Travel Blogs from Havana
... from immigration or customs coming through this border, especially as a British citizen who also holds an American passport. The queue took quite a while to get through at immigration, but when I got up to the window, it took two minutes. I wasn’t asked any questions, and just passed straight through. I also thought I was going to get held up at customs, but they just let me walk straight through. I’d read something on a travel forum about ...
... stand at the airport, where a lady quickly informed us there was no lockers at the airport and the website we had taken the information from was In fact a fake website. We couldn't believe it, why would someone go to the effort of building a fake airport website! Anyway with this new info in toe I pulled apart my bags and repacked them accordingly. Finally the check in desk opened and I was delighted to discover the flight time was in fact only one hour. I was particularly nervous as ...
... routine leading to the firing. The whole scene is only lit by a single burning torch and a few small brassiers so it is difficult to photograph.
Now it was time to pack again and with it came a surprise - nobody, not even foreigners are allowed to take Cuban cigars into the USA even if you are leaving again, with the cigars the next day. As the option was to remove all the labels from the cigars we opted to change our flight, stay one more day in Mexico City, and not enter the ...
... you can get a one-way ticket to the US on a speed boat.
... to hassle us at some point).
While we waited for our flight, I snapped some pictures of the baggage carts coming-off the plane that just arrived from Miami. On the flight down I had seen the amount of goods that passengers checked at the counter, but seeing it all piled high was impressive. The 45 minute plane ride was smooth and the U.S. customs and immigration folks were efficient and did not grill us on where we had just gone (they did ask for the ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Saratoga Havana
Great hotel, good location
Spent 3 nights here in the middle of our holiday. This hotel is advertised as a 5 star hotel and it certainly felt like it. There were staff everywhere to open the door, help with your luggage etc.
We had an indoor room which overlooked the 24hr bar, but we never had any problems with noise. The room and bathroom were large with every modern luxury and lots of space.
I would agree with the comments made about Raul, the concierge, he was very helpful and friendly.
The rooftop bar and pool have a fantastic view over the city.
The only dissapointment was breakfast which was overcooked and luke warm. You could'nt even get a hot cup of tea or coffee as the staff left it standing on the side to get cold.
Good location opposite the Capitolio although there is a rather rough area you have to walk past to get to the central area, especially at night when the lights are out!
Saratoga hotel, Havana - Great!
Excellent except for breakfasts which were only luke warm and the poached eggs were solid. Raul, the concierge, is very helpful and pleasant. Rooms very comfortable and well appointed. Bars are very good and the bar staff are knowledgeable. All in all - terrific.
Good blend of modern and traditional
I stayed here on business for 6 days in September 2006. It was my second trip to Cuba and my second trip to Havana.
Previously I had stayed in the Hotel Parque Central (see review elsewhere), about five minutes away. This time, for business reasons, I stayed in the Saratoga.
Generally speaking I was pleasantly surprised. The hotel is new (it wasn't built the last time I came, in 2005), so everything is new and furnished to a high standard.
The rooms are a nice blend of modern fittings (eg big stone and marble bathrooms) and traditional touches (eg dark wood furniture). This gives a concession to the city's colonial past that you don't get in the more businessy Parque Central.
The staff are generally very friendly and helpful, the place is spotless, it has a lovely roof terrace with a pool (very handy on hot days), and a nice lounge bar with live music.
It is a nice size, making it feel intimate, but not claustrophobic.
The downsides are the breakfast which is a bit limited (or maybe I am too fussy), and a maitre d' who insisted on trying to sell me cigars - the kind of thing I expect from the in the street, but not when I'm having breakfast.
Apart from that, a good location on the edge of the old town, and a very nice place to stay.
And if you've stayed in many Cuban hotels, you'll know that's a big recommendation.
Great service and probably one of the nicest hotels in Havana
I agree with most people here and believe the Saratoga is an excellent hotel by cuban standards. Fortunately the problems with the hot water where solved when I went there so no cold showers for me!!
Rooms are really clean and the swimingpool has amazing views, although it might need a few more chairs when the hotel is full!
The food was good and not to pricy compared to similar places in La Havana (specially other hotels), but the service was really slow. They tried hard and were very apologetical, but it still took ages for our food to arrive!!!
I agree with the honeymoon couple that the concierge was very helpful, and he is one of the few concierges in La Havana Vieja. He always had suggestion, plans, maps, events... and he is always really sweet and polite. My whole family fell in love with him and he made our stay in Havana much more enjoyable.
Sarotoga will always be close to my heart, but maybe for the wrong reasons.
