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Twin Centre Cuba Holiday

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I have an opportunity to visit Cuba at the end of November. My companion and I would like to see spend 4 nights in Havana and combine it with a week relaxing at a beach resort. I'm looking for some advice on hotel recommendations in Old Havana and which resort to pair with it.

Preferrably we're looking for 4 star acommodation, although I understand that differs from European standards, and would be happier not to have to fly between Havana and our next location. I suspect that possibly narrows our options to Varadero or anywhere within 3 hours by road from the capital.

Things are at an early stage of planning so any and all advice is appreciated.

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    Well in Havana, and looking for a great experience, I'd look at any of the "boutique hotels" run by Habaguanex Hotels. Small, intimate and mostly in beautifully restored historic buildings you'll enjoy a great experience.

    http://www.habaguanexhotels.com/

    One of my favourites is the Hotel Conde de Villanueva, and also the unique Hotel Los Frailes which has a superb location right near Plaza Vieja. If you're looking for pure 5-Star luxury, then either the Hotel Santa Isabel on Plaza Armas or the Hotel Santiago across the road from the Capitolio are great. The 4-Star Hotel Florida on Calle Obispo is also a good choice with a wonderful inner courtyard.

    The thing about staying directly in Havana Vieja (Old Havana) is that 75% of the normal sights you'll want to see are within a 10-20 minute walk. That's great for sightseeing, and other things like Plaza de la Revolution are only a $5 to $7 CUC cab ride away.

    Don't take any meal package with your Havana hotel. There are so many great restaurants and places to eat in Old Havana, or Paladares (private restaurants) that you'll want to get out and sample the local fare. Suggestion is Los Nardos, across the street from the Capitolio. Ask your hotel for directions. No reservations are possible so sometimes you have to line up to get in, but worth the wait.

    As to the second part of your vacation, and not wishing to fly somewhere, you're basically limited to Varadero or if you want to avoid the too touristy town setting (my opinion) then consider Breezes Jibacoa, about half-way between Havana and Varadero. Roughly 1 hour east of Havana. Tucked into a quiet cove with good snorkeling right off the beach it's a 4-Star All-Inclusive resort.

    Hope this gives you some thoughts to start your planning.

    Steve

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    We've only been once to Cuba but really enjoyed it. We stayed at the NH Parque Central which is on the edge of Old Havana and very convenient for sightseeing. It will not have the character of the above mentioned boutique hotels. Some friends of mine have just come back from a stag party in Havana and they stayed at the NH Parque Central Torre which has recently been completed, they said it was very nice.

    We had breakfast included in the rate but nothing else as we wanted to eat in paladares.

    Varadero was a bit of a let down after Havana - it is a long flat narrow strip of land with hotels built in rows. But if you select the right hotel on the right part of the beach, it can be very nice. The journey time was about 3 hours if I remember correctly, with a stop for refreshments.

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