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“If you want to get a feel for Havana - it's THE place to stay!”

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Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Ranked #6 of 79 Hotels in Havana
Glasgow
Level 6 Contributor
198 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
“If you want to get a feel for Havana - it's THE place to stay!”
Reviewed 31 October 2011

We stayed here for 4 days in October, as part of two-centre break with The Holiday Place. The Hotel Nacional was one of the grand hotels of the world - and its still pretty good. It has frequented by presidents, hollywood stars, directors and musicians since it opened in 1930. (The President of Ukraine and a very senior Chinese (trade?) delegation were there when we stayed - though sadly not Johnny Depp, whose picture is in the hall of fame). If you want to get a feel for Havana and its rich recent history - it is THE place to stay.

Its not like staying in a modern hotel - more like a slightly faded grand country house. Its has charm and personality. From the impressive entrance, you enter the large reception area, which still has the original spanish floor tiles, mosiac tiled walls, dark wood reception desk and leather sofas. At one end, is the entrance to the Parisian Salon, next to that the historic bar with the 'hall of fame' photos of famous visitors, then a large meeting room (formerly the casino run by the mafia in pre-revolution days). At the other end of the reception area is the grand restaurant, and next to that the Churchill Bar. French doors in the middle open onto the terrace, lined with wicker seats where you can drink mojitos and listen to live cuban music.

The orginal lifts take you to your room (they don't always work - and were slow - but you get there eventually. Our room was on the 4th floor. Every-thing worked. It had a modern bathroom, two huge build-in wardrobes, a drinks cabinet and TV - with enough american channels to keep my teenage son entertained). Shortly after we arrived, room service appeared with a bottle of champagne and glasses in a silver ice bucket and a card (we were celebrating our wedding anniversary).

The 'unmodernised' 2nd floor mentioned by some other reviewers is the 'historic' floor - preserved as it was in the 1930s - and where you can pay a premium to stay in a room once occupied by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Errol Flynn or the mafia bosses.

Service
Very good - all the staff were very friendly and very helpful (except in the Internet lounge). Son was disappointed in the very poor internet connection. It is a problem in Cuba - but other hotels we've been in there do have better connections that don't crash every five minutes - and and cheaper rates.

Food and drink
The hotel has a variety of places to eat - at a range of budgets. We were on a B&B rate and had breakfast in the 'Le Veranda' buffet restuarant on the lower ground floor (overlooking the pool). There was a wide variety of options on offer - fruit, cereal, pastries, bread and toast, eggs etc. This restaurant also opened at lunch-time and in the evening for an all you can eat buffet for a set price (25 pesos per head for dinner).

The pool bar served very good club sandwiches, hamburgers and huge pizzas along with a variety of cocktails and ice-cream milk-shakes. The 'Cine Bar' offered 24 hour service with a similar menu - also available as room service.

On the terrace, the Creole restaurant "La Barraca" served grilled fish, chicken and pork for 11 pesos each. Huge portions - we ordered a meal for three an got a huge basket of chicken - and least two whole chickens in there - along with an enormous bowl of rice and another of black beans. I think ordering one meal between two would satisfy most people.

For our final evening, we decided to eat the grand Comedor de Aguiar restaurant. Three courses, with wine, for three people cost 100 peso (around £70) - very expensive by Cuban standards - but well worth it for the experience of eat where the Cuban govt entertain their guests. The food was good too.

Entertainment
We did the 'historic guided tour' - which takes place at 10am and 2pm each day. Its freeand open to any-one who turns up. The tour explains the history of the building and includes a peek into rooms on the historic 2nd floor (though not the presidential suite as it was occupied) and the bunkers under the terrace which have a small exhibition about the Cuban missive crisis.

We browsed the Cigar shop - where a lady will make you a fresh cigar - or you can buy pretty much any Cuban brand in any size.

We went to a concert of live Cuban music from Compay Segundo - of the famous Buena Vista Social Club. Great musicians! And we went to the Parisian show - a colourful and energetic cabaret in the Tropicana style (but cheaper and didn't require leaving the hotel). Finally, we swam in the orginal hotel pool made famous by Johnny Weissmüller (the orginal Tarzan).

We did find time to leave the hotel and visit the old city. Its a brisk walk along the Malecon to get there - and a short taxi ride back (5 peso in a normal taxi and 10 peso is a classic car).

We loved it.

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with family
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8 Thank SuzieS57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Darlington, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 October 2011

Stayed here in October 2011 for a three day break flying down from Cayo Santa Maria. The hotel was a bit tired through it had a grand reception area and grand restaurant. The outside area with bars was excellent and offered a great view of the sea front all the way along to the great fort/castle. The staff overall were excellent, they were very friendly and couldn't do enough to help. The buffet restaurant for dinner was a bit common and was a hustle and bustle to get food and the staff were a bit dower. The old American soft top cars that were supplied to taxi us around were a hoot. We went the whole nine yards and did the bus tour for a few pesos and then go to the large castle/fort by bus T3 from Plaza Central where they do the nine pm gun fire every night. We also did the old town for shopping and sightseeing this was a bit tiring though. We ate out in the day and evenings in a lovely little restaurant Café El Mercurio in San Francisco Plaza in the old town where the staff and food were brilliant, so if you are ever in Havana give it a try you won’t regret it. Please get the most from Havana, it is a must. Over all Havana is a great place to go with a very low crime rate friendly and accommodating people. We had great fun and enjoyed it all. Well Done Havana.