My new husband and I stayed here for the start of our honeymoon in Cuba. It was one of the better hotels we experienced throughout our trip however, it is important to realise that Cubans have no notion of what good service actually is. The conceierge Raul was, however, more than attentive to our needs and was very helpful provided we were firm with what we wanted to do and did not just go along with his suggestions (what he described as the most amazing restaurant with a pretty terrace and an exclusive private dining experience was, in fact, a shack in his friend's garden, a 45 minute cab ride away with the usual selection of grilled meat with rice and beans and every other person in the hotel eating there too). That said he is useful for local information. The Saratoga rooms are spacious, clean and (for Cuba) tastefully decorated with a nice view of the square, Capitol and Patargas cigar factory. Food is terrible, the paladares were so much better than any restaurant we tried, including that of the hotel. The rooftop pool is without doubt a major boon in smelly Havana. Yes there are problems with hot water but this is the case with the whole of Cuba and mostly occurs in the middle of the night. And yes everyone is on the make, after a tip, giving you a recommendation, both inside and outside the hotel, this can get tedious but it is mostly harmless. Having taken a look at other hotels in Havana it is probably one of the best, but at no point will you feel pampered or looked after as you would expect in 5 star hotel. Many of their efforts to be helpful are in fact laughter-inducing (if you don't laugh you will cry). The hotel offers a welcome respite from the exciting, hot street-life of Havana. Ultimately, Saratoga tries hard and for that we were grateful.
Excellent place... Location not bad
We stayed on our honeymoon in November. Loved the place. Excellent facilities for havana and it had just opened. Found the staff really friendly and the hotel in excellent condition throughout.
My only downside was that it was near a poorer part of the city and we were bugged a little by locals trying to get a few quid and be "friendly" to us by bringing us to the best restaurants. This was easily overcome though to be fair. Our only advice is to look confident and refuse help from the locals when you arrive first. Tell them you have been here before, they usually leave you alone then as you are well aware of the culture.
The hotel was right opposite the Capitolo and Chinatown. Havana is a beautiful city and we would go back in the morning. Also we would go back to this hotel too.
The best in Old Havana
Of all the historical hotels in Havana, the Hotel Saratoga is by far the best. We stayed in a room overlooking the Capitola Builiding and the parks, Wow, what a view.... The room was beautiful and very comfortable. The pool on the roof overlooking the city is spectacular. The only negative was the quality of the food on the morning buffet. Overall, I highly recommend this hotel if staying in Havana, just make sure you adjust your expectations when traveling there.
Saratoga - a good choice
Hotel Saratoga was my first experience of a 5 star hotel in Cuba, and compared to the 5 * Sandels Hotel Princesa Del Mar in Veradero, it was very good.
The room was very clean and the bathroom excellent. The roof top pool is small but very inviting after a days sightseeing. The views from the roof are fantastic. Breakfast was good with plenty of choice.
Its situated very close to the Capitolio building and the cigar factory, Partagas, which is just across the park. A walk to the Plaza de Armas would take 15-20 mins.
Go to the hotel Parque Central to get a better exchange rate.
We found a great restaurant in next block, opposite the Capitolio, underneath the arches. Just look for a queue of people at the bottom of some stairs with a waiter looking harassed. Its authentic Cuban food and worth the wait.
Go to 'El Floridita' which is 5 mins walk away, to visit the home of the Daiquiri and great music. Also two doors down from the Floridita, in the corner bar the music gets even better.
Our only gripe with the hotel was being without hot water for 12 hours on one occasion.
A Very Good Hotel
We stayed at three different Hotels in Havana, The Saratoga, NH Parque Central and the Nacional. This Hotel was the best of the three. We arrived late 11.30 pm, however we were welcomed most heartily with a cocktail. The room was large and clean and the bathroom was spotless. If I were going to Havana again this would be my first choice without a doubt.
A further thought - if a swimming pool is important to you then unfortunately this hotel only has a small pool on the roof but it does suffice.
Luxury with problems
The Saratoga is a newly renovated luxury hotel very well situated across from the park and Capitolio. Since it's on the outer edge of where renovations are taking place it borders a more run-down area of old Havana which gives you a good sense of local life in all its decaying, noisy, musical beauty.
The lobby is very Euro-chic and the staff friendly. The interior courtyard room was spacious, well-furnished and the bathroom was high-design and clean - and smelled of mildew. There was an additional problem - NO HOT WATER. In fact, there was no hot water for the 4 days I was there. Since I had pre-paid the room, after the second day I asked if I could receive a refund since I wanted to move to a hotel where I could take a hot shower. This is Cuba, however, where money transactions are tightly controlled and I was informed this was not possible. The water was cut off twice in an attempt to address the hot water issue, but to no avail. While the staff was slightly apologetic, there were no goodwill gestures or offers to guests for this incovenience.
There were a couple of other annoyances like calling for ice and being asked to come to the lobby bar to get it myself...and waiting 1/2 an hour for someone to bring a bottle opener since the minibar had bottled water that required an opener that wasn't supplied.
This is touted as the most luxurious new hotel in Havana and is priced accordingly. They need to fix their plumbing problem and service issues if they want positive word of mouth recommendations and repeat business.
My experiences later in the trip staying in private homes throughout the country for a fraction of the Saratoga's price were superb...the Saratoga staff and management would do well to learn from their warm-hearted countrymen who offer far more humble accommodations.