actual upscale lodgings in havana
i didn't stay there, but it was the nicest hotel we came across in havana. many of the luxury hotels in town were, by comparison, a bit outdated and run down. if you're looking for some sleek digs while in havana, this is the place to stay. they have a pretty slammin' rooftop pool/bar, with a killer view of old havana and the city. the second floor bar whips up a great mojito, too.
Old Havana Cuba
The amazing thing not only about the hotel, but the staff, and pretty much every cuban person we met, was the tremendous amount of hospitality we received. The staff and management were especially accommodating, as well as our accommodations being top shelf. We only had Jr. Suites, but they were great. Had a balcony looking over the street to the Capitolio. The room was very modern, spacious, nicely decorated, with great doors to balcony. The bathroom was modern and nicely sized as well. The restaurant in the lobby was great and served breakfast lunch and dinner. The bar on the mezzanine level was open 24 hours, a nice luxury when you have a craving for a mojito or a Havana Club and a nice Partagas to smoke at 4:30 in the morning (the cigar factory is literally across the street). There's also a small but nice rooftop pool with a great little bar and mini gym if you felt the urge to excersie. Security is very good. We never felt in harms way at any point during our stay, whether it was walking down some dark street at 3:00am or hanging around the neighborhood bars around the hotel. All of Old Havana felt that way. The Saratoga was all aces in my book, i'd definitely go back. They seem to care and want your return business Architecture and design, classical and eclectic styling. Great staff from the maids to the manager to the head of security
Viva la Saratoga!
We have just returned from a week in Havana, staying at the Hotel Saratoga, and I have to agree with the majority of posters here, it was excellent! We booked via an internet travel agent, and got our flights (Birmingham to Havana via Paris) and a week's B&B in a Deluxe Patio room for around £1600, which was a bit cheaper than buying direct, so it's worth shopping around.
After a taxi ride from the airport (25 convertible pesos - don't pay more!) through the dark nighttime streets of Havana, we were a little disoriented, but once in the hotel, everything was great. Check in was effortless, the bell boy was extremely friendly and helpful and the room was a delight after a long flight. The Deluxe Patio rooms overlook a central atrium, at the bottom of which is the Mezzanine bar, but there is a glass roof over the bar, so noise isn't a problem (unless you're on floors 1 or 2 as there are windows that seem to open onto the bar, but it wasn't busy the whole time we were there). The bathroom was huge, with a rain shower and full size bath. There was plenty of wardrobe space and a free safe.
We ate several times at the hotel, mainly buffet breakfasts (where the hot food could have been warmer, admittedly!) and lunches. Some of the tapas are a bit pricey considering the portion size, but things like the pasta dishes and hamburgers are good value. Drinks are more expensive than most bars, but not outrageous - and they do great Mojitos and Daiquiris in the Mezzanine bar!
We spent a fair amount of time by the rooftop pool, which has amazing views over the city - you can see landmarks like the Capitolio, the Jose Marti memorial and the Teatro Nacional from your sunlounger. The pool is unheated, which is great on a baking hot day, but it can get surprisingly cool up there when the wind gets up! There is a bar serving drinks and meals there too, and free towels are provided for guests.
The room was kept beautifully by our maids, who would leave us some fancy towel-origami on the bed every day (swans, love hearts, a sailboat etc). The staff were largely friendly and helpful, although some were classically laid-back Habaneros! But hey, you're in Cuba...
The hotel is in a great location, overlooking the Captiolio and slap in between Habana Vieja and Centro Habana. It does mean a taxi ride if you want to see Vedado or Miramar, but we didn't bother as there is loads to do nearby. The Partagas cigar factory is a must, as are mojitos in La Bodeguita del Medio. By all means grab a daiqiri in El Floridita, but this is a real tourist trap, and you pay for it! There are loads of great little bars dotted around nearby, all with live bands every night. For a cheap meal, try a pizza at 'A Prado y Neptuno' on the north western corner of Parque Central. Havana after dark can seem intimidating, but it's safer than it looks. Just be prepared for lots of people offering you cheap cigars...
Back at the hotel, the only negatives I can think of are: there was a bit of a knack to flushing the loo; the 'hot' breakfasts weren't; there was a noisy party on the roof one night which echoed around the central atrium a bit!
Overall, I would say that although this hotel might not be quite up to Western 5-star standards, the staff and management are trying reeeally hard!
Good location & great concierge but haphazard breakfasts
We spent 3 nights in the Saratoga in March 2007. Check-in was efficient and friendly. We were introduced to the Concierge, Raul, at that time. He later telephoned our room to ask if he could help us in any way. He spent quite a few minutes showing us on the map places we could visit on foot and also recommended where we could eat. We followed his advice each evening and were not disappointed. Don't expect Cordon Bleu cooking anywhere in Cuba though. On the last night we went to a Paladare which involved a 10 minute taxi ride through the tunnel to what seemed the back of beyond. Unlike a previous reviewer we were delighted with the setting under cover in the owner's back garden. The food was also the best meal we had during our week in Cuba. We would never have found this gem without Raul's help.
The hotel itself has been beautifully restored. We were initially disappointed that our room overlooked the internal courtyard which incoroprates the mezzanine bar but others whose rooms overlooked the city were wakened very early by traffic noise. Our room was spotless when we arrived and kept that way by the very attentive room maids. Minor maintenance doesn't seem to be a high priority though. There were several small items in the room needed attention. Perhaps more importantly, one of the cubicles in the Gents toilet near the Mezzanine bar had a broken lock. For a hotel claiming to be 5 star this isn't acceptable.
