Hotels of Havana

The best places to stay in Cuba’s capital city
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

(continued from page 3)

There is a quaint but extremely well-appointed Casa del Habano on the mezzanine, and you often have to navigate around the peacock to get up the narrow staircase to the shop. The rooms are shabby-chic, but well-appointed, and reminiscent of your grandmother’s old house. The rest of the hotel is well-equipped, and the people here are friendly. It was one of the first refurbished Habaguanex hotels in Old Havana, which dates it to around 1999. It may be in for an update soon, but the hotel won’t lose any of its charm or historical allure.

Hotel Meliá Habana
Av. 3, entre 76 y 80
Playa, Habana
Tel: (537) 204-8500 

It would be wrong to leave out the hotels along the ocean in the Miramar section of Havana just because we love the historic nature of the hotels in Old Havana. Not everyone wants to be surrounded by stucco and paving stones. There was a time when the Hotel Comodoro fit the bill of a great beach hotel, but today, the spot that earns the best of Havana’s beachfront hostelries nod is the Meliá Habana.

It is a modern high-rise with a beautiful pool; there actually is no beach at the hotel, just a rocky ledge, but you can see the ocean from more than 80 percent of the 397 rooms. The executive floors, known as Servicio Real, are well-appointed by Cuban standards and worth the extra fee to stay there. I have no specific recommendations on the restaurants, but the local cognoscenti don’t mention any as the place to dine, unless you just don’t want to leave the hotel. The hotel also has an excellent Casa del Habano, with a friendly staff and a great cigar selection.

There are 10 other hotels in Havana that warrant consideration for any stay. The following in Old Havana are listed in order of preference with specific notes about what makes them special. I’ve left out a couple, including the Hotel Florida and the Hotel Ingleterra, partly because they seem to have been part of that first wave of hotel renovation 10 to 15 years ago, and seem a little more rundown than some of the other places on the list, but they would be acceptable for most visitors.

Hotel Ambos Mundos
Calle Obispo 153, esquina Mercaderes, La Habana Vieja
Tel: (537) 860-9530
E-mail:  See website

This brightly painted, salmon-colored hotel can’t be ignored as you walk through Old Havana. The corner is marred by a big modern building, although, ironically, just across the street is the Palacio de Captaines Generales, which currently houses the Museum of the City of Havana. Calle Mercaderes is one of my favorites in Old Havana with many restaurants, bars and small shops to meander around. It is close to Plaza de Armas and it’s a quick walk to the Plaza Cathedral and
La Bodeguita del Medio. The 52 rooms are standard fare, but the lobby bar is vibrant and almost always filled with people having a good time.

Hotel Parque Central
Neptuno entre Prado y Zulueta, La Habana Vieja
Tel: (537) 860-6627
E-mail: see Website

Just down the street from the Capitol building, the Parque Central is a big, modern hotel in an old colonial building. It is also just across the street from the National Theater, and the Prado, a great tree-lined street running down to the Malecón, runs along one side. It has half a dozen meeting rooms and 427 guest rooms including a presidential suite that matches any in Havana. It has a wonderful rooftop swimming pool with views of the Capitol, and the small Parque Central, which is a classic tree-lined square found in most Latin cities.

Hotel Santa Isabel
Calle Baratillo 9, entre Obispo y Narciso Lopez, La Habana Vieja
Tel: (537) 860-8201

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