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“A Piece of History in Havana”

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Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Ranked #6 of 80 Hotels in Havana
Reviewed 20 March 2012

This is a must-see destination. It has the charm and character of Old Havana. Yes, there are some minor inconveniences, like the electric plugs don't quite fit and the cord sometimes falls out, and maybe the bathroom is a bit small. But overall, it is an experience not to be missed. I was in Room 804 and the decor was updated and lush. The service overall was impeccable. Food was good in every restaurant. This hotel has lots of European tourists and they handle the volume with ease. We were told the hotel was completely booked, and yet, we were accommodated on a personal level with great care. Take the tour of the hotel if you stay there - it is offered at 10a.m. and 4p.m. - it is well worth it, The hotel is an icon in Cuban history since 1930. I will give it 5 stars overall due to the unique historical significance and the experience of being in the place that was THE place during the 40's and 50's when Cuba was the place for Americans to travel.

Room Tip: Try to get a room with a water view - it's spectacular!
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank LeonaMex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 March 2012

The Hotel Nacional is rundown and, although it has interesting history, it may not be the best 5 star hotel in Havana. Everything, the lobby, the rooms, the restaurants were tired and rundown and smelled musty, and it probably hasn't been remodeled since its heyday in the 50s, although their web site states that it has been recently remodeled. The hotel is a long way from downtown; not within walking distance. Other than the hotel restaurants and a tiny gift shop, there are no other restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, shops, or any other attractions nearby. It does, however, sit atop a cliff that overlooks the ocean with a lovely terrace in which you can sit at the end of a long day of touring and enjoy a beverage in the warm breeze.

We booked our tour through InsightCuba, the first company in the US to legally provide tours to Americans to Cuba. They were not honestly forthcoming with information regarding the poor standards of the hotels, saying only that Cuba's standards are not the same as ours in the US. However, Hotel Nacional is a 3-star property, at best. The hotel we stayed at in Trinidad was even worse. (I'll review the Brisas Trinidad del Mar separately.) I am uncertain if it is possible to stay at any of the other 5 star properties, which appear to have been recently remodeled and look nice from the outside, including Parque Central and Hotel Saratoga. We were told by InsightCuba that groups would be smaller than 24 to provide a more intimate experience. However, there are several tour buses of 24 people who we had to coordinate our meals and accommodations with, so we spent a lot of time waiting for those other buses. But the biggest drawback of having a group of 75 or 100 people is the food, which was deplorable and the same boring things at every lunch and dinner. All 9 of us in the group was sick at one point in the trip. As for "people to people" experiences, which InsightCuba touts, it was one long meeting after another, touting the greatness of communism/socialism with rarely the opportunity to interact with anyone on a meaningful level. I expect that the Cubans are afraid of what may happen to them if they speak out about the system. I don't have much good to say about insightCuba and cannot them at this time, although I hope that time and experience will make them better.

Room Tip: The hotel is in horseshoe shape with the inside of the horseshoe facing the ocean. Definitely get a...
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  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank vailworldtraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2012

The Hotel Nacional is a government run hotel close to the waterfront in Havana. It is an impressive building, with an interesting history to match, but fails to live up to it's claim to be a 5 star hotel. It is however a reasonable option if you can't find anywhere better.
Rooms are tired and worn, maybe having been refurbished 15 years or more ago. Bathrooms were functional but old, although they were clean. Reception is bureaucratic, and resembles a government department more than a hotel, particularly on checkout where bills must be paid at the cashier first, triggering a maid to check the mini bar, which results in a signed chit being issued to be handed to the porter to allow check out. Very cumbersome.
Drinks at the bar are variable - a Mojito was CUC 4.00 and sometimes resulted in lemonade with mint; other times with soda water & mint. Rum seemed scarce. Bar sandwiches were good. Breakfast was ordinary, usually with the toaster catching fire or smoking with indifferent staff looking on. An ok place to stay overall if something better isn't available.

  • Stayed: March 2012
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1  Thank GufoPeloso
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2012

Rating hotels like the Nacional is difficult because world standards and Cuban standards are not really comparable. In Cuba, this is a 5 star hotel. But by American or European standards it is probably 3 stars at best. Certainly the historic areas on the ground floor and gardens are magnificent, a beautiful reflection of the 1930s elegance the Nacional has tried to maintain. But the guest rooms are small, the plumbing erratic, the beds are singles which cannot be pushed together for a couple. Toilet paper, always in short supply in Cuba, is minimally available so the guest must constantly ask for refills.

