Havana Hotels

If you're interested in exploring colonial Havana, the most convenient and aesthetically pleasing place to stay is La Habana Vieja. More than a dozen hotels, all part of the Habaguanex chain connected with the city's restoration operation, offer lodging in Old Havana. A stay in one of these places means that your lodging expenses help finance the refurbishment of this neighborhood. Hotels in Centro

Habana at the periphery of the old city are close to La Habana Vieja, as well as the paladares and attractions of Centro Habana, Vedado, and Miramar. One of the most unique of these is Hotel Los Frailes, where staff are dressed as Franciscan friars.

Many lodgings are concentrated in the Vedado district, where the otherwise dusty but architecturally splendid Hotel Nacional or the mammoth Hotel Habana Libre reign supreme. The central Hotel Saratoga—across from Havana’s famous Capitolio—is a high-class boutique hotel that sets the standard in Cuba for its superior design, general comfort, and service levels. The Meliá Cohiba and the NH Capri probably have the best services and infrastructure, along with the Meliá Habana; the Château Miramar is a nice smaller option for families. Many of the top hotels, including the Meliá Cohiba, Meliá Habana, Hotel Nacional, Tryp Habana Libre, NH Parque Central, and Santa Isabel have executive floors with separate check-in facilities and business centers with Internet, email, fax, and phone services.

A popular alternative to the main hotels is staying in a casa particular (a private home that rents guest rooms). The opportunity to help individual Cubans directly, as well as the chance to live more like a Cuban, makes this an attractive alternative. Specific private accommodations are difficult to recommend (people go in and out of business rapidly as a result of ferocious taxation), but there are many excellent options, some located in stunning old colonial homes or even stately mansions. The houses are well-kept and often have better facilities than many of the top hotels. Usually rooms come with air conditioners, fans, private bathrooms, refrigerators, and safes, all in good working order. You'll find casas particulares all over Havana, so you still have the freedom to choose which area of the city you want to stay in. Prices vary from around CUC$25–CUC$40 per night and breakfast usually costs an extra CUC$5 per person, invariably consisting of huge platters of fresh fruit, bread, eggs (any way you want), juice, and coffee. While it's difficult to reserve ahead directly with the casa owner, you can book via third-party websites. This is highly recommended, as the best ones fill up quickly. A reliable site is Casa Havana Particular (www.casahavanaparticular), a member of the Cuba Casa Particular Association, where you can read descriptions and see photos of each casa before you book. All the houses on the site have been reviewed by the association's travel team, ensuring quality throughout. Payment is made directly to the casa owner upon departure.

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