Hotel Santa Isabel
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Photos of Hotel Santa Isabel
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Santa Isabel Havana
It was Good...
Stayed here 30.11-2.12.04. Superb location, overlooking Plaza de Armas in Habana Vieja on one side and a harbour view on the other. An excellent open-air courtyard area and a roof-top bar/cafe that seemed woefully underused.
Attentive friendly staff, speaking ood English. Our room was spacious, air conditioned, had a large balcony overlooking the square (but without privacy from other residents) and contained plenty of nice dark-wood furniture. There was indeed mould on the ceilings, presumably from leaks in the room above, and some of the wall paint-work was scuffed and scruffy. TV, telephone, hair-drier and safe all provided.
Couple of small problems: There were no directions on how to work the safe and I had to call a bell-boy to explain, and the electicity sockets were different to that at our all-inclusive resort in Varadero and we thus had the incorrect converters with us. Also, the breakfast was very poor.
Havana itself was so-so. The hustlers really do irritate and chased us out of the place a half-day earlier than we had really wanted to leave. I would suggest the authorities should do something about them, before word is out and people stop visiting Havana because of it. It has certainly put me off a second visit, and I was glad to return to the peace of our all-inclusive.
As I am used to regular visits to London, I found the price not too prohibitive (E120 per night).
Splendid, elegant worn grandeur
The Santa Isabel is the perfect location in Havana - situated in the most beautiful square surrounded by elegant 19thC colonial baroque architecture. The atmosphere is fabulous. The standards of the hotel were excellent - friendly courteous staff who are welcoming and helpful. Minutes walk from all the main sites of Old Havana and best bars and restaurants. Highly recommended and well worth the extra cost. Best rooms are on third floor. We had a fantastic time. Me and my twin sister celebrated our 50th birthday at the Santa Isabel and were invited to a complimentary dinner in the restaurant which was the best we had in Havana. The setting made for the most perfect holiday.
A mixed bag
There's no doubt that the Santa Isabel is a beautiful building in a great location, touts notwithstanding. The central courtyard provides a great refuge from the craziness outside, and I could have stayed in my planter's chair forever. (I almost had to, as I was staying at the hotel on the night that Hurricane Charley hit Cuba.) However there were disappointments. Our room had the aforementioned creaky beds (perhaps WD40 isn't available in Cuba, but they make those 50s cars run pretty well so there must be some sort of oil available) and the overall cleanliness level was not what it might have been. There was mould on the bedroom & bathroom ceilings, and the bathroom floor tiles were badly stained. I know this is Cuba, and "normal" standards can't necessarily be maintained, but a hotel that charges as much as this one does should at least look clean. We also had a laundry "incident". There were no prices on the list in our room, but we just filled in the item list, and sent it off anyhow. When the laundry was returned that evening, we discovered that not only were their prices higher than the average New York 5 star hotel, but they had charged a 50% premium for same day service (thay had picked up the laundry at 8.30am, and brought it back at about 7pm). They also wanted to be paid in cash, on the spot! After a slightly heated discussion, I agreed to pay the regular rate, still outrageous in my view, especially as the quality of the pressing left a lot to be desired. One other negative - the security guards, present in every Havana hotel, seemed exceptionally, even aggressively keen to provide access to services not normally found on a room service menu....... Having said all of this, I would probably stay there again, though with more realistic expectations next time.
Great location, great food
I didn't stay there but I wanted to point out that the locationis unparalleled in Old Havana and the dinner I had there was the best I had in Cuba, as was the service.
Great hotel, excellent location
It's a very nice hotel, though not cheap. I was given a very nice room facing the Plaza and with a large balcony - that helped enjoying the hotel. The location is excellent - watch out the money you will spend in taxis if you're staying out of Havana Vieja and want to go there during the day and return and go again... The hotel is very nice but - how should I explain this? - you gotta like old things. I much prefer a somewhat noisy and stubborn balcony door than an "all fancy and modern hotel" where everything is irreprehensible. So, if you like the peculiar charm of old things, don't hesitate; if you expect the perfection of a modern 5 star, forget it and try the 36th floor of an hotel in Vedado. But if you're the kind of falling in love with Habana Vieja, you'd want this style of accomodation. If old and Havana Vieja is your choice, you might even so find the price excessive - there are other options, not so expensive and also very central and charming. If the rate is a somewhat "special indulgence", spend it elsewhere; if you're ok with the rate, go for it!
