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Your Home in Havana

Whether They Showcase the Old City, the Skyline or the Sea, Havana's Hotels Offer Plenty of Diverse Places to Stay
From the Print Edition:
The Cuba Issue, May/Jun 99

(continued from page 2)

The top feature of the Meliá Cohiba is its excellent service. Manager Carlos Villota has instilled a professionalism and confidence in his staff that makes them extremely helpful and efficient. Rooms are modern and well equipped, with comfortable furniture and all the modern conveniences, including satellite television and direct-dial international telephones. The handful of restaurants serve good food, especially the Italian pizzeria. The large swimming pool is an enjoyable place to retreat from the grind of the city. Don't forget to stop in at the Relicario cigar bar for a drink and a smoke. The cigar shop in the lobby often has cigars you can't find in other places.

Hotel Nacional
Calle O esquina a 21
Vedado, Plaza
Phone: 33 35 62, 33 35 64
Fax: 33 50 54
450 rooms
Rates: $90 to $350
Cosmetically, Hotel Nacional has changed very little since it reopened in the spring of 1992 after a $64 million facelift. It remains the most beautiful hotel in Havana, a twentieth-century neocolonial monument to the opulent days of 1930s Cuba. A walk through the lobby and into the garden is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Moreover, the hotel has two of the best swimming pools in Havana.

Nearly everything else about the hotel, however, is a letdown. Just one look at a guest room and you will understand. Why would anyone want to stay in such cheaply decorated rooms? Combine this with the slow and impersonal service, and it's no wonder that the place is now full of package tourists, when in the early 1990s it was the preferred hotel for businesspeople and diplomats.

Hotel Victoria
19 y M
Phone: 33 35 10
Fax: 33 31 09
31 rooms
Rates: $80 to $100
This small hotel is almost forgotten among all the larger and newer places to stay in Havana, but it remains comfortable and friendly. Located a few minutes' walk from the Hotel Nacional, the Victoria has a devoted clientele of businesspeople and upscale tourists. The rooms are simple and well appointed in a 1970s style, but rather small compared to other top hotels. There's a decent restaurant as well as a small swimming pool.

Habana Libre
Ave. 23 Calle L
Phone: 33 40 11
Fax: 33 31 41
572 rooms
Rates: $130 to $150
Another late-1950s monument, the Habana Libre has been busy renovating, and it has worked out relatively well. Called the Havana Hilton in its prerevolution days, this huge hotel has a hip '50s retro feel and remains popular with Latin American businesspeople and budget-conscious European travelers. Its main restaurants, the Polinesio and El Barracon, aren't bad, while the lobby bar and pool are pleasant. The cigar shop is also very good. Rooms are reminiscent of those at a hotel on any U.S. interstate, but everything works, from satellite television to direct-dial telephones.

Habana Riviera
Paseo y Malecon
Vedado, Plaza
Phone: 33 40 51
Fax: 33 37 39
355 rooms
Rates: $80 to $110
The giant flashing neon sign of the Habana Riviera only partially works (it usually just says: Rivie),which should give you an idea of the quality of this hotel. Despite recent renovations, it remains second-rate in decor, accommodations and service. The only good thing about the hotel is the occasional music gig at its club, Palacio de la Salsa.


Hotel Meliá Habana
Ave. 3ra. entre 76 y 80
Phone: 24 85 00
Fax: 24 95 05
409 rooms (including four suites)
Rates: $140 to $400

This is one of the newest and largest hotels in Cuba, giving travelers the services and pleasures of both a business hotel and a beach resort. The Meliá Habana is first-rate across the board, with numerous restaurants, swimming pools, private beaches, business centers, a gym and tennis courts. Rooms are new and up to the standards of most international hotel groups. Ask for one with a view of the Gulf of Mexico. Plus, there's an executive floor for more personalized service.

Hotel Comodoro
Ave. 1a y Calle 84
Phone: 24 55 51
Fax: 24 20 28
558 rooms (301 bungalows)
Rates: $80 to $240
For years, the Hotel Comodoro was the only serious upscale resort to be found in Havana, but over the past five or six years it has been outdone by new competition. This situation may change with ongoing renovations, which will include better restaurants and bars, a business center, a cigar bar and a fully equipped gym.

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