In October, my husband and I took advantage of the easing in Cuban travel restrictions for US citizens by visiting for week with Friendly Planet. This was a people to people trip where we visited artists, senior centers, schools, clinics, an organic farm and a suburban housing estate. It was absolutely fascinating to see this country on what hopefully is the cusp of change. We had traveled with Friendly Plant in the past so our expectations were high. We weren't disappointed. Our tour guides ( American and Cuban) were informed and enthusiastic. We had plenty of opportunity to do all the touristy things - visit a cigar factory, the museums in Havana, experience the Santeria culture, Hemingway's hangouts both in Havana and beyond and even to experience an all inclusive resort in Tirnidad. But the highlight for us was the contact with the Cuban people and an up close view of their day to day lives. We were treated to a dynamic lecture from a professor of economics at the University who gave us balanced perspective of where he saw Cuba headed. I cannot recommend this trip more highly. I have traveled all over the world and it irked me that this time-warp island lay off our shore and I couldn't visit. I know it is possible to go there illegally from another country, but it gave me such satisfaction to request that they stamp my passport at passport control (they will only do it for US citizens if you request it).
In Havana we based at the Hotel Telegrafo in downtown Cuba. It is an historic hotel from the pre-revolutionery days but of course completely maintained to 21st century standards. it is much more conveniently located at the center of the bustling life of Havana than the Hotel National which sits a bit outside the center. it also has way more character (the whole history is displayed in photographs around the public areas) than the ultra modern Iberostar hotel across the square.
Friendly Planet did a spectacular job.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- GeneralThe historic city hotel was established in 1860 and was then located on Calle Amistad. Around 1888, it was relocated to its present position on the busy corner of Prado and Neptuno streets. In 1911 the hotel was completely rebuilt, and when it reopened it was regarded by the press of the day as the most modern hotel in the city and ranked amongst the top eleven hotels in Latin America. The hotel of today combines modern and colonial elements in its architecture to create a wonderful unity of present and traditional styles. On offer are a total of 63 comfortable guest rooms with excellent views out over the city. The inner courtyard with the original brickwork of its arches forms an interesting contrast to the new design features. The hotel has a large ceramic mural in the form of a collage, showing elements of Havana's colonial architecture and a fountain which appears to magnify the courtyard and its surrounding ruins. There are 54 standard rooms, three suites, and six junior suites available, in addition to a lobby area with a reception desk manned around the clock, a hotel safe, a cloakroom, a currency exchange facility, and lift access. Guests at this air-conditioned establishment may also take advantage of the restaurant, the snack bar, shop. Also available here is room service (charges apply), a public Internet connection (charges apply), and parking for those arriving by car (charges apply). MasterCard and VISA are accepted as methods of payment.Surrounding AreaA famous institution in Havana since 1888, this hotel has since the early 20th century been considered one of the best in all Latin America. It lies directly beside the beach and is only a few minutes on foot from the ''Museo de Bellas Artes'', the ''Capitolio'', and the ''Gran Teatro de La Habana'', famous for presenting the best opera and ballet performances in the city.Property-InformationThe elegant hotel restaurant specialises in Cuban and international haute cuisine. Its decoration creates a unique place with a classical ambience, ready to welcome guests back at any time. Its appointment with modern furniture creates a timeless atmosphere in the halls with stained glass windows. The restaurant is situated on the ground floor of the building and offers guests a breakfast buffet or an individual breakfast, lunch à la carte, lunch from a set menu (offered for groups), and a set menu in the evening.Room-InformationAll rooms are fitted with an en suite bathroom with a bathtub and hairdryer, centrally regulated air conditioning, a double or king-size bed, cable TV, a telephone, a room safe, a minibar, and either a balcony or terrace as standard. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Telegrafo Hotel Havana
- Hotel Telegrafo Havana