We’ve recently returned from a twin centre holiday with Thomas Cook (3 days in Havana, 11 days in Varadero).
The NH Parque Central is a very good hotel, thoroughly deserving of its Cuban five-star status.
It is excellently located overlooking Parque Central near to most of Havana’s major tourist sites.
The Capital Building, Revolution Museum, Cathedral and Old Town Square are all within a ten to fifteen minute walk from the hotel.
The buffet breakfast was excellent, as was our room overlooking the park.
The rooftop swimming pool is a real oasis after day’s sight-seeing, affording beautiful views over the city. Snacks and drinks were readily available at a reasonable price.
Money exchange is Government controlled and therefore airports, banks and hotels supposedly offer the same exchange rates. Although at times a little slow, we found the best place to exchange money was in the hotel foyer (where the rate of around 1.36CUCS = £1.00 was a few pesos better per pound than in Varadero).
Havana was very hot (with high humidity) at the end of August, so drink plenty of water. There’s a small kiosk just to the front and left of the hotel (1.50CUCS for a large bottle) or use the small supermarket in the precinct, also to your left.
The Cubans are delightful – warm, friendly, smiley.
Havana is a real time-warp; a wonderful city to explore.
Print off a Google map of the Old Town – it’s all you’ll need to find your way around.
It is a very safe, non-threatening city, even at night, so get out and explore the back streets of the Old Town for yourselves.
El Floridita is two minutes away – enjoy a strawberry daiquiri, Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite tipple.
From El Floridita walk down Obispo. Obispo runs down to the Plaza de Armes (10 minutes walk) – an excellent street for lively bars and restaurants.
About three quarters of the way down Obispo is San Ignacio. Turn left into San Ignacio and you are one minute from Cathedral Square (El Patio Restaurant in the square is atmospheric and serves good food). Just round the corner from El Patio is the tiny La Bodeguita bar where Hemmingway enjoyed a mojito or two.
If you turn right off Obispo into San Ignacio walk for about ten minutes to Plaza Vieja (Old Square). In the corner of the square is a brewery making its own excellent dark beer, served in a six-pint tube on your table if you’re really thirsty!
A must for everybody – see the concierge in the NH Parque Central and ask for a chauffeur-driven old convertible car. For 30CUCS for one hour (about £22) we saw the rest of the city. Within five-minutes of the phone call Amram turned up in a red and gold 55 Chevrolet convertible. He drove us through Havana New Town to Revolution Square, Christopher Columbus Cemetery, past John Lennon’s statue and down to the National Hotel. Amram enjoyed a drink with us in the bar, explaining to us the history of the hotel and its guests. We finished off with a drive along the Malecón and back to the hotel. It was the best 30CUCS we’ve ever spent!
For those wanting to try the famous Cuban cigars just walk straight through Central Park and past the Capital Building. Turn right at the end of the Capital Building and in front of you is Tabacas Partagas (an ornate cream and maroon building) – five minutes away. Tours and a shop open daily from 09.30.
Next door to the Cigar Factory is a fenced-off area. It’s a ‘graveyard’ for rusting American trains – for 1CUC the guy on the gate let us in to take some fun photos!
After three fantastic days, we’re off to the Iberostar Laguna Azul, Varadero – a two hour drive away.
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- Also Known As:
- Parque Central Hotel Havana
- Nh Parque Central Hotel Havana
- Parque Central Havana
- Nh Parque Central Havana