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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 probably has 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.
An 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 rest assured that arriving in Havana without a reservation and finding acceptable private lodging in situ is a sure thing.
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