Hotel Habana Libre
The 416-foot-tall Hotel Habana Libre (Free Havana Hotel, Calle L, e/ 23 y 25) was once the place to be after opening as the Havana Hilton in April 1958. Castro even had his headquarters here briefly in 1959. For years the hotel teemed with shady foreigners—many of them, reported National Geographic, “not strictly tourists” and all “watched by secret police agents from the ‘ministry,’ meaning MININT, the Ministry of the Interior.”
Hotel Tryp Habana Libre is fronted by a spectacular contemporary mural—Carro de la Revolución (the Revolutionary Car)—by ceramist Amelia Peláez, made of 525 pieces in the style of Picasso. The modernist lobby contains many fine contemporary art pieces, including a mosaic mural by René Portocarrero.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition