Jessica Gutierrez was invited to spend two nights at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana.
I got in into the lobby of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba at about 6pm and was quickly ushered to my room by the bellboy. I wasted no time and wandered back down from room 209 to the gardens and grounds, which are fantastic. A nice gentleman from the United States offered to buy me drink; he’d been at the Hotel for 6 days and offered to show me around the pool and gym areas. The whole look of the Hotel Nacional struck me as “old world”, nothing like the 5 star hotels nearby or maybe just a little bit similar to the Hotel Habana Libre in style but, alas, maybe not function.
Stunning views can only really be obtained from the gardens, since the pool is kind of sunken down into the back of the hotel. The whole experience is a bit like stepping back in time I guess. As I was reviewing the Hotel I stayed in two rooms but both looked and felt tired, carpets are soiled and, in general, were in need of some serious modernization. However, if your time is spent in the other areas of the hotel, the rest is very good indeed.
The hotel has this looming mystique about it, impressive to look at from the outside with its great terrace to the rear which overlooks the Havana Malecon. My American friend and I found two comfortable places to sit and enjoy our evening cocktail. The lobby of Hotel Nacional is extremely impressive indeed, maybe a bit too extravagant based upon the rooms you end with but, once again, this hotel is all about the general “feel” of the common areas than being stuck in your room.
I hadn’t been to Old Havana for quite a while so, as I know it well, I took with my American friend the following day. This gave the hotel time to put me in my north facing room (they moved all my bags and stuff as a courtesy). We spent all day wandering around Old Havana and then had ice-cream at the Coppelia which is just up the Rampa Avenue that borders the eastern flank of the hotel Nacional. Once back at the Hotel I went straight to my (new) room to change and freshen up. My first impression of this north facing room was – WOW – what views! The same old tired décor as the other room but, brightened up by the setting sun and, of course, that panoramic view of the Malecon. If you decide to stay at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, I highly recommend getting a north facing room.
Overall, this hotel sells because of the glorious 50s (I wasn’t alive…), times past and infamous historic guests. If you are looking for a polished functional room and latest technologies, then sadly, you should look elsewhere. However, if your time at the hotel is mainly spent wandering around and chatting (like I did) this hotel is a peach.
BTW – You can now book all Cuban Hotels through our website, we chose the best options, low rates and payment in 32 currencies. When you book it helps us create more reviews!
You notice right at the front door that the La Cascada Paladar is a place where you can find something for everyone and an amazing selection of dishes. Ideal for either romantic encounter or simply a quick lunch in their beautiful courtyard. La Cascada is owned by Aliosmar Pérez with whom I met and discussed the Paladars rise to fame in Havana. He told me he names his restaurant after Chinese pictorial art of which he is an avid collector.
Chef Huang Guo Shu offers a varied menu of Chinese, Cuban, Spanish and Arab food which looks delicious of the photos however I only tried the jerk chicken Cuban style. The other numerous patrons seemed extremely happy with the food as I noted while there.
The bar’s specialty is the famous Mojito Cascada—a classic Cuban mojito with a cascade of red wine, quite frankly, although not sounding too delicious the mixture of the rum and wine, it was actually very nice. Entertainment was great with singers (both patrons and staff), TV karaoke and video clips playing on the two large TVs in the dining area.
Address: 5th Ave. between Calle 188-192, Miramar Havana
My Review of Club Havana Miramar was done just before the one at Parque Josone Varadero for our sister site VaraderoReviews.com but, it’s only now that I’ve gotten round to submitting it. Sorry…
First off, those of you who know me are aware I play a – mean – game of tennis, in fact outside of swimming, it’s my favorite sport. That’s why reviewing Club Havana Miramar was an ideal opportunity for me to brush up on my game. But we´ll get to that later.
Club Havana is a private Club that is minutes from all the hotels listed below and charges an admission fee to enter. The 25 CUC entrance fee is so small compared to the value of this place that it borders on the ridiculous for what you get. Some hotels like the Palco actually include Club Havana admission in their room rates, so if you feel you’d like to spend some time here after reading my review of Club Havana Miramar, you could always book at Hotel Palco and get in every day for free!
Firstly a bit of history…
During the 20s to 50s the building that is now Club Havana Miramar was the Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club, founded in 1928. Back then the Biltmore was an upper class venue where the aristocracy of Havana would send their kids to learn to swim, sail, row and learn other nautical activities. Parents were able to socialize with other members while their kids took lessons.
The Biltmore in Havana was part of the Biltmore property empire which still includes the Biltmore Hotel in Miami. However, since the Cuban revolution, the property was left in disrepair until the early 1990s when Abraham Maciques, a personal friend of Fidel Castro and founder of both Cubalse and the Palacio de Convenciones (Havana’s convention center) took a liking to the dilapidated property and decided to create the Club situated here today, Club Havana Miramar.
So there are no beaches in Havana?
I thought I’d start by dispelling this myth. As we all know, there are Havana’s Eastern Beaches of Megano, Santa Maria del Mar, Guanabo and Tarara. But, these are at least 25KM from Havana’s center where most tourists are likely to be staying. Club Havana’s little secret is that it has the ONLY beach in the center of Havana and, as you can see from my photos, it’s a nice beach at that.
Not very large but it’s a natural beach which offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities beyond the nautical activities offered at Club Havana which include; fully PADI certified dive center, jet skis, Catamarans, Kayaks and peddle craft.
Restaurants at Club Havana
I ate at the amazing Chelo restaurant situated in the main building which is a proper dining experience and proper dress code is required.
Probably better to visit for a formal/romantic lunch or dinner. Nevertheless, there’s the beach restaurant situated next to the two large swimming pools and is better for informal snacks and excellent full-on meals. It’s an open restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Club Havana Swimming Pools
There are two large pools at Club Havana, one is a rectangular Olympic style pool while the other is an irregular shaped pool, typical of Vacation resorts, being ideal for kids and adults of all ages.
Gym, Sauna and Jacuzzis
Let’s start by saying that Club Havana has probably the best gym I have seen in Cuba. It’s the first building you come to as you enter the Club on the right and, offers a myriad of weight machines and abundant free weights. There’s a great juice bar at the entrance where I sinned and decided on my daily “Red Bull” fix instead of one of the many natural “made-to-order” blended fruit juices.
The male and female changing rooms are enormous and include lockers, free towels and powerful showers. A door from these leads to the semi covered Jacuzzis and enclosed Sauna Rooms.
Tennis and Racquetball
Yes!! One of my favorite games is the centerpiece of Club Havana.
The Club has two full size Tennis courts and two outdoor Racquetball courts which are accessed from the back door of the changing rooms. The courts are standard cement based but, ideally have the natural fine coating of sand us tennis players enjoy when playing on this type of court. The male tennis coach and I played two games and then I retired for a spot of sunbathing…
The beach at Club Havana
At the back of the main building is a longish white sand beach with ample sun beds and parasols. While not wide, compared to beaches out in the eastern part of Havana, it’s just perfect to sit and relax. There’s a small thatched snack bar at the far end which is ideal for a quick refreshing drink.
It appears to me that Club Havana is badly publicized. Or maybe the “eliteness” of the Club is better for it having few guests? If you are staying at any of the hotels listed below you’re just minutes from Club Havana and your “day at the beach” in Havana. Admittedly, there’s an entrance fee (unless you’re staying at the Hotel Palco) but, its small change for what you get so, I highly recommend this place if you are looking to spend a day at the beach in luxurious surroundings with a pinch of snobbishness
HavanaReviews.com – Havana Reviews Team
*Hotels near Club Havana Miramar
Hotel Palco – Includes Free Admission
Occidental Monte Habana – Free Bus
Hotel Quinta Avenida – Within Walking Distance
Hotel Occidental Miramar – Free Bus
Hotel Acuario – Within Walking Distance
Hotel Comodoro – Within Walking Distance
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Address: Prado 603 esquina Dragones | Old Havana, Havana 10200, Cuba
The HavanaReviews.com team stayed at the Hotel Saratoga Havana this year and it’s definitely one of Old Havana’s best hotels. Somehow the staff seems to get the guest experience just right despite being rather cold in their demeanor with guests, compared to more jovial Cuban Hotels. Of course the Hotel Saratoga Havana is a 5 star property and as such the staff may simply be applying the formal rule with guests. However, after the HavanaReviews.com team had stayed at other hotels in Old Havana, the Hotel Saratoga Havana seemed almost clinical in its efficient but devoid of character services. The rooms are all quite large even the standard room and our overlooked the street onto the recently renovated Capital Building. The washrooms are oversized and the best we have ever seen in any hotel in Havana. The Saratoga’s king size beds are comfortable and not too hard or soft and the room sound proofing is perfect, especially when you consider that the hotel is situated on one of Havana´s busiest intersections.
Room service is fairly priced for this type of hotel and our room was kept in good shape during our two night stay. The room included breakfast and what a breakfast! This is probably the best assortment we´ve seen at any Cuban hotel and, even North American hotels would find it hard to compete with what’s offered here. The rooftop pool and fitness center has great views over Havana down to the seafront. The bar on the Mezzanine level is a great place to have a few drinks before visiting the town.
Our stay at the Hotel Saratoga Havana was one of the most expensive we’ve experienced in Cuba. Nonetheless, if you are looking to stay in Old Havana, want absolute luxury and service plus, have the money, then it’s going to be very, very hard to get anything better than this hotel. The Parque Central Hotel competes on star rating but somehow misses the spot in regard to the attention to detail offered at the Hotel Saratoga Havana. It’s hardly perceivable but it’s there, and if you stay here you’ll understand what we mean.
The Hotel Saratoga Havana is within walking distance of every Old Havana attraction; therefore location is a non issue. It also has unique views out onto the Capital Building and the bustling streets of Old Havana.
Hotel SARATOGA Havana is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Address: Galiano 1, La Habana 10400, Cuba
The HavanaReviews.com team stayed at Hotel Deauville Havana for one night. The Hotel Deauville Havana is best considered for its location and extremely low price. Yes, the Deauville is a total bargain for its prime Malecon location, views, swimming pool & overall price; though for aesthetics & luxury you should look elsewhere.
East & West it overlooks the wide sweep of the Malecon, Northward is the huge expanse of ocean and the romantic Morro Castle and its famous lighthouse. The South facing rooftop pool terrace has a wide view of Central Havana and the whole City.
Being on the main Havana Malecón sea front axis it is excellently located for visiting Old Colonial Havana and the more modern Havana areas of Vedado and Miramar. And there is of course plenty to experience on the very popular seafront and backstreets off Galiano & San Lázaro Avenidas.
Even though the exterior and rooms of the Deauville Hotel were renovated in 2011 the hotel is a little tired but, again, the price and location is why you´d choose the Hotel Deauville Havana.
In 2012 the new hotel manager has introduced live music every night in the lobby bar.
On the first floor there is a restaurant called “Costa Norte”, stylishly decorated with tables facing the sea. Hotel Deauville was formerly known as Hotel BelleVue Deauville and Hotel Hotetur Deauville but is now under the management of a Spanish hotel chain who’ve made the hotel sparkle.
Hotel DEAUVILLE Havana is one of the few hotels that does not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Callejon del Chorro # 60-C | Plaza de la Catedral, Habana Vieja, Havana 30600, Cuba
Highly recommended by HavanaReviews.com this restaurant for tasty food you can trust. Each meal is well seasoned and you’ll enjoy every course!
The HavanaReviews.com team had heard that they served piña coladas inside a fresh pineapple so we tried this and it was excellent with some white Cuban Rum!.
HavanaReviews.com advises booking before you go, we booked 3 days in advance and then when we were there we booked for the next night. We saw many others being be turned away because it’s that popular!
The owners are lovely, made the effort to come out and introduce themselves to the HavanaReviews.com team that’s the main reason we ate there again.
As visitors will attest, it makes a difference to feel valued!
Therefore, Dona Eutimia is highly recommend if you want something that typical English people like but with Cuban flavor!
Address: Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba
The HavanaReviews.com team stayed at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in September 2013. The hotel plays on its history quite a lot and most common areas of the hotel feature photos of its famous visitors. It took us about an hour to scour the hotel to find some of its memorable and often infamous guests which included: Mickey Mantle, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Jorge Negrete, Agustín Lara, Rocky Marciano, Tyrone Power, Rómulo Gallegos, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando and even Ernest Hemingway. Photos of all these people (and many more contemporary stars) are just about everywhere. However, the hotel needs to use its history to camouflage the present. Despite being structurally in good shape the Hotel Nacional de Cuba is in need of a serious makeover, especially in the rooms and common areas. Most guests like us decide to gravitate towards the outside terrace and the sprawling gardens which look out onto the Havana Malecon and turquoise Caribbean Sea. Once back inside the hotel and your room, the hotel is showing its age in both décor and design.
Nevertheless, the hotel continues to be a big hit with those wishing to stay in this mythical building and the “I’ve stayed there” crowd, however, if you are looking for 5 star luxury you should look at some of Havana’s more modern Hotels like the Melia Cohiba or the Parque Central, neither of which offer anything even close to the history of Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
The hotel boasts its enhiesta (national tree species of Cuba ) palm tree lined entrance Boulevard. Its classic colonial-style architecture mingles perfectly with the most authentic Cuban flavor.
Old Havana is a short taxi-ride away although we walked and it took us about 15 minutes. Two of Havanas most famous jazz clubs are within eyesight of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the Gato Tuerto and the La Zorra y el Cuervo. The Hotel Capri’s Salon Rojo cabaret is literally outside your front door.
If you would like to live and breathe 50´s stars and villains, then you should spend at least one night at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba while staying in Havana. Don´t get us wrong, the hotel is perfectly ok to spend your whole time at but, if you prefer modern amenities you should consider one of the newer hotels close by.
Hotel NACIONAL DE CUBA Havana is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
We headed over to the Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana with little trepidation; we at HavanaReviews.com team were not too sure how one of Havana’s first All Inclusive hotels was going to pan out. Until now only two hotels in Havana have offered All Inclusive, both are way outside the city, Hotel Acuario at the Marina Hemingway and the second is even further out, towards Mariel, called Coco Mar. Both cater to the low end, whereas, this behemoth of a Hotel in Havana’s chic Miramar area could be a deal changer for hotels and hospitality related businesses like restaurants in Havana. As we all know, all-inclusive hotels tend to have a direct (and negative affect) on surrounding businesses and boy, there are a lot of paladares in Miramar.
First off, the Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana is a new hotel, which means it’s still looking fresh-out-of-the-box, both inside and out. The gardens are still growing and the whole place seems like a large characterless artistic impression. We are all too familiar with how hotels get better with age, especially as they gain character and nooks and areas of the hotel gain popularity. Don’t get us wrong, the Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana is a beautiful hotel in a beautiful area of Havana, it just feels “very” new and little synthetic, especially after us having spent some time at the Hotel Presidente, immediately before this one. The hotel features 186 rooms and two restaurants, various bars and a health center/gym. The rear viewing platform and outside areas are nice but again, this hotel is essentially far away from the nearest beach and, as such, should be considered a city hotel with a large pool. The rooms are spacious and brightly decorated with wrought iron furniture and excellent beds. The six story building makes good use of its lifts… especially at breakfast time when on two occasions we simply walked down the stairs as the wait was too long. The breakfast is excellent and varied and, while the hotel is mainly all inclusive, we´d visited with only breakfast included as we know several excellent paladares in the immediate area.
Getting to Havana center and Old Havana is very simple as a free shuttle is offered to guests with numerous pick-up and drop-off times throughout the day and even up to 11pm. However, if you are staying in Miramar, you also have to gastronomical wonders close by and, as such, it will be shame to miss all these due to your all-inclusive plan, the choice is yours. The only real entertainment close by is the National Aquarium or the Tropicana Cabaret. If you are looking for a beach, the only one available is at the (entrance fee payable) Club Habana which is a short distance from Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana.
The hotel is managed by Gaviota and our experience with Gaviota Hotels is exemplarily, Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana is no different. “Clockwork” is a good analogy.
Overall, Hotel Quinta Avenida Habana is a good hotel, it will suite you if you have kids, are single and enjoy Miramar´s amazing nightlife and, on both counts, have little interest in Havana’s Old quarter.
Hotel QUINTA AVENIDA Havana is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Address: Neptuno e/ Prado y Zulueta, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba
The HavanaReviews.com team stayed at the Hotel Parque Central Havana which now incorporates a new section called “Torre” which combines the elegance of the Spanish colonial style with the latest modern services and facilities. Our team used the WiFi at Hotel Parque Central and found it to be the fastest we´ve ever experienced in Havana. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel this service can be paid and used in the comfortable lobby area when you wish. The Hotel Parque Central is surrounded by numerous renowned buildings such as the Capitol Building and the Theater Garcia Lorca, famous for its excellent ballet shows. Walk for just 2 minutes and you’re at the Cathedral of Havana, the bustling Arms Square, numerous street vendors & shops, museums bars and the world famous daiquiri bar Floridita.
The Hotel Parque Central Havana swimming pool, and the terrace with bar/restaurant located on the top floor of the hotel and as such have splendid views of Havana, shared by the majority of meeting rooms and Hotel rooms, including outstanding views of Parque Central and Paseo del Prado. The hotel offers standard rooms, Junior suites and Suites, all of which have similar views of Old Havana. HavanaReviews.com team were given a sumptuous Junior suite with views over Havana’s “love street” called Prado.
Hotel PARQUE CENTRAL Havana is one of the few hotels that does not require prepayment or deposit to Book.