Hotel Santa Isabel
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Travel Blogs from Havana
This time it will be a short message, as I just arrived. But this first post ever I dedicate to all of those I have left in Europe and one constant traveller that is somewhere in China now. Thanks so much to my Parents for all the support even when we have had a bad time lately, to Edgar for all patience, all good vibes, beautiful smile, great …
... At over $20 each, it is not an everyday smoke (well, at least for me) and I only reward myself with one on ...
... our pictures, getting through immigration was a breeze.
What our local guide 'Andy' lacks in fluency in English, he makes up for in knowledge and personality. He leads us to our tour bus, a Yutong, made in China; it is immaculate, spanking clean and equipped with a WC. On our way to lunch in Vieja Havana, the Old CIty, we drive by Revolution Square site of the Jose Marti Monument and Tower as well as other smaller ...
... To add to this, internet is slow, restricted and hard to come by in Cuba so it was close to impossible to contact anyone or research help!Long story short, we had to call the parents! With empty wallets and not enough money to pay our hostel or airport departure tax we had to unfortunately depart Cuba.
Mum and Dad saved the day by booking us flights out of the country and that is how and why we begin our next chapter in Panama. (More ...
Saturday morning greeted us with nice crisp weather chilled by riding in a convertible (the same 1948 Buick 88, see Cubans & Cars) to the airport. We snapped more pictures (so easy without a top). The airport processing was painless and rather quick, thanks to my cousin leveraging my uncle's old age to get us on a special line. There were no customs or immigration issues. I figured it would come in the U.S. (I had heard so many stories that I was expecting some ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Santa Isabel Havana
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.