Hotel Ambos Mundos
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They all think we're crazy and they're probably right.. :)
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How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Ambos Mundos Havana
I have stayed at Ambos Mundos twice, once with my hard to please mother in law - say no more! On both occasions my companions and I made sure that we booked rooms overlooking the harbour. We were not disappointed. The view is exhilarating and the hotel is a fantastic art deco style building with an atmospheric ground floor salon where you watch the world go by, adjacent to Calle Obispo which must rank as one of the streets of the world - right in the heart of Havana old town. True, the prices are high and the service is often second rate but what do you expect - this is a nationalised hotel in a nationalised economy wherer the government control the prices? My advice is go now and soak up the atmosphere of this unique part of a unique city before, as will soon be the case, it becomes yet another Mcdonaldsville.
Avoid Terrible Ambos Mundos @ $180
Paid $180 for a double room on 26 December. No window, nowhere to hang clothes and the smallest double bed anywhere. The one elevator provides inadequate capacity for the volume of guests. A taxi was able to drop us at the door for arrival but the hotel is unable to arrange taxis to pickup at the door for departure - a serious problem if you have heavy cases or a lor of luggage. Breakfast is served on a roof terrace with a lovely view but the breakfast food is second rate. The only positive - the hotel does have an attractive lobby with an accomplished violinist and pianist a midday. The Sevilla hotel is the same price and is a much better hotel in every way. Avoid the Ambos Mundos!
Leaky with cockroaches
Although it is gorgeous from the outside and charming on the first floor, our room was a huge disappointment. When we came in, it smelled of mildew. We also got a horrendous view of the building across the street (and nothing else). They were very accomodating in getting us another room with a better view (two floors higher), but it still smelled (although less!). When we stayed there, there was a huge rainstorm and the room leaked (now we know why the room smelled!). And upon our arrival home, we found cockroaches in our bag! We did enjoy our time on the rooftop restaurant with different Cuban bands everyday, although they didn't have a number of things on the menu! All in all, be very, very wary!
Rooftop restaurant Scam !!
We did not actually stay at this hotel, but during a day trip into Havana we decided to go to the rooftop restuarant for some drinks and ice cream as we had been told the view of old Havana from the top was nice.
Apart from the nice view, what we actually found was what is clearly a scam going on. Before I tell you about the scam, I'll warn you about the awful drinks and ice creams.
We ordered a natural orange juice, a mojito, the $2 ice cream and the $4 'Lolita' ice cream that was described as served with coconut. The drinks were mediocre, the mojito was bland and served in a very small class that was mostly ice, and the 'natural' orange juice was anything but, tasting watery and sickly sweet. The ice creams were just two tiny scopes, and the more expensive one came with an absolutely awful coconut mess swimming in something like a sickly syrup.
But the thing that really got on my goat was the attempt by the waiter to pocket all the money for himself. First off when we asked for the bill the waiter appeared and just said "11.50" and did not give a bill. I handed over 20CUC and then the waiter seemed to disappear. I waited about 2-3 minutes and then spoke to another waiter to enquire about my change. aAfter a few minutes, the waiter who had took the money reappeared and handed me the change. I then requested a bill. He huffed a bit and disappeared for another couple of minutes. He then came back with a bill that had written on it simply "Food and drinks - 11.50CUC" with nothing itemised. I then said I wanted a proper bill with everything itemised.He huffed again and disappeared and did not reappear for another two minutes.This time the bill was itemised but we had been overcharged on the Lolita ice cream by 50 cents. I told the waiter in no uncertain terms that he had overcharged me. He offered to refund the 50 cents but gave no apology.
To sum up this basically seems like a simple scam to ask for payment for smallish orders like drinks and ice cream without giving a bill. We love Cuban people and appreciate the tough life they have, but this was a very unsubtle attempt by a hotel employee to line his own pockets, and of possibly deliberate overcharging of customers in the process.
If we had not been pressed for time I would have spoken to the hotel management about this.
Do yourself a favour, if you are looking for a nice place in Old Havana for a drink and some decent food at reasonable prices, then go to the 1st floor cafe in the Bacardi Building (near Parque Central).
This is an absolute Art Deco gem of a place. There the cafe is exactly as it was when the building was built in 1930. All the original Art Deco fittings and fixtures and still there including wonderful plush red leather sofas and chairs. We had two fantastic natural fruit juices and one daiquiri, followed by a delicious Cuban lunch, I had fish, my girlfriend had steak and both meals included rice, vegetables, side salad, bread etc all for a total of $17.50 including the drinks !!!!!!!
This must be the best value place in Havana. Sadly for some reason this place seems little known and we were the only tourists there at two in the afternoon. But in terms of ambience, professional service, great drinks and splendid food and unbelievable value for money - this place beats Ambus Mundos hands down!!
