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.
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.
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.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- 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