There is something ‘infectious’ about Cuba. I was mesmerised on arrival, and as every minute ticked by, I grew increasingly fond of this vibrant and unique country.
If you love modern cities like Dubai, Seoul, and Singapore. If your idea of a holiday is visiting high streets and shopping centres for the latest brands. If you enjoy the glitz and glamour of a neon lit city. Then do not travel to Havana, you will be disappointed.
Havana has literally stood still for the past sixty years. Modernisation so far, has been ever so slight; the character and old-world charm of this city is still intact. But things are changing, albeit slowly for now. Cuba is looking for investment and to raise revenues and tourism offers many opportunities for hard cash.
Yes, there are many derelict buildings, some looking precariously dangerous and clearly would be torn down in most western world capitals, but in Havana it adds to the charm. This vibrant city is full of surprises, distinct architecture, loads of history and historical sights and most importantly, Havana is a safe city to explore, crime is almost non-existent.
Hotels in Havana
Hotels in Cuba provide a variety of accommodations varying in quality, price, and product. You can source anything from a seriously Awesome 5-star hotel to a local Casa (B&B). Your budget, location and personal taste will determine what you settle for, but I thought I would give you some recommendations of Awesome places to stay in Havana.
We all have many reasons for preferring one area over another. In Havana, my first choice for location is in the Old Town, or as close as possible to it. Yes, the price is generally higher in the better locations, but you will be spending less time travelling and saving money on taxis.
Accommodation in Havana
When comparing star ratings in Cuba to what we have become accustomed to in Europe, it is probably wise to equate a 4-star rated property with a 3-star. That does not detract from the service and cleanliness which is generally of a high standard throughout Cuba.
The main reason is that hotels have not had access to funds and materials to maintain a higher standard of maintenance. Furnishings, fixtures, and fittings, as a result, have been subject to wear and tear, which is evident in many properties. Personally, I think it just adds to the character blending in with the surrounding city in an appealing way.
This does not apply to the newer branded hotels like Iberostar, Melia and the new Kempinski as they have global standards to maintain and tend to have either build new hotels or have had the money to invest in properties they have acquired to maintain their brand standards.
The Bed and Breakfast / Apartment is known locally as a Casa and is a growing sector in the Havana accommodation scene. Private residents have taken the opportunity to open their homes up to earn an additional income. The quality is generally good, use a reputable supplier, it’s an Awesome way to integrate into a local neighbourhood.
Havana Hotel Prices
The popularity of Cuba as a sought-after destination is growing and demand is pushing prices higher. In addition, this demand coupled with a lack of hotel rooms enables hoteliers to charge a premium and often prices may be higher than what you would normally expect to pay.
However, in my opinion, the premium is worth every penny, just to be in Havana is so Awesome. You cannot put a price on the history and culture this magnificent city offers its visitors.
The hotel prices are clearly a lot higher in holiday season. If you are not restricted to travelling in school holidays you can get some Awesome Travel Deals to Cuba out of season.
Awesome Luxury Havana Hotel
Havana’s new luxurious 5-star, Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, which I recently visited, is the most Awesome hotel. This is without any doubt, currently the most luxurious contemporary hotel in Havana.
The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is ideally located in old Havana. The 246 rooms and suites are well-appointed, with high ceilings and French windows, some overlooking the old city. The large rooms are spacious, the beds extremely comfortable and the rooms elegantly furnished.
The roof top pool is breath-taking. The views over the city are just incredible. The roof top restaurant and bar are the perfect place to relax after a day sight-seeing in this remarkable city.
The hotel’s Spa Albear by Resense offers state-of-the-art equipment and exclusive treatments. Open daily from 9.00am it is the perfect place to pamper and revive yourself.
Try to book a restaurant table at the window for a romantic dinner; overlooking the Great Theatre of Havana, you will remember this setting for years to come.
My Favourite Havana Hotel
Its location is superb, in fact, around the corner from the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski. The character and ambiance, nothing less than absolutely; charming. You are just a ‘stone’s throw’ from Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite watering hole: El Floridita Bar as well as La Bodeguita del Medio, both ‘must visit’ Havana institutions.
The Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is in the old town of Havana and for me ticks all the boxes. The hotel is renowned for its colonial-style architecture, which pulls in the rich culture of the city’s surroundings.
The staff at the Iberostar are truly awesome, well-trained, pro-active, and so welcoming and engaging. The quality of the food is great with lots of choices and well presented. The lobby bar and lounge area are a stunning location to just ‘kick-back’ and watch the world go-by. There is often live Cuban music performances in the lobby area.
The 427 guest rooms are decorated in a cosy, classic style offering comfortable and clean accommodation. Some rooms have been modernised so chat to your travel agent and make sure you get an Awesome room.
My Favourite Casa in Havana
‘Hands Up’, when I walked into this Havana Casa, I fell in love. The Plazuela Del Angel offers fantastic accommodation away from the traditional hotel scene.
This two-bedroom Casa has a small kitchen, lovely lounge and a balcony overlooking a little square. The location is outstanding, the neighbourhood is great and its close to the old town and the Malecon.
If you’re looking for somewhere private, in a vibrant neighbourhood and within walking distance of many of the cities attraction, Plazuela Del Angel is well worth considering. Blend into the local neighbourhood and ‘live’ Havana alongside the locals.
The Casa has two bedrooms, one with twin beds and the other with a double bed. It’s a fantastic Havana apartment.
Havana’s most Treasured Hotel
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a living museum and although I would not recommend staying here, you must visit this institution. The hotel has hosted some of the world’s most famous leaders and celebrities. The lobby is amazing, the décor, dining rooms, art and preserved features, just Awesome.
Unfortunately, the rooms require a lot of attention and hence I would not suggest staying here presently. However, do go visit and enjoy a meal, a few cocktails at the bar and take in the glorious views across the Malecon, over the Bay of Havana and out into the distance Straits of Florida.
Havana Old Town Hotels
If you are wanting to be near the Old Town, I would suggest trying one of these two Havana Hotels which are extremely well located and offer a comfortable stay.
The Hotel Telegrafo is so well located on Parque Central and offers reasonable accommodation. Expect dated rooms and older furniture and fittings, but it’s clean and more than adequate. Savour the location, a great base to explore a magnificent city.
I loved the bar and inside courtyard area. Such a wonderful and chilled out area to enjoy expertly made mojito’s.
Next door to the Telegrafo Hotel is the Hotel Inglaterra. This hotel occupies a colonial-era building dating from 1875 offering similar standards as the Telegrafo and perfect for location.
The food is good and the roof top terrace a pleasant area to relax with a drink and snack. The rooms are dated but clean and comfortable. This historic Old Havana hotel is opposite the Parque Central.
Havana is one of the best cities I have ever visited; I absolutely love it. If you want to learn more about Cuba read my blog post ‘In Love with Cuba’.
‘Travel opens your mind; Havana will ‘blow your mind’.
Havana is Awesome