Room Tip: Try and get a room away from the lifts
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with friends
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6 Thank kipper50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 October 2011

This hotel has a lot of historical significance and it is evident in the photos located throughout the building. I have stayed here twice and while my stay was comfortable there were some snafus. I had to have my room key reactivated every time I left the room and there was some flooding in the bathroom from the bathtub. If your room key doesn't work I recommend going to the club room office for assistance instead of going all the way back to reception on the ground floor.

I think the hotel is well preserved but it's probably hit or miss when it comes to the comfort of the room.

The best part of my stay was enjoying mojitos on the patio in the late afternoon looking out at the water.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled on business
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2 Thank hahohee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level 6 Contributor
102 reviews
42 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 October 2011

The Hotel Nacional is one of Cubas iconic monuments. A copy of the Breakers hotel in Palm Beach it is a massive stone building on a small bluff overlooking the Malicon (seawall) and Atlantic ocean. The hotel, like most in Cuba is rough and worn and has seen better days. Service in the socialist workers paradise is fair to poor. But the room had A/C and the TV, an old tube type got CNN in English. The hotel is full of Canadian and European and Canadian tourist and just a few Americans. Food in the dining is passable, but the Europeans crowd the buffet like a herd of cattle. The location is a five CUC cab ride away from the old part of town (Havana Viaja) where you will spend a lot of time. As most all hotels are state owned, and there fore public property feel free to stop by and use the Internet (eight CUC per hour), visit the rest rooms, or try a Mojito on the expansive terrace even if you don't stay there.

Room Tip: Before you accept a room be sure everything works. Lots of things don't work in Cuba.
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with friends
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3 Thank Theguyin4B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ogmore-by-Sea, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
305 reviews
93 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 263 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 October 2011

Lovely old gem. No longer 5 stars, which is reflected in the price. The hotel was very grand in it's day and still has an air of old time charm and opulence which we loved, but could now do with a facelift, a lick of paint and friendlier service. After reading the reviews, we took a bit of a punt on this place, but it really paid off and we enjoyed it for a short stay.

The room was comfortable with good storage, large bed, clean, well stocked bathroom and had a decent view of the pool and sea. It was very disappointing not to have any tea/coffee making facilities in the room and the outdated air conditioning needs replacing - loud jet engine roar for a slight puff of air, so we left it off otherwise wouldn't have slept.

The hotel has good facilities, 2 decent pools, sun loungers, parasols, shop, art gallery, salon and a good variety of bars which make great cocktails but are overpriced. There are lovely shady arched terrace areas with comfortable sofas which are great for chilling out and you often get serenaded by musicians. Great views around the hotel grounds, overlooking the sea and harbour and plenty of live music which adds to the relaxed atmosphere. There's also a brilliant attraction which people must visit – an underground tunnel area where they kept munitions during the Cuban Missile crisis period. Unique, unexpected but a fantastic free tour which shows the history of the hotel and adds to the charm.

The breakfast was excellent offering a huge variety of hot and cold dishes, everything you might want (despite the embargo) so this was pretty impressive. Apart from the film themed cafe, the restaurants were overpriced so I'd recommend eating outside the hotel as there's plenty of inexpensive authentic places in the area. Lots of tours available in the lobby. Avoid the Tropicanna show – if it wasn't for the bottle of rum you get with the ticket price, it would have been just an expensive tacky cabaret.The city tour was good to get your bearings, especially around the old town area.

Although not top end extravagance, it did feel luxurious and a little more grown up than the usual bland hotel chain. I'd definitely recommend the Nationale for a 5 night stay and it's great if you don't like typically touristy faceless boxes packed with screaming children.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank AllisonTuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leeds
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 October 2011

if you go to varadero,you must visit this amazing city,not enough space here to do it justice,we stayed 2 nights at the hotel nacional de cuba,a national monument,not the most modern hotel in havana but certainly the most beautiful in lovely gardens facing onto the malecon,food music and rum and sights a plenty.

Helpful?
Thank STEVE-LEEDS1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ringwood, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
20 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 October 2011

Stayed here in October 2011 as part of a two centre holiday with Kuoni. Like all things in Cuba its slightly broken but the staff were excellent - they were very friendly and couldn't do enough to help. The maid service was better than anywhere else I've stayed and she even wrote us a goodbye note when we left! We used all three restaurants whilst there and the food was very good and great value. The gardens were wornderful and drinking cocktails whilst watching the old American cars on the promenade was a great way to start the evening. Drinks were very reasonably priced with a couple of cocktails costing around $7 in total (Mohitos were fab). There were a few minor things like the odd light not working but Cuba is like that where ever you go and it's all part of the experience. We would happliy go back there tomorrow and are planning another trip in a year or so.

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Mike R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Property: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Address: Calle 21 y O | Vedado, Plaza, Havana 10400, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Ciudad de la Habana Province > Havana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Family Hotel in Havana
#6 Luxury Hotel in Havana
#7 Business Hotel in Havana
#8 Romantic Hotel in Havana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Nacional de Cuba 5*
Number of rooms: 426
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With an exceptional location in the very center of the city of Havana, facing the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the entrance to the Bay of the capital; with a rich and surprising history, combining: milestones; the validity of our history and national culture, have done that since its inauguration in 1930 has welcomed countless personalities of world history, culture, science, sport and politics. ... more   less 
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TripAdvisor is proud to partner with HotelsClick, 5viajes2012 S.L., TripOnline SA, Cancelon, Evoline ltd, TravelUp, LoveHolidays and Ctrip TA so you can book your Hotel Nacional de Cuba reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Nacional De Cuba Hotel
Nacional De Cuba Havana

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