It's a luxury hotel in the centre of Havana with great views of the capital building. On the top floor is an open swimming pool, where you can sit besides the pool at night, sipping rum and coke, looking up at the stars while the hustle and bustle of Havana goes on in the streets.
Neptuno e/ Prado y Zulueta, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba
Google map: bit.ly/fRou4u
This hotel is part of the Habaguanex group which a friend recommended to me. You should pre-book in the UK as you will get a better rate than you will otherwise. Located close to the Plaza Vieja it is an art nouveau style building - we had a beautifully furnished room on the top floor which was vast. Breakfast was good too. It was very tranquil in the first week in November but at peak times it might be less so. Good view from the roof terrace.
Hotel Nacional is well worth just the one night at least. The breakfast is amazing (all world cuisines covered in one room). Mojitos in the garden with bands serenading and the sea view in front - it's an amazing way to start (or end your visit).
Reading reviews of Havana and seeing the repetitious recommendations for the Nacional or the Inglaterra makes me wonder if the reviewers visited anywhere else. OK, so both have a 'history', but then so do several others if you're a Hemingway or Graham Greene buff, but that's no reason to actually stay there. No, in Havana there are two primary considerations: location and functionality.
The Nacional is a characterful hotel which is great to visit and sip a mojito overlooking the Malecon, but it is miles from the centre of things and a taxi ride to everywhere. The Inglaterra is certainly well-located but if you're going to stay on the edge of both the old town and central park there is no better choice than the eponymous Parque Central.
Because of its location you can break your day up and dive back to the hotel between forays; a major benefit when it's hot and humid. It's modern (translation: the architecture is out of step with the fine old buildings around it) and so everything works and after a hard day's sightseeing the rooftop pool is THE place for a cooling dip, with fabulous views towards the Capitolio.
We stayed in the wonderful Sevilla Hotel in Havana and then 2 Casa Particulars (people's houses) in Trinidad and then back in Havana. In retrospect I would probably have finished with the hotel as after 2 weeks in Cuba you really need a bit of luxury! The casas are great however, as you get to stay with a proper Cuban family and they love kids.
The Nacional - where else would one stay? The perfectly concocted mojito served on the terrace with the warm breeze off the Gulf of Mexico was a travel moment to savour. Also Hotel Ingleterra is a safe, central bet. Unlike most places in Havana it has the merit of not being on the Ernest Hemingway circuit.
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