The breakfast buffet could be one of the largest I have ever seen, yet it is heavy on middling quality breads, the coffee dispensers are constantly breaking down, and cutlery can be hard to find at peak hour. Knowing that we were in an underdeveloped country, we were more than willing to suspend our American judgement about the hotel's deficiencies. However, our experience with the laundry sent us over the edge. Halfway into an 11 day trip, we decided we needed to have some clothes washed -- sox, underwear, a few wash & wear shirts. We had been told to leave the laundry on the bed for the housekeeper, which we did. It came back several hours later, fresh and cleaned. But it wasn't until we checked out that were informed the charge was $90. Yes, that's right, $90 for 4 days of laundry. We argued, in Spanish, got conflicting stories on why the charge was so high, but no relief on the cost. And, as Americans, we could not simply charge it to a card and chalk it up to poor communication. We had to use most of our remaining cash to pay the bill.

So, if you want a truly historic hotel stay in Havana, stay at the Nacional and you'll probably find it acceptable. But don't ask for your laundry to be done without getting a confirmed price in advance.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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Thank mrancer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2012

I wouldnt have missed the experience of staying in this hotel for the world. Although jaded (part of its charm in my opinion) it just takes you back in time with Bell Boys and the old fashioned lifts. The architecture is fantastic and it sits in a majestic position overlooking the sea. We used the buffet restaurant and the food was not to my taste but my husband and our friends managed to eat fine. But the hotel does have other restaurants. The breatfast buffet was good with fantastic omelettes freshly cooked. The rooms were very spacious with amazing views of the sea. But for me, the best part of this hotel was sitting outside on the balmy evening people watching.... men in linen suits smoking cigars and ladies dressed for dinner.... all as we sipped the best mojito's I've tasted! Another thing that fascinated me was the obvious ladies who were paid escorts for older gentlemen!!

Tips: Take a travel kettle as there was no tea/coffee making facilities and the hairdryer was barely hot breath!! Apart from that just step back in time and enjoy!

Room Tip: Take travel kettle and hairdryer! Beware helpful locals who then want paying for acting as guide...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Lorraine2608
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2012

Spending our final 6 nights of a tour with my mother and two sisters (my first--usually travel with my husband) it was a luxury not often seen in Cuba. The seaside gardens, comfortable sitting areas for smoking cigars with rum drink in hand, lovely breakfast buffet in the elegantly appointed high-ceilinged upstairs room all made for a feeling of the star treatment. Despite the cold and inefficient reception staff, the other support services were friendly and helpful. The rooms, though not fancy, were comfortable and appointed with everything one needed. The location of the hotel was close to Old Havana--just a short taxi ride away. (Worth it to try one of the old cars waiting at the front of the hotel) Music in the evening was the perfect backdrop for a nightcap or a chance to join in some impromptu dancing. I would be happy to return--next time with my husband--to this romantic spot. Completion of their renovation should be ready by then.

Room Tip: Ask for a room overlooking the front of the hotel or the garden. Although we were able to see the w...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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Thank MarciaDi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2012

Overall: The hotel is old and one of the must see places in Cuba. Was used by Al Capone as one of his hideouts. Everything is as it was in the 50s with of course some modern touches like electricity, air conditioning and so on. Even though this hotel is old it still has an amazing character to it as you feel you are in the 50s still.

4 stars? The hotel is old as above... So don't expect a 4* hotel of EU or US standards. But it's character more than makes up for it! I loved this hotel.

Rooms: Roomy - especially the ones with the two doubles / twins.

Breakfast: Rich and good

Location: 10 minute taxi ride from old Cuba. Get one of the old 50s style taxis. Awesome!

Staff: Most of them are polite. Reception staff speak English. The only drawback I found was that the cleaners walk among the corridors and talk REALLY loud to the cleaner on the other side of the hotel without really respecting right to peace and quiet. Also cleaners don't speak English which wasn't that much of an issue for me with my limited Spanish.

  • Stayed: February 2012
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4  Thank AlexPtraveler
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

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: £158 - £330 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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Also Known As:
Nacional De Cuba Hotel
Nacional De Cuba Havana

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