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Travel Blogs from Havana
Rather than write a whole spiel about our five days in Havana we've attached quite a few photos (with captions) to give a general atmosphere....
... the best cigar we've ever had, the Cohiba Maduro 5 Genios.
From Cigar Inspector.
I'm bringing ...
... not on our itinerary, Andy our city guide was willing to take us and another couple, Linda and Arthur Schwartz from Chevy Chase, for a visit. Although the synagogue was closed, we were able to see the building, look in the windows and have our pictures taken in front of the decorative doors.
Everyone agreed that dinner, roast chicken, rice and beans, at El Aljibe, a pretty outdoor restaurant in tony Miramar, was the best meal of the trip so ...
... loosely talked about the option of including Cuba in our travels, it was not until one week before we booked the flights that we actually committed to the idea and -being so taken up with the excitement of swimming with whale sharks in Mexico-we may have failed to thoroughly research Cuba....
We had read that Mastercards were not able to be used in ATMs in Cuba but you could access money by making a trip to the bank in Havana. ...
... and I’m taking some duct tape.)
In Matanzas we saw an improvised (everything is improvised) stand for repairing cell phones, which are expensive to come by. The sign read, "We repair all types of cellular phones; Dr. Chang; Cellular Clinic". We didn’t get to see if he was really Chinese.
In Cuba, many personal and most phone conversations are followed with “Dale”! This is slang ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Raquel Havana
Great place !!
A very good place in the center of Habana !!
Very nice hall and rooms. The less noisy hotel in old havana !
We know Tejadillo, O farill, Frailes, Florida... all are more noisy !
The service is good, the elevator works (not always the same in other hotel)
there is a nice view on the roof.
A very good place to visit the wonderfull old town.
Stayed over here for 4 nights and toured Havana by ourselves.
Had the suite on the top floor, we would of been happy in a standard room as the suite did not have a window looking outside!
a good hotel for Cuban standards, clean, beautifull decor. Breakfast was limited however that is what you expect from Cuba.
Staff very friendly and wanting to help.
One word of advice when being an independent traveller, should you be there at Bank holiday get your money the day before, as all banks close for the whole 3 days and there are NO cash machines!!
Would I go back? yes
A Gem in Old Havana!
My husband and I stayed here from April 25-29th and it was the most serene and pleasant experience. The staff was fabulous, and the on-site internet availability was a major plus. We did the all inclusive breakfast and although food in Cuba is hit or miss, it was definately a good thing at Hotel Raquel. The rooms were absolutely amazing! The access to the roof top and the view from there was an added treat, terraces for every room. Entering there felt like going into Shangri La! The streets outside are not dodgy and actually very safe all around due to the ever present guards, police officers and hidden camera right outside on the opposite building. This Hotel is near all the strategic points in Old Havana like the Obispo (2blks on San Ignacio) the Plaza Vieja, Plaza des Armas, wonderful coffee shops and panaderias and the Capitolio. If ever in Havana make this a must. And I forgot to mention the amazing stained glass ceiling/skylight on the inside.
Raquel is elegant, historic but a bit expensive
We stayed in Raquel from 25th till 27th of Jan. The taxi had some difficulties in finding there, since Raquel is "hidden" in the Old Havana but pretty close to Plaza de San Francisco. The interior of Raquel reminded us of a museum, fabulous furniture, ceiling and decorations. Double room was spacious, show/toilet well equipped, bed firm enough. The only problem was the noise from the street and from the hall (there's a lot of echo there!). So earplug we saved from the airline became handy. Breafast was served in the very nice lobby restaurant but the catering was very modest, coffee from the 20 liter Thermos was no longer even hot if we got the restaurant at 07:15.
Serving was OK, but the concept of 'breakfast' here is very different from the western style one. In the basement of Raquel there's a small gym with machines and dumbbells. The Finnish style sauna next to it was great and also free for hotel guest. However we felt that 118,- eur / night / 2 pers was a bit high. (Sorry the pics inside the room taken after we've settled down :-))
A Palace...if you can stand the noise!!