Romantic Alternative to Varadero AI's
After an all day, and rather circuitous, journey from northern New England, where snow still covered the ground, we (wife, self, and daughters, aged 12 and 7) found ourselves looking down from the balcony of our fourth floor room onto the vibrant street scenes below, at the coner of Obisbo and Mercadores Strees in the heart of romantic Habana Vieja. Salsa music wafted on tropical air from the nearby Plaza de Armas and, even though it was midnight, there were many people strolling about the streets below. We were fascinated; we watched, hypnotically, for more than an hour, 'til travel fatigue overcame us. Next morning, before setting out on a tour of the city, we ejoyed a wonderful buffet breakfast at the open-air rooftop resteraunt. Before heading down to Santiago de Cuba, we enjoyed two more nights at the Ambos Mundos, plus another two nights before departing Cuba. The staff was OUTSTANDING, personable, solicitious, often even anticipating our needs. The lobby piano bar, just off the street, is a nice place to relax and have a snack. The rooftop, open air restaurant was a particular favorite for breakfasts. Although the hotel lacks a swimming pool, who needs it, with so much to see and do in Habana! Like Hemingway did in the 1930's and 1940's (his room #501 is preserved as a mini-museum), we hope to return again and again to the Ambos Mundos, and would recommend it to anyone who treasures romance and individuality.
Room for improvement
The first room assigned to us was a dark dingy and depressing room facing the inner courtyard. The shower was appalling, I may have destroyed it trying to close the stall door. For this we were charged the same rate as the nicer, airy, bright rooms facing the street. We were able to change for the last 3 nights to one of the nicer rooms. No complaints there. I had been looking forward to visiting the Hemmingway museum on the 5th floor, but for the 4 days we were there it didn't seem to be open . When a friend tried to contact us at the hotel regarding a family emergency at home, the desk clerk refused to take a message, claiming he needed a room number. We found out about the emergency when we got home. Most of the staff were friendly and helpful, however we found the service in the rooftop garden mediocre at best. Sitting down at a table was no indication to the staff that you wanted some service. The hotel has curb appeal, and the lobby bar and musicians were good. Good location.
Enjoyable, but good luck on the room roulette
I feared the nightlfe sounds drifting up the courtyard from previous posts and brought earplugs, but I never used them. The hotel's best asset is its location - in the heart of Old Havana, just a block from the Plaza de Armas, which is the most inviting and lively plaza in the city. (I almost stayed at a Parque Central hotel based on some cursory research; I'm glad I didn't. When I arrived I discovered that this park is loud, filled with diesel-fumes, ringed with perpetual traffic, and often filled with touts.)
The Ambos Mundos has five floors, the ancient elevator is fun and, in my experience at least, safe. About half the rooms front the two main streets, half don't. (Three on each floor face the interior courtyard and get no views or fresh air.) Ask for a room facing the street when checking in; the light and views will compensate for the slight street noise. (The whole neighborhood is largely blocked to autos, and so the traffic consists mostly of pedestrians.)
My room was in the back corner, tiny and dark, and had only a sliver of a rooftop view across an airshaft. But it was clean and basic, had good hot water, and the chambermaids were honest and pleasant. No complaints. The breakfast buffet on the rooftop was perfectly fine, in its bland, Cuban-restaurant-food sort of way. The coffee was an exception - it was weak and tasteless, but a stiffer cup ($1) is available at a 24-hour café a few doors down Obisbo.
Unfortunately chose the Ambos Mundos for 9 days over New Year 2003. The only good thing was the friendly staff in the rooftop restauant. The room and bathroom were very small and very tired - the paint on the re-painted bath - to cover the chipped enamel - was peeling off, and the ceiling leaked when it rained, although we were not on the top floor(!); which sums up the accommodation! The hotel is on five floors built round a roofed in central atrium. As a result the endless tuneless piano playing on the ground floor, and the nightly very loud pop music on the 2nd floor function room echo around the boombox of the hotel until 2.00am every night. The street cleaners and adjacent building site staff begin work at 4.30am with conversations shouted at one another as only Cubans know how! Havana and Cuba are friendly, fascinating, full of live music, and sad, but avoid the Ambos Mundos if you want to enjoy your visit. Don't miss taking a bus ride to Trinidad on the south coast.
Clean and convenient
I stayed at the Ambos Mundos for a week in February 2003. It was very clean, the staff friendly and helpful, almost all spoke english, and it was a pleasant experience. It was a little noisy due to the construction of a building next door, and the music from the street went on until well after midnight, but overall it is an excellent hotel and I would definitely stay there again.
The accomodation's basic, but the roof terrace bar's pleasant and the staff unbelievably friendly and helpful above and beyond the call of duty. Fantastic location right in the centre of old Havana.