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“Great first night in Cuba”
Review of Hotel Santa Isabel

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Hotel Santa Isabel
Ranked #19 of 79 Hotels in Havana
Lyon, France
Level Contributor
32 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Great first night in Cuba”
Reviewed 10 August 2014

We stayed here on our first night in Havana/Cuba. Arrived very tired so probably did not appreciate it as much as we could have but loved the fact that the colonial style really suited being in the old Havana. Our room looked out on both beautifully restored Plaza des Armas and onto crumbling buildings where locals lived. Two extremes - both fascinating. Our room (215) was very spacious and the bathroom a good size. Our teenarge daughter was on floor above but felt very comfortable and safe and was not concerned about not being next door to us The air conditioning worked well - essential if you want a good nights sleep. My only criticism is that without it our room smelt of humidity - inevitable given the climate. The staff are very friendly and try their best to provide a high level of service. The restaurant was closed when we arrived but staff advised us to go the restaurant just across the square with great seafood and live music. The breakfast on the terrace overlooking the square is very copious and the perfect place to start observing the book market being set up and watching daily life in old Havana. The hotel is a perfect place to be based to explore the Old Havana.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled on business
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Brighton82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (77)
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English first
Dublin, Ireland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 August 2014

First of all, would like to say that old town Havana is a beautiful place - it is almost like a living museum. It is so strange to see such beautiful (and crumbling) buildings still used as regular houses by regular people, who use the amenities and squares as they were meant to be used. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of hustlers and schemers who drag the place down, hassling and badgering tourists, trying to rip them off etc.

This hotel is old town Havana in a nutshell. The building is beautiful - however, the ethos of this hotel and some of the staff seem to be to hustle and rip off tourists. I guarantee you they will not respond to this post, as i notice they haven't for all the other poor reviews.

1. We booked a terrace room (312), and paid a little extra for the terrace. Room was poor quality for even a 3 star. When we went out to the terrace there was no table or chairs, I went down to reception and asked if we could have some. "Oh no," was the response, "the terrace is closed due to maintenance." There was no sign anywhere stating this, and there was no building/ painting work etc that I could see anywhere! Other rooms had tables and chairs.

2. We went down to the bar and ordered two drinks (a gin and tonic and my partner a mohito). The barman tried to pawn Havana club on me saying a rum and tonic is a much better drink. Twice I had to politely tell him no, gin. He didn't take it too well. When waiting for the drinks, I read my keycard - when you check in you are entitled to two free cocktails at the bar.This was not mentioned by the hotel reception or the barman. When he came down with the drinks I asked him if they were free, and showed him the keycard. He argued with me, saying only the mohito is free (it says this nowhere on the keycard). He then charged me 8 CUC for the G & T!! Bear in mind, the average working wage for a cuban resident is 20 CUC per month.

3. That night, it got unbelievably hot in the room, the AC was terrible. We drank water during the night from the mini bar. We couldn't find a price list anywhere. Still we drank it, we were parched.

4. Next morning we asked for a late check out (check out is 12, we wanted to leave at 4). The lady at the desk said, ohh it's 50 CUC. It was as if she pulled the figure out of thin air (I'm being polite, seemed like she pulled it out of somewhere else). I agreed, and asked if i could convert you euro to peso to cover the cost. She gave an exhange rate of 1.20 to do this. Again, this was written no where and she seemed to pull it out of thin air. Every other hotel we had stayed in in Cuba gave a rate of 1.27 to 1.29 - obviously i declined and walked down to the nearest bank to change my money. When i got back to the checkout, fee had gone up to 52 CUC.

5. Whilst there, a nice Swiss family were checking out. They used the coffee machine, and the receptionist was trying to charge them. Again, there was no price list in their room, nothing to say this wasn't complimentary. They were being charged 6 CUC (again I stress, average cuban wage is 20 CUC per month!). I asked reception for a price list to see how much our water cost, we were also being charged 6 CUC. Crazy stuff.

6. Obviously I argued with them, saying you can't charge people extortionate prices and not highlight these prices in the room. Receptionist started blaming the maid for not putting price lists in the room, not her problem. With that, I walked into the bar, and asked to see a drinks menu - low and behold a G&T was 6 CUC, not 8 - ripped off again. I went back to reception, showed them the menu and told them i was overcharged (despite the fact that really the cocktail should have been free). All they did was give me the 2 CUC back.

If you want to stay in a hotel with very unprofessional reception workers, a dodgy barman, and an ethos to rip off the customer, by all means stay here. Also, service at breakfast is painfully slow - we sat there for 30 minutes waiting for a ham and cheese sandwich when only three tables were occupied (despite there being 4 waiting staff).

We also stayed in the hotel Saratoga in Havana - staff were all very professional, everything was up front, and it was a genuinely pleasant experience.

Room Tip: Don't stay here
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Evan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Havana hotels

Level Contributor
56 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 July 2014

The hotel Santa Isabel has a unique location in old havana and can be used as an excellent home base to explore the city.
It is very comfortable, with helpful staff, and provides a serene start to the day with breakfast on the terrace overlooking the square.

The design and architecture of the hotel is worth a visit alone and I am very happy to have chosen this property, despite a few small defiencies.

Don't expect flawless internet (maybe a good thing on holiday). Do use the safe in the room.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled solo
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 July 2014

We had 2 amazing rooms for the price of a good b&b in UK. Mine had a huge roof terrace, my sons had a suite with 3 balconies. Breakfast menu (included) was extensive and very good. Drinks in the centre courtyard bar equally so. I don't like the area - far too touristy, but a great base to set out from. Very helpful staff. I would rate it far above Hotel Nacional in Vedado

Room Tip: Get the second (one above ground) if you can. But top floor rooms have roof terraces
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Felicity C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dubai
Level Contributor
82 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 June 2014

We had the choice between the Santa Isabel and the other top hotels in Havana. After visiting them all as part of our discovery of the city, I think the Santa Isabel is the nicest:

- Great location in Old Havana where most of the interesting things are
- Very nice breakfast (lot of choice, so we didn't get bored even after 5 days)
- Friendly staff
- Amazing architecture, and very nice room (we got one on the 3rd floor with a shared terrace)

On the negative side, but I don't think it is the hotel's fault specifically, the WiFi connection is erratic (and a bit expensive).

Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank BecharaYen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Belfast
Level Contributor
42 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 May 2014

We stayed here for 3 nights on our honeymoon in April 2014. The hotel is a lovely old building looking over the Plaza de Armas. Our room had a balcony overlooking the square and we loved it.

Breakfasts were plentiful and very tasty, the courtyard bar very atmospheric - even when it rained.

Our room was spacious and comfortable - air con was a treat!

Room Tip: Try and get a room facing the plaza!
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank GrahamBelfast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level Contributor
122 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 April 2014

The Santa Isabel is located in Plaza de Armes and close to all the attractions of old Havana. You can easily walk to the Cathedral, interesting squares and many good restaurants and bars. Our room had a lovely large balcony overlooking the square.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Pat M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Santa Isabel

Property: Hotel Santa Isabel
Address: Calle Baratillo 9, entre Obispo y Narciso Lopez | Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Ciudad de la Habana Province > Havana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#17 Luxury Hotel in Havana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Santa Isabel 5*
Number of rooms: 27
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Traveltool, S.L.U., Travel Republic (UK) and Priceline so you can book your Hotel Santa Isabel 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:
Santa Isabel Havana
Santa Isabel Hotel

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