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Top 10 Hotels in Havana

Top 10 Hotels in Havana

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on May 06, 2014

Tourism is the second most profitable activity in Cuba. Nowadays there are sixty-five hundred hotel rooms in the country, and for 2020, the government expects to reach eighty-thousand.

In 2013, the country received 2,851,000 foreign travellers, which is a slight increase of 0.5% (14 thousand more people) with respect to 2012. Canada was once again the leader tourist producer to Cuba. In the last twelve months, almost 1,000,106 Canadians visited the island, which is a lot more compared to other visiting countries such as England, Germany, France, and Italy.

According to the National Office of Statistics, last year’s tourism revenues were of 1,803 million Cuban pesos. Cuba operates three cruise terminals, seven marine terminals, and ten international airports. Currently, there exist 26 companies, 12 of which administrate 15 hotels. Recently, two important hotel chains entered the country. Among them was NH hotels, which came back to operate the recently re-opened Capri Hotel.

The new foreign investment law included tourism as one of the high priority sectors of the cuban economy, and according to José Reinaldo Daniel, business director at Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism, it is imperative to further develop the country’s touristic capacity. The creation of mixed companies dedicated to the construction and operation of hotels is among the next objectives, as well as the real-state development of golf courses.

The renovation of the “Manzana de Gómez” already started in Havana. There, a luxurious hotel will be built. Moreover, there is a plan to establish a millionaire investment program to renew the Packard and Regis hotels.

What are the most luxurious and striking hotels in Havana? PanamericanWorld will give you a tour of ten installations located in three key spots of Havana's geography: El Vedado, La Habana Vieja (the Old Habana), and Miramar.

El Nacional (5 stars)

The National Hotel is one of the most famous hotels in Cuba. It shines because of its eclectic architecture that mixes Art Deco and Neoclassical styles. Its location is privileged, as it is built in a promontory next to the sea known as “La Loma de Taganana”, in el Vedado. In the 1930s and 1940s, celebrities such as Johnny Weismuller (the cinema’s Tarzan), Eduardo VIII (Prince of Whales), Jack Dempsey, Buster Keaton, Errol Flynn, Einston Churchill, Nelson Rockefeller, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gadner, Sir Alexander Flemming, among others, stayed at this hotel. After an impasse due to a victory of the Revolution, it reopened its doors to international tourism in 1974. Since then, the hotel has hosted the most important events in Cuba, such as the Ibero-American Summit (Cumbre Iberoamericana) of 1999 and some of the many editions of the New Latin American Cinema international festival. Between 2003 and 2009, and later in 2011, the hotel was awarded the World Travel Award, a prize considered the Oscar of international travel and tourism. 

Habana Libre (5 stars)

The current Habana Libre was, for a little less than a year, the Habana Hilton. In the Cuba of the 1950s, president Fulgencio Batista was one of the sponsors of this millionaire project, which opened its doors the 22nd of March of 1958. It its time, the Habana Hilton was considered the tallest (25 floors) and the biggest (ten thousand squared feet) hotel in Latin America. Inside the hotel, there used to be a shopping centre and a casino. However, on the 11th of June of 1960, differences between the hotel’s directives and Castro’s revolutionary government led to the nationalization of the hotel. Shortly after, the hotel got its current name: Habana Libre. 

Capri (4 stars)

During the fifties, the “Capri” was one of the most famous hotels of Havana. Since they had big business in the Cuban capital, it was the United States mafia’s favorite. For instance, the hotel’s casino was controlled by Santo Trafficante Jr, a member of the organization. This place is now the famous “Salón Rojo” (Red Room), a night club. The Capri is located in the center of El Vedado, close to the National Hotel and the Habana Libre. The hotel was inaugurated in 1957. In 2003, the hotel’s installations were so damaged that the hotel had to close until the end of 2013. The expensive restoration kept the architectonic essence of the hotel, but added modern elements. This hotel is a property of the “Gran Caribe” chain, owned by Cuba’s Ministry Tourism. Nonetheless, its administration is shared with the spanish company NH, which decided to come back to Cuba after years of absence. 

Saratoga (5 stars)

The Saratoga Hotel is placed in one of the most transited places in the Old La Habana: the intersection of “Paseo del Prado” and “Dragones” street, in front of the “Parque de la Fraternidad”, and very close to the National Capitol. The hotel has 96 bedrooms and it is known by its eclectic architecture, with some neoclassical elements. It was inaguarated in 1933, but it was closed for many years and it only reopened its doors in 2005. The hotel’s windows are made of French carpentry, and its balconies offer an ample view of the Cuban capital. In 2013,  famous singer Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, stayed  at the hotel. The celebrity couple’s stay caused a lot of excitement in Cuba and southern Florida.

Santa Isabel (5 stars)

This hotel is very close to the “Malecón” and in front of the historic Plaza de Armas (Weapons’ Square) in the Old Habana. It is one of the most striking hotels in the cuban capital because, unlike others, it is a mansion of the eighteenth century that belonged to the Santovenian Earl, a member of the Cuban royal family. The mansion was restored, and it is now a mix between the charm of the old world and some modern elements.

The property has three floors and only 27 bedrooms. As soon as you enter the lobby, you can feel in a different time, thanks to the crystal lamps of the old house. The Santa Isabel Suite has received famous guests such as the ex president of the United States; Jimmy Carter, actor Jack Nicholson, and singer Sting. The prices at this hotel are one of the highest of all Cuban Hotels. 

Parque Central (4 stars)

The Parque Central Hotel (now administered by the company Iberostar), is located, as it name implies, on one of the most visited spots of the Old Habana: Parque Central (Central Park). This hotel combines the colonial spanish style with the most modern services. It has 427 bedrooms distributed in two buildings that are joint by an underground tunnel. Its geographical position is desirable because it is close the the Capitol, the Garcia Lorca Theater, and the boulevards of Obispo and San Rafael. 

Ambos Mundos (4 stars)

The Ambos Mundos (Both Worlds) might not have the luxury of its neighbours in the Old Habana, but it sure has a magnificent location (at the Obispo Boulevard), which was one of the most visited places by the american Ernest Hemingway, winner of the Literature Nobel Price in 1954. “Papa” as they used to call him, lived in Ambos Mundos between 1932 and 1939. The hotel has 52 bedrooms and its lobby is almost always very lively. It is very easy to find art expositions and sometimes jazz bands there. 

Los Frailes (3 stars)

It is the smallest one in the list, but one of the most originals. In the past, the Hotel “Los Frailes” (The monks) used to be Pedro Pablo Duquesne’s house, captain of the French Navy. Outside of the hotel lies a statue of a thoughtful monk made out of bronce, which provides a glance of what you will find inside. This hotel tries to take guests back in time to a middle ages’ abbey. For this reason, it counts with many more bronze monks, religious altars, and other details that give the place its sui géneris. The hotel is very close to The Plaza Vieja (Old Square) and of the San Francisco de Asís Convent in the Old Havana

Meliá Habana (5 stars)

The Meliá Habana is one of the most luxurious hotels in Havana. Its geographical location seems very related to what it represents: it is located in the heart of the residential and business zone of the exclusive neighbourhood Miramar, right across the Miramar Business Centre and next to the coast of the capital. The whole property has ten thousand square meters and 9 floors. Its pool is the biggest one out of all city hotels in Cuba.

Quinta Avenida (5 stars)

This luxurious hotel is located close to one of the most important avenues in the city: Quinta Avenida (fifth avenue), in the exclusive neighbourhood of Miramar. This hotel opened its doors in 2010. It is different from the others in the list because it counts with a calmer ambience, as not in the busy area of the city but a little farther away. The hotel is close to the Miramar business centre and to the Meliá Habana. 

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