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.
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