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Havana hotel questions, and assorted others

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Two of us are hoping to fly to Havana from South Florida, probably in January. We would like to stay in a hotel, not a family home. I see that the Ibero-Star gets good reports on TA, and I recall that several posters here have stayed there. If you have, would you stay there again? Anything you did and did not like about the hotel?

Other hotels you would investigate? Location and pool suitable for swimming laps are important to me.

Our visit will likely be only to Havana and only for a few days. I am thinking 4 nights..how does that sound? Mainly interested in just wandering around, listening to music, taking tour by taxi/private guide to various areas of the city. Or should I keep it to 3 nights, which would include an extra half day on day of arrival??

Food is also an important factor although I have lowered my expectations a great deal. Seems like Italian food can be good in Havana, but I eat everything and anything and will travel for great food. I am not, however, a big fan of Cuban cuisine in general, so open to any and all options. I've looked at the very helpful Havana blog (name escapes me but it has been linked here several times), but would like to get an idea of where those who have been there have dined, and where you all have liked and disliked.

Budget is generous and my Spanish is very good.

It's my understanding that I can buy my ticket on a US airline and that all I need to know about entering the country will be revealed on the airline website after the purchase of the tickets (???)
I do not need to contact any consulates or other venues to get paperwork to enter (??)


What about gifts to take home. I will look for handcrafts. Rum will be a given. Would love to visit some art galleries. But what about cigars as gifts? Where to buy in Havana for non-extortionary price but be assured of good quality, as I myself know next-to-nothing about Cuban cigars. (Used to being them home for Dad from my European trips but he told me the ones for sale at the various duty-frees were often not fresh).


So, so far this trip will not be different in preparation than any other as far as buying tickets, getting relevant visas, and booking hotels which can be paid for with US credit cards online (???)

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