A Havana hotel with a leafy patio serving craft cocktails while the live music vibes. A gorgeous boutique residence serving breakfast alfresco on the roof. A smart hostel, a short stroll from one of Havana’s old plazas. And a stylish bolthole with a beautiful café attached down in the emerging, artsy San Isidro neighborhood.
All these top places to stay opened in Havana just pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, or recently. Here are the reasons why you should check into them all.
The Claxon, facing the broad tree lined Paseo Avenue in upmarket el Vedado, only opened in summer 2022 but the owners put their foot to the pedal and have shaken up the city’s hotel scene! Hotel Claxon has become a go-to destination for live music in the patio and events on the rooftop terrace.
The exquisitely restored wedding cake mansion, dating to 1912, pays homage to Cuba’s American classic cars. All nine rooms are themed by vehicle – Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Pontiac, for example. The motifs continue in the cute vintage vehicles wallpaper, and on cushions featuring old images of the Detroit classics. Rooms in the Havana hotel’s main building come with mod cons, high ceilings and Spanish floor tiles. Behind the garden patio find spacious, sleek junior suites. The restaurant, Fangio, is named after legendary Argentinian racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio kidnapped in Havana in 1958 by anti-government rebels linked to Fidel Castro during the Cuban Grand Prix. Fangio’s menu offers Mediterranean and Cuban dishes. The pork cheeks in green curry are exceptional, and one of the standout dishes in the entire city. Stay for that live music – from the likes of stellar violinist Emy Abreu to maestro of the piano Ernán López Nussa. Settle down at the alfresco tables, partially built from car parts, and make your way through the Claxon’s craft cocktail list.
https://claxonhotel.com/ Rooms from US $220 per night.
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Jesús María 7
Elegant Jesús María 7, close to the bay of Havana, is a hotel in an immaculately restored and furnished large colonial mansion. From the moment the front door opens, and you’re warmly welcomed in, the high ceilings, cool spaces, and calming décor is a balm. This is the perfect urban sanctuary down in the busy, hot streets of southern Old Havana. The rooms are mini palaces themselves – especially the suites with tall wooden window shutters that open on to tiny balconies, beautiful, tiled floors, swanky, comfortable beds, Murano glass pieces, mid-century furniture, and spacious walk-in showers.
Breakfast is prepared on the roof terrace. Tuck into fruit juices, fresh coffee, breads, homemade preserves, avocado, eggs, and tomatoes and listen to the city waking up. It’s so peaceful up there above the hubbub, you might be reluctant to leave. With three suites and a standard room, it’s a winning choice for family and friends. The Havana hotel has a separate two-suite apartment next door. From JM7, it’s a short saunter to street-mural decorated bar Jesús María 20, hole-in-the-wall restaurant Jíbaro, Beyond Roots store selling Afro-Cuban wares, and the Almacenes San José souvenir market.
https://jesusmaria7.com/ Rooms from 90 euro/95 USD per night.
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Residencia Santa Clara
The traditional Cuban casa particular with rooms in a family home has been joined in the last 10 years by boutique hotels and swanky apartment stays. But that sweet spot in between – the smart hostel – hasn’t taken root yet in Cuba. Residencia Santa Clara is the first. The architect-remodelled colonial building climbs a few storeys with rooms, terracing and a rooftop all in the quiet Calle Santa Clara. But it’s only a few blocks from Plaza Vieja with its museums, galleries, shops, cafés, and popular bars.
The heart of the property is the dining area that doubles up as the lobby overseen by the very welcoming family and their kind team who run the place. This street front lobby-cum-dining room, like the rooms, has been boldy and brightly decorated with murals by Cuban graphic artists. Think Nelson Ponce, Edel Rodríguez Molano (El Mola), and Miguel Leyva (MigueLP). Expect to be dazzled. Rooms are expertly designed to maximise space with the shower, basin and toilet hidden behind a set of sliding doors. Supremely quiet and with large comfortable beds and mood lighting, the seven rooms at the Santa Clara make the ultimate Old Havana stay.
https://www.residenciahotels.com/ Prices from 95 euro/100 USD per night.
A|S Boutique Residence
Down in the emerging San Isidro Art District handsome A|S Boutique Residence is a beacon of style run by professional Cuban dancer Sandy Solano Diaz and Dutch-born fashion industry design director, André Visser. The Havana Hotel is in an impressive colonial property that opens into the light-filled HAV Coffee Art café, all concrete tabletops, bare bulbs, and a white-tile counter. The breakfast, served here with panache, is memorable: turkey bacon, avocado, fried eggs, toast, sweetcorn salsa and guacamole, and strong Cuban coffee! Beyond is a seating area with books, magazines, tables, and huge canvases of André’s striking abstract art.
Upstairs, you’ll find an elegant dining and seating area beneath intricate lacy woodwork. Most of the suites and mezzanine rooms are found on this floor. You’ll definitely want either the Art Suite or the Royal Suite for the luxurious spaces. Sandy and André meticulously restored this pretty, balconied property over three and a half years with the help of local craftsmen and have furnished the rooms with beautiful designer pieces such as Barcelona Chairs as well as Havana-made furniture. There’s lots of lovely attention to detail – a fridge stocked with water, wine, and drinks plus snacks. And in the bathroom, find soft soaps sourced from Santa Cruz del Norte, and shampoo made from Cuba’s health industry using placenta. Lush my hair was, too! Climb the spiral staircase to the roof to catch the sun’s last rays. And look out for the Residence’s live music and fashion events, too.
https://www.asresidence.com/ Rooms from 130 euro/140 USD a night.
(Hero Image: A|S Boutique)