As we ate out in the evenings the only meal we had in the hotel was breakfast. This was disappointing, with a poor selection of fruit, juices which were probably concentrate rather than fresh, and hit & miss service. The first morning we were given menus for the cooked choices but these had disappeared by morning two. Each morning my wife had two poached eggs, which either came very quickly or took ages. On each occasion one was cooked properly and the other overcooked. Some of the staff were attentive while others seemed to be avoiding eye contact. Other guests we spoke to had dinner in the hotel twice. They described the first evening as "like Faulty Towers" but said it was far better the second time.
Despite my criticisms I've given the Saratoga an "above average" rating because the good points are very good and from what I saw of other Cuban hotels it is head and shoulders above most of them.
A very cool place to stay!
We stayed here for the last 2 nights of our trip to Cuba. The hotel is beautifully restored, has a facinating history and is in a great location. Staff were friendly and helpful and the whole place has a very relaxed atmosphere. The room was lovely and the bed the most comfortable we slept in during our trip. The bathroom was amazing! The swimming pool bar on the roof (great pizza's) provides fantastic views, especially at sun rise and set. The food in the bars was good, but we found the restaurant downstairs overpriced and the food disappointing. Despite being a 5 star hotel, drinks etc. were reasonably priced. We stayed in other, more basic hotels throughout the trip, which were great, but if you want a little luxury- it's worth having a couple of nights here. This hotel is a haven in what can be a very busy and tiring city.
A class above ... for Havana!
Spent five nights here as part of our honeymoon from March 25th and overrall we really enjoyed our stay at The Saratoga. Just remember a five-star hotel in Havana isn't five star anywhere else, although this is no reflection on the hotel or its staff!
The hotel has been lovingly restored - one taxi driver told us they spent three years on the project - and it is a beacon among the other crumbling beauty's on the edge of Habana Centro.
Sure there were a couple of minor faults if you really wanted to be picky, but it's hardly enough to ruin your stay.
The concierge Raul is a major drawcard here... he's only a young lad but always had great recommendations and loves a chat. In fact he was very surprised when I told him about how many people rave about him on the internet! Just remember to give him a nice little tip - he's off to London in June on his first overseas trip - and he was the only one in a week who tried to refuse one even though he earned it more than anyone else.
However he doesn't work Sundays (and took a Monday off when we were there) - take note because the other staff are pretty hopeless when it comes to recommendations. In fact on a couple of ocassions we were a little surprised at the impassiveness and disinterest we had from one of the check-in staff in particular ... although again all other staff were great.
The location is very good but just out of Old Havana, maybe just a five minute walk, but the rooftop views are superb and make for some great photos.
And yes breakfast isn't great - we even skipped it on one ocassion - although dinner and the tapas bar were more than adequate. But it's far better to go to a Paladar recommended by Raul and enjoy a better meal and a uniquely Cuban experience!
Really Pleasant and Great Service
The rooms were lovely, the concierge was a star and could not have been more helpful and the breakfasts were great (fabulous coffee).
There were some really minor issues that I would have kicked off at had this advertised itself as a five star anywhere else. There were drinks in the mini bar with tops that required a bottle opener but no bottle opener in the room. I had to mend the toilet flush when I arrived as it had come lose from the cistern and the pan was gushing water. It was fiersomely noisy due to the single glazing and the road noise. The blinds were broken and we had to spend the whole time in semi darkness with the blind down. The staff were very pushy about tips.
Having said all that I really liked the atmosphere and the general feel of this hotel and would stay there again.
The pool area on the roof was nice and the cocktails were good.
Havana was the business and I would definately recommend you visit. To be honest I don't think the 5 star option is worth it. You would probably have just as good a time in a three or four star.
Habana Libra, Sep 9th
I will be in Havana for 10 nights from the 9th sept as a solo traveler , I am looking for cheap places to eat etc near by, small, friendly and cheap ! And any general advice, i have read a few reviews of the hotel itself so am not expecting European 4 star but any general tips, do's or don'ts etc would be welcome :o)
Thanks in advance
Re: Habana Libra, Sep 9th
There's no shortage of cheap hotels in Havana, you can choose from budget to luxury. The NH Parque Central hotel and hotel Saratoga are some of the Havana hotels which offer luxurious stay. Just visit Havana hotels page for more information. Havana, the capital of cuba is filled with many interesting things such as colonial buildings, monuments, museums and statues. Many of the Havana's attractions are situated in Old Havana, so choose one of the Havana hotels near old Havana. The San Cristobal Cathedral, Plaza de Armas,freshwater aquarium and Captain General’s Palace are some of the interesting places you can visit in Havana. Some exciting things to do in Havana are spending day time at the white sandy beaches of Santa María del Mar, this beach is only 20 minutes east of Havana, visiting wonderful art galleries and enjoying the live Salsa music. From December to April, Havana is packed with tourists, it's the high season and thousands of visitors from worlwide arrive Havana to enjoy the pleasant & sunny weather. So book your accommodation in advance and explore the beauty of Havana! best of luck!
Re: Habana Libra, Sep 9th
Thank you Pedmar,
I will check that my bank debit card is accepted over there.