Not as good as it thinks
I'm afraid I have to differ with the earlier posted glowing reports of this hotel. We were disappointed in general with the room (first floor, junior suite) and although we were told by our guide that 'hey ... this is Cuba', when we remarked on the terrible mattress, noisy iron frame and constant row from the central atrium bar area (open 24x7), we have since learned that other hotels in Havana actually earn their 5 star rating. I'd give this hotel a 3 for the room and for cleanliness. The breakfast buffet was good, or as good as it gets anyway, and the building itself is beautiful, just not cut out to provide a quiet refuge. Potential visitors should also consider its location - whilst being so central to everything, it is the very heart of the tourist honey-pot and loud renditions by groups of wandering musicians of 'Guantanamera', who walk with you and remain 'in your face' until paid off or told where to go, literally all day, soon lose their charm. The hassle element is also to be considered - it starts outside the hotel and continues relentlessly (15 times our first hour) throughout the main tourist areas. I would recommend a hotel slightly out of the main action, but still within walking distance of some truly beautiful areas, and one cannot really blame the beggars and peddlars - the average Cuban earns $7 a month - an extra $1 from you or me makes a big difference.
Charming Hotel in Havana
We spent an enjoyable Anniversary weekend here in September 2003. We staid in a "Suite" room with a lovely view over the square. The room had two tv's, mini bar, limited AC, lovely dark wood furniture and jacuzzi bath. There were also shutter type doors leading out on to a slim balcony where you can watch the world go by. The stained glassed windows bring a rainbow of colours into the room. The open aired atrium courtyard was a joy to sit around, listerning to a live pianist and sipping Mohitos. The hotel is located within easy walking distance to all the main attrations in the old town. Breakfast in the hotel was good and the Medina restaurant around the corner was our favourite for the second year running. We would recommend a horse drawn carriage tour, though make sure you have an English speaking guide and book one of the old style cars to take you to the airport!
Ripped off in cuba
you would have to be retarded to spend more than 50 bucks a night in havana concidering that the average cuban makes 15 dollars a month, plus cuba has really terrible food .
Great coffee and cortado
Didn't stay here but had terrific coffee Americano and cortado in the courtyard - at a 4 star premium price of course.
what a wonderful hotel, located in the heart of historic havana. We spent 3 nights of our honeymoon here, before traveling to the beach at Veridero. our nights in havana were definetly the highlight of the trip, and this hotel was superb. Beautiful, classic architecture and a helpful staff.
TripAdvisor Reviews Hotel Santa Isabel Havana
Travel Blogs from Havana
... one written up in the New York Times a few months back as being very good. Success must have spoiled it. The service was poor; bad enough that the owner came to our guide and returned the pre-paid gratuity saying that they didn’t deserve it. I’ll bet you never saw that happen before, did you? In addition, the food was a step below so-so. They didn’t offer to refund that part of the bill. I cannot recommend Salazar Dona ...
... then when we dropped the one guy off, we picked up four more. I didn’t really have any idea what was going on, but I had my offline maps and I was keeping an eye on where we were going. The other guys had to get dropped off at the bus station next to Plaza de Revolucion, which is right near my guesthouse. We dropped them off and then five minutes later the driver brought me right to the front door of my casa. We had agreed on 15 CUC for the ride, but ...
... A nervous laughter amongst the few foreigners was clear but the locals seemed calm like this was normal, so we didn't panic too much. A couple of minutes later and everything was back on. Yes......we had definitely made it to Cuba. Where else in the world would the power go out in the capital city airport?? The power going out at the airport was just the beginning. Finally almost 75 minutes later we watched the luggage carrousel start moving and instead of bags coming out ...
... It felt odd to stuff myself at the hotel's gourmet buffet when I knew that the waiters woudl not see this much food in their own homes ever, may never get as full as I was. I couldn't help but feel slightly guilty. I have a strong feeling we will only be seeing the shiny parts of Cuba. Stay tuned as we traverse through the communist country in a large, cushy, air-conditioned bus, taking photos out the window as faces stare through the transparency. ...
... with still only an understanding we are a long way from speaking fluently & we have decided that we will continue to study for another 2 weeks in Guatemala & then again at night classes when we return home.
We really enjoyed staying at Alicia’s & would highly recommend her studio to anyone coming to Cuba. But again it was time to move on & the taxi came on saturday morning to get us to the bus that would take us to the central town of Trinidad.