Sunday, July 31, 2005

Hotel Nacional de Cuba Review

After our 10 day stay at Playa Pesquero we flew to Havana and spent 3 days at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

If you're looking for a hotel in Havana or if you've already booked your hotel I'd recommend taking a look at Tripadvisor's Reviews of Havana Hotels. You'll find reviews, photos and ratings of all the hotels written by people who have actually stayed there before. This is definitely worth checking out before you book. I always take a look here before I book a hotel to learn the truth!

Overall I enjoyed staying at the Hotel Nacional. It wasn’t the most modern hotel in the world and wasn’t a 5 star on the same scale as you would find in Europe, but the beautiful historical building and ambience of the place more than made up for this.

The hotel was built in 1930 and renovated in 1992. Over the years numerous famous guests have stayed at the Hotel Nacional, including Winston Churchhill, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway.

The hotel has 457 rooms and 15 suites. We stayed in a standard room which was very spacious, but could have done with a lick of paint and a bit of modernising. You can see a photo of our room below:

Our room in the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana

The room had air conditioning, a marble bathroom with shower, bath and nice fluffy white towels, a mini bar, safe and good closet space. We also had a good view from our window of the swimming pool and the surrounding area as you can see from the photo below.

Swimming Pool at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana

The hotel’s facilities included two good sized swimming pools, 6 bars, a buffet restaurant, fine dining restaurant, American style diner restaurant and a barbeque restaurant, shops, travel agent, money changing facilities.

We had a few cocktails at the Galeria bar overlooking the hotel gardens during our stay. This was a lovely relaxing place to sit – if you go there make sure you have at least one drink here. The Pina Coladas and the Mojitos are excellent and not expensive, although service can be a bit slow at times so don’t go if you’re in a rush!

On our first night we were too tired to go out so ate at the BBQ restaurant in the hotel gardens. The restaurant served barbeque fish and meats and creole style food and was nice enough and not too expensive. We also had lunch at the American diner restaurant while we were there which was good if you are just looking for a decent burger and chips.

The hotel had lovely tranquil grounds with views of the sea, the Malecon and the historical city centre. The location of the hotel isn’t ideal as it’s a few miles from the historical centre and you need to get a taxi there (around 4 cuban convertible pesos) or face a long walk in the sun. If we were to come to Havana in the future we would probably go for a hotel in the centre instead.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana (back view)

My only complaints about the hotel were that the food at the buffet breakfast wasn’t up to much (probably because I was comparing it to the buffet breakfast at Playa Pesquero!). Also, we had a feeling that there were a few dishonest members of staff in the hotel. On the first day I left a tip for the maid. We came back to our room early and the room hadn’t been made up, but the money was gone. We also felt that someone had been rummaging around in our suitcases and each time we returned to the room the door of the cupboard that housed the safe was also open. We locked all our valuables in the safe and didn’t actually have anything stolen, but we definitely noticed something funny going on. 2 other couples that we had met while at Playa Pesquero also had this same feeling. If you are staying here, just make sure you lock up all your valuables.

The rack rates for the hotel start at $170 for a double room, but works out much cheaper if you book it as part of a package deal (for example our 2 week holiday including 10 nights all inclusive in Playa Pesquero, 3 nights in the Hotel Nacional, flights from London and an internal flight between Holguin and Havana came to £880 each

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana (front view)

Visit Trip Advisor's Reviews of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba to see what other people think of this hotel.


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