Havana is blessed with accommodations of every stripe. All are run by one of the Cuban government’s five hotel groups, which assigns at least one star too many to its hotel ratings (thus a “four-star” hotel would be considered a three- or even two-star hotel in Europe or North America). After a few years of being overpriced, most hotels are now fairly priced.
The hotels listed have air-conditioned rooms with satellite TVs, telephones, and safes. Casas particulares (privite room rentals) have air-conditioning and private bathrooms, unless noted.
Location is important in choosing your hotel.
Habana Vieja puts you in the heart of the old city, within walking distance of Havana’s main tourist sights. A dozen or so colonial-era mansions administered by Habaguanex (www.habaguanexhotels.com) have opened after splendid makeovers, and there are some good, upscale, business-oriented hotels behind colonial facades.
Centro Habana, although offering few sites of interest, has three budget-oriented hotels close to the Prado and Habana Vieja; Cuba’s state tour agencies push the Hotel Deauville, used by many budget package-tour companies, but this gloomy cement tower is terrible and everyone who stays there has a complaint. This predominantly run-down residential district also has many casas particulares, but safety on the dark, rubble-strewn streets is a concern.
Vedado and Plaza de la Revolución offer mid-20th-century accommodations well situated for sightseeing, including several first-class modernist hotels with modest decor. Vedado also has the best casas particulares.
Playa (Miramar and Beyond) has a number of moderate hotels popular with tour groups, as well as modern deluxe hotels aimed at business travelers. All are far away from the main tourist sights and you’ll need wheels or taxis to get around. One hotel to avoid is the Hotel Neptuno/Triton, dreary siblings that face consistent plumbing and other infrastructural problems.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition