Hotel Mercure Sevilla Havane
Travel Blogs from Havana
... pesos which are only used by locals and Cuban convertibles (CUC) which are mainly for tourists however locals also may have them. 1CUC = 24 Cuban pesos, so it's pretty much a system designed to screw tourists over. For example the cave we went to whilst we were in Vinales cost me and Sarah 10CUC each, whereas for a local it cost 10 Cuban pesos, which is about $10USD compared to 30c. However, two things that are very cheap in Cuba are rum and cigars. You can pick up a ...
... good price. Finally we took a "taxi" ride back with an older gentleman and Charles had a good conversation with him about Cuba-US relations (since I know French I'm able to understand most of the Spanish I hear but can't speak it very well). He (like every Cuban we met) hated the embargo and was disappointed in Obama as he hasn't done anything to change that. He said Cuban people love American people just not the American government ...
... morning, picks up his horse and then turns in all his fares at the end of the day. His wages are a flat salary, just like everyone else in the country. Although I'm sure he put a little in his pocket to augment the family income.
That evening we all met up for one last dinner together. As we left the hotel to walk to the restaurant, a police car pulled up to our guide. A Cuban walking with 15 ...
... parallel economies. The ¨peso convertible¨ and the ¨peso national¨. The convertible peso is worth 25x the national peso and is the currency for tourism, foreign exchange, and for purchasing any kind of luxury or consumer good. I carried both currencies, and occasionally I had the opportunity to purchase goods and services with the national peso. On these occasions I paid approximately 40 cents for taxi (collectivo) rides, 15 to 50 cents for pizza ...
... in a secret grave in Bolivia where he was killed in 1967. Also visited a cigar factory here with maybe 100 (mostly women) hand rolling, pressing, quality testing and labelling cigars. Unfortunately not allowed to take photos in there.
Then headed east to Santiago for a festival and out to Baracoa in the far east. Too many photos to put here. Check the next post for eastern photos .. continued ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
TravelPod Member ReviewsHotel Mercure Sevilla Havane Havana
Wonderful historic hotel about a 5 min walk from the Capitolia and the waterfront. Great base to explore the city from. Staff were very good - and really appreciate a tip!
Don't forget to leave something for the room staff - they do a terrific job.
Rooms are very large and well kept.
Look for Eric, a local tour guide who is based on the roadway just outside the fence of the pool area. He has a 1957 Dodge in fantastic condition. Excellent English and he's happy to take you all around Havana.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.
Historical Traveler Reviews Hotel Mercure Sevilla Havane Havana
Stayed in Januarty 2004. The staff here were so friendly! Everyone tried to make us feel like home. Our plane was delayed about 12 hours, and as such didn't arrive til about 3:30 am. There were staff expecting us, with cool drinks when we arrived in the lobby. Most of the night staff didn't speak good English, but made every attempt to try their best. We received a room with a broken lock, then sent someone to fix it right away (keep in mind it's like 4am). The next day they installed a new lock on the door. They even offered us another room...
Every day the breakfast was the same, but good choices. The evening dinners were ok, and what you'd expect at a 3-star, but found that the staff and atmosphere made up for it.
It was in the heart of Havanna, with everything close by & within walking distance.
If I ever went back to Havanna, and wanted to enjoy the city for all it has to offer, I would stay here again in a heartbeat.
The rooms were spacious, beds weren't bad - but not the Sheraton. Everything was clean. Loved it alot!
Grace and elegance among ruins
My daughter and I spent 3 nights at the Hotel Sevilla on arrival in Cuba before heading for the beach at Varadero for the remainder of our 2 weeks. The hotel is ideally situated for exploring the old town and is a reminder of the grace and spendour that once existed in imperial Cuba.
We loved the ground floor courtyard where you can sip a mojito and listen to real musicians playing latin american style music. There's also a pool which is very nice but we spent limited time there as we wanted to see the sights of the city.
Our room was lovely with a high ceiling and two huge windows, flooding the room with light. As we were on the 4th floor, we had a good view of the city and out to sea. The bathroom was large and well equipped and the beds were very comfortable. The air con worked extremely well and we felt instantly settled in this hotel.
We took an organised city tour with an English speaking guide. By bus we did revolution square, and other areas accessible by road, then we went on a walking tour of the old town. It was very hot and exhausting but a good way to get our bearings before exploring on our own.
My guidebook waxed lyrical about the Copellia ice cream parlour - so we took a coco taxi (a motorbike with a yellow shell and two seats) across town. Talk about white knuckle ride! At Copellia we were greeted by security guards, which made us think that this ice cream was indeed very special. Cubans were queueing around the block for it. Well, I have to say that when we finally got to be served in a special area set aside for tourists, it was less than ordinary.
Other experiences were more positive, like the Capitolo building with its fabulous views over the city. We also visited a cigar factory nearby and the museum of the revolution - very interesting. We learned a lot about the Cuban perspective of the revolutionaries. Castro and Che Gevara are almost universally loved by the people, who appear to be very happy with their government despite the conditions in which they live.
Many of the buildings display great oppulence - a very stark contrast to the squalid conditions in which many of the people dwell. Our questions about the economy, politics, employment and social care were answered by our guide but I was a little sceptical about some of his answers.
We visited the Hemmingway haunts - cocktails at El Floridita @ $6 each were the most expensive we had but we found it very pleasant in there. As everywhere, there was a small but talented ensomble playing.
We ate at two very different establishments which were recommended to us (not the air conditioned international ones listed by the tour operator). Firstly Mason de la Flota, a short taxi ride from our hotel. This smelled fabulous and the menu included tapas and fresh fish. We had a lovely meal including starters, lobster and king prawns in garlic butter and it was around $30 in total (£18 for two including drinks) AND we weren't ill afterwards.
For a little variety we took a rikshaw(?) back to our hotel. We asked the old bloke how much and negotiated him down to $3 but it was quite a long way - some of it up hill - so we paid him $4 anyway.
The next night we went to a paladar (?) Julia's on Obisco (quite near El Floridita). This is a private house where a family has a licence to serve food. Most restaurants are state run.) It's typical Cuban style with black bean stew, rice, very tasty casseroled pork, chicken, fried bananas and salad. There are only 3 tables and its very cheap and cheerful (around $6 - $8 each depending on what you have). Again, we thought we would probably be ill afterwards but the food was very good and we were fine.
We loved the experience of Havana. Old american cars really do lumber around the streets. The pollution index must be very high because they guzzle leaded fuel (or cooking oil!)
We were pestered a bit but remained polite and just kept saying no thankyou then they left us alone. We heard a few tales of fellow tourists being ripped off by various scams though.
The rooms are spacious and clean. The breakfast on the groundfloor is much preferable to that on the 9th floor. If you book by internet, make sure that the correct dates are on the confirmation, otherwise you pay the rack rate (an addition of 80%). Each time, when I tried to phone abroad and the line was busy, I was charged $ 4.00 - and that was corrected only after a heated debate.
We stayed in Hotel Sevilla for eight nights in May 2004. We were given a large and spacious room which was beautifully decorated and clean. However, the walls were ridiculously thin and we could hear everything our neighbours said (or screamed during the night...). Also, the big window was to the hotel's cafe where they always had a band playing. It was wonderful in the beginning but got a bit tiresome when we were sick in bed in the middle of the night.The chamber maid was extremely friendly, asked about our health when we were ill and each day arranged our towels into different swans and hearts.
Breakfast was okay, they often ran out of things like orange juice, croquettes or bread and the cutlery wasn't very clean. The worst thing about Hotel Sevilla was its service, excepting the chamber maid, everyone was extremely rude and slow. The personnel often neglected everyone who were waiting for help at reception, they yelled to each other at the top of their lungs incredibly early in the morning(4.30), waking up everyone on that floor, they ignored customers and instead gossiped with each other and were always grumpy and angry. The hotel's guard who watched our rental car for a night also tried double-charging us.
All in all, I would probably return to the same hotel if I ever go back to Havana because the hotel has an excellent location (you can practically walk everywhere from there and the Revolutionary Museum and Art Museum are its neighbours) and because the rooms were spacious and clean.
Stayed one night , then went to Vinales for four nights and back for one night, so I had two different rooms, one with queen sized bed and the other with 2 3/4 width beds. both overlooked the center air shaft so not much of a view. Safety deposit box comes with the room, great.
Bathrooms clean and well lit. Internet in the lobby $4 for 1/2 hour, so so in speed, funny keyboard. grub average but hot chocolate fabulous!.
Cashing traveller checks depends on timing as the girl showed up when she felt like it and was not too friendly. If you had to leave befor 9:30 am, good luck. Location great, but Ienjoyed myself more in the Casa Particulars
About the Sevilla in Old Havana
I stayed at the hotel Sevilla in Havana in September 2002 for 4 nights.
I picked the hotel because it is part of a French chain and they gave me an agent rate. First thing, some guy charged for parking outside the hotel. Who was I to argue? This is the first item on soak the tourists... I will advise anybody who wants a modicum of independence and flexibility to rent a car. It is expensive and the cars can be very small but public transportation stinks and taxis break down all the time. With a car, it is also possible to pick up hitchhikers The lobby is pretty nice. There is even Internet access which is expensive but it works. We were given a room with two single beds instead of a double and the sink fell off its moorings in the bathroom. We changed rooms twice until we could settle in something comfortable. The rooms are pretty big but not luxurious. There is satellite TV and you can watch CNN and ESPN in English. Breakfast is usually taken on the top floor with its great views of a decaying city but because of an incoming hurricane, we had to take breakfast downstairs. Food was awful.
Loved the Sevilla
I stayed at the Sevilla for three nights in mid January, 2004. If you want to feel like you are in old Havana - the Cuba of the 20's thru the 40's - this is the place to stay, if you don't want to deal with the steep prices of the Nacional along with their rather over-the-top arrogant staff. The Seville is beautiful. It has been renovated almost completely both inside and out - and they stuck with the old architecture and old styles of a bygone era. Very tastefully done. The indoor/outdoor courtyard bistro and the rooftop restaurant are both lovely. There is also an outdoor pool and pool bar.The location of the hotel couldn't be better if you want to walk around Old Havana. It is situated adjacent to the most famous, beautiful and clean tree lined pedestrian boulevard. The hotel is also directly across from the Fine Arts School which is in a lovely old building. The Revolution museum is kitty-corner to the hotel and the famous theater, two art museums and Batista's old Capitol building (now the Institute of Sciences) as well as the waterfront and several famous city squares and cathedrals are all within several city blocks from the hotel.Also within a couple of blocks are the Plaza and Parque Central Hotels. I would rate the Sevilla 4 1/2 stars by American standards. I toured several hotels in the city including the Plaza, Parque Central, Nacional, Havana Libre and Cohiba and in my opinion, the Parque Central is #1 - but very American and 5 star. The Nacional is #2 and the most beautiful old hotel in the city. I toured the Nacional and attended a show there. However, I found the staff to be arrogant and macho and I was overcharged for my drinks at the show. Although the hotel is more grand than the Sevilla I would go back to the Sevilla.On the main floor of the Sevilla there is a hallway of shops and services including cigar and liquor sales, rental cars, tour bookings and money exchange. I booked a cabaret at the Nacional Hotel, rented a car for a week and got American cash utilizing three different services at this hotel.Renting a car is extremely expensive and the prices didn't appear to be very negotiable - we all seemed to be paying approx. the same rate for a mid size car $85 a day ($60-$75 for a compact) - same rate if you take it for a week which I did. Often cars are not available at all. The make will likely be a Peugot - it will be relatively new - but you will get it dirty and they won't clean it for you - they'll just tell you it's already been cleaned even when you show them the dirt. The gas tank will have just enough gas in it to get you to a gas station. My gas gauge didn't work - but the car ran beautifully. Pot holes, horse and carriage riders, oxen-cart riders and bicycle riders and pedestrians are your biggest threat on the roads in the country side. If the people are holding ropes across the road, they are trying to stop you and they will tell you the road is closed - the road is likely not closed - they just need a ride somewhere and they will promise to show you the "detour" in order to get the ride. Picking up people was always a positive experience as they desperately need transportation and they help you with directions. No matter what anyone does for you they all just want one dollar for it. Just make sure you have lots of one dollar bills - they go quickly but you get help. There are NO road signs or street signs in the countryside, so maps are of little help. I didn't speak Spanish either - but managed quite well, as some folks have a little broken English. I hope this helps anyone planning a trip. Be prepared for absolute abject poverty within the city and in the countryside. The only automobiles that don't burn more oil than gas are the government owned taxis, police cars and government owned rental cars.There are little hostels and restaurants that are private and I ate at one restaurant near the the site of the old fort in Havana and it was a very casual, cute, outdoor cafe with lobster and crab dishes running between 10 and 15 dollars. Eating at any of the big city restaurants and hotels means you're eating at a government owned facility. The really elegant restaurants within the city are not private.The best thing to do in order to get a more personal view of the city and its people is hire one of the english speaking hotel workers on their off day and pay them $20 for a full day tour of the city plus meals and cabfare. I did that and had a wonderful experience. They won't have a car but will negotiate good taxi fares. Everyone I spoke with only worked 3 days a week - every other day. The salaries don't vary much - everyone seems to make between $7 and $10 a month no matter what they do.The hotel workers are often very educated professionals who chose to quit their profession, desperate for tip money. I tried to tip as much as I could afford.The city of Havana is unique in the incredible architecture - old columns, mosaics and arcades abound wherever you look. The potential is mind boggling, the poverty staggering. In general terms they are an obviously educated population and there are no visible street people.
Great room, great view
I was travelling in Cuba in August with my girlriend and travelled all round the island. Of all the city hotels I stayed in this was the best.
Our room was large and well furnished with a good bathroom and two double beds. It was definitely 4 star standard.
We were on the 8th floor and the view of centro habana was just amazing.
The restaurant on the 9th floor also offers incredible views of the capitolio, the sea and centro habana, though not really old havana.
There was some building work going on while we were there and we did hear people complaining about it but it was on the 3rd floor so we couldn't hear it.
We only had breakfast in the hotel but this was