We stayed at the Hotel Raquel for one week. The hotel is gorgeous (especially the roof-top terrace). The staff was friendly (except for the security guard who asked us to buy cigars from him everytime we left or entered the building) and the hotel was clean. The BIG issue was the noise. The rooms are built around the outside of the building with an open atrium from top to bottom inside. We could hear every spoon drop, every cough, every movement from the lobby/bar up in our room. It was unbelievably noisy and echoed all through the place. It was like sleeping in an airport or train station because the noise just never stopped. BEWARE...the hotel is NOT in a great area and we were mugged at the corner of Calle San Ignacia and Acosta.
We spent 1 night at this hotel at the end of a tour of Cuba. The interior is wonderfully restored, both ground and upper floors. Our room was relatively small compared to those of other old-style Havana hotels but the high ceilings compensated for this. Staff were friendlier than average, but breakfast was worse than other hotels, with the buffet choice more limited. The location is excellent and there is a good choice of eating places within a few blocks. As with other hotels, hot water supply was erratic. Overall, no major negatives, although the less mobile should realise that tour buses cannot get close to the hotel and cars have to unload some distance from the main entrance.
Staying at the Raquel was pure pleasure, the staff were very frieindly and helpful, one of the Bell boys even walked us down to the bank to change some money. It is a beautifull building and we were told by the staff that it has been in operation as a hotel for two years, previous to that it looked like it was some sort of Merchant Bank. The rooms are beautiful ,ceilings very high all with elegant mouldings , furniture was oldy worldy cast iron beds and marble dressing table etc. Even if you do not stay here pop in just to cast your eye over the wonderfull painted glass arched ceiling.
On the top floor there is a terrace, good place for cocktails in the evening and a quaint little bell tower where one can dine on a romantic meal for two.
We had a good traditional meal here with a great bottle of Cuban red wine, Pricey but worth evey CUC, but felt the staff really put a lot of effort in on our behalf.
Location was great, turn right and you find yourself in Plaza Vieja- great place to people watch drink home brewed beer and dine on skewers of garlic prawns, turn left then right and find Obispo Street full of livey bars playing cuban music - We stayed four nights and had a fantastic time.
A good reservation that ended with reservations.
Well what can I say about the dear old Hotel Raquel?
You will not be disappointed with the colonial charm and ambience of this hotel, which in spite of its art deco theme, that may or may not be to your taste, still inspires and captures your imagination. The breakfast IMO however is far from inspirational and best left to dine with itself.
The rooms are very clean, pleasant and most have balconies. There are views of old Havana from the rooftop "garden" where you can enjoy a cold beer or other refreshment. Location wise the hotel is not far from the center of the old town and is therefore very convenient for many of the sights, bars and restaurants.
My reservations: -
The room was pre-paid but on leaving I was still overcharged for the two drinks from the bar that I had on my room tab. 1+1=3 if you know what I mean. In fairness I did receive a belated apology for this while I waited for my second taxi following a request to the "doormen" who had previously set me up with a non-official taxi which was presumably one of their family or friends or perhaps was paying them some sort of commission. These same doormen had earlier in my stay offered me prostitutes to take to my room which if you are a single man may or may not be a plus point...I reluctantly declined due to some sort of stupid moral obligation I had to other guests...or on second thoughts maybe it was due to my daily consumption of rum!
In conclusion I think that if you are a couple you will probably not have the same experience that I as a single man encountered. The hotel is fine and the majority of staff very helpful. It's just a shame that due to one or two people letting their fellow workers down this hotel took a nosedive in my popularity rating.
An unforgetable experience
I stayed in Havana for one week at the Raquel Hotel from July 15 - 22 2004. The hotel is located at the heart of old havana in the jewish quarter. The Hotel Raquel is only 1 years old but is one of the best hotels i have stayed. Staff is friendly and helpfull and they speak english but one minus is making domestic calls can be expensive. Prostitution is abudant in havana, i traveled by myself and staff in the hotel offer me prostitutes for $20.00, which it was a big turn off but overall hotel is clean, nice, great location and safe.