Entered via giant brass-studded carriage doors,
Hotel Conde de Villanueva (Mercaderes #202, esq. Lamparilla, tel. 07/862-9293, fax 07/862-9682, www.habaguanexhotels.com, from CUC95 s, CUC140 d low season, from CUC110 s, CUC175 d high season) is an exquisite conversion of the mansion of the Conde de Villanueva. The spacious lobby-lounge, with its bottle-green sofas and blood-red cushions, terra-cotta floor, and beamed ceiling with chandeliers, opens to an intimate courtyard with caged birds and tropical foliage. It has nine large, airy, simply appointed rooms and one suite (with whirlpool tub) with 1920s reproduction furnishings. There’s a small restaurant and bar, plus Internet. The hotel aims at cigar smokers with a Casa del Habano outlet and smokers’ lounge.
Hotel Florida (Obispo #252, esq. Cuba, tel. 07/862-4127, fax 07/862-4117, www.habaguanexhotels.com, from CUC85 s, CUC130 d low season, from CUC100 s, CUC160 d high season) is a compact colonial charmer built around an atrium courtyard with rattan lounge chairs, stained-glass skylight, and black-and-white checkered marble floors. Sumptuously furnished, its 25 rooms feature tasteful colonial decor including marble floors and wrought-iron beds. The restaurant is elegant and has above-average cuisine, while the upstairs piano bar is a marvelous place for evening cocktails.
Immediately behind the Hotel Florida, and part of the same building, is the upscale Hotel Marqués de Prado Ameno (Obispo #252, esq. Cuba, tel. 07/862-4127, fax 07/862-4117, www.habaguanexhotels.com, from CUC85 s, CUC130 d low season, from CUC100 s, CUC160 d high season). The restored 18th-century mansion has 16 stylishly furnished rooms, all with modern bathrooms. A bodega (colonial-style bar/restaurant) will whisk you back 200 years. Lovely!
On Parque Central, Hotel Telégrafo (Paseo de Martí #408, esq. Neptuno, tel. 07/861-1010, fax 07/861-4744, www.habaguanexhotels.com, from CUC80 s, CUC130 d low season, from CUC95 s, CUC160 d high season) melds its classical elements into an exciting contemporary vogue. It has 63 rooms with beautiful furnishings and trendy color schemes, including sponge-washed walls and bare stone, plus marble floors and classy bathrooms. The hip lobby bar is skylit within an atrium framed by colonial ruins.
The Hotel Mercure Sevilla (Trocadero #55, e/ Prado y Zulueta, tel. 07/860-8560, fax 07/860-8875, www.accorhotels.com, CUC99 s, CUC149 d low season, CUC154 s, CUC201 d high season), built in 1924, is famous as the setting for Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana (Wormold stayed in room 501). The lobby is straight out of 1,001 Arabian Nights. Its 178 rooms are done up in ocher and red color schemes, with antique reproductions, but are rather modest and overpriced. The sumptuous top-floor restaurant serves continental fare. There’s a tour and car rental desk, swimming pool, four bars, assorted shops, plus an Internet café and WiFi in the lobby.
Hotel Santa Isabel (Baratillo #9, e/ Obispo y Narciso López, tel. 07/860-8201, fax 07/860-8391, www.habaguanexhotels.com, from CUC190 s, CUC240 d year-round), a small and intimate hostelry in the former 18th-century palace of the Count of Santovenia, enjoys a fabulous setting overlooking Plaza de Armas (some rooms face the harbor). The hotel has 27 lofty-ceilinged rooms furnished with marble or stone floors, plus four-poster beds, reproduction antique furniture, plus leather recliners on wide balconies. Suites have whirlpool tubs. There’s an elegant restaurant and two bars. A recent guest list read like a Who’s Who—former President Jimmy Carter, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and Sting. Still, plumbing has been an issue, many rooms have mold, and readers report that staff are indifferent, which makes the rates all the more outrageous.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition