Rising grandly above the Malecón esplanade, the Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a monotholic reminder of the rich Cuban history and culture in Havana, with a nod to its halcyon days in the 1950s.
Built in 1930, the hotel stands on a hillside overlooking the harbour and Vedado (the centre of Havana). The hotel is now one of Cuba’s national monuments and works hard to preserve the splendour and grandeur of yesteryear. Once the mainstay of Havana, the rooms have been graced by such figures as Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, who was famously banned from staying at the hotel. The hotel ‘Cinema’ bar not only has stunning views of Havana, it also serves as a hall of fame of previous visitors and residents.
After being renovated in 1992, the Hotel Nacional de Cuba has attained a 5* hotel rating but let this serve as a note of caution – the 5* hotel rating is not the lap of luxury you would expect – trust me! Whilst clean and immaculately tidy, the hotel is dated and it is evident from the restaurant, lobby and then on to the bedrooms. Don’t let this detract you from a stay here as you really are immersing yourself in to the heart of Cuban history. We stayed 2 nights as part of our travels in Cuba and it was more than sufficient.
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba sits on the opposite side of the bay to the Santa Clara Battery, a UNESCO site, which not only gives amazing views of the city, once stood guard to protect the inhabitants of Havana. One of the original cannons now rests in the gardens of the Hotel.
The Hotel has it’s own outdoor pool which provides much needed respite from the high humidity and heat summer heat. If that’s not your thing, there’s terraced gardens, bars a plenty, buffet restaurants, a full service restaurant and a café.
If like us, you want to experience a slice of tradition and to soak up the history – the Hotel Nacional de Cuba is the place for you. Check in, grab a mojito, sit back and relax. We had fun in Havana and loved the cars, the music – so famed for the Buena Vista Social Club and the dancing – we even checked out Club Tropicana where the drinks really ARE free!
My only tip – Visit sooner rather than later, see how Cuba and Havana is NOW, not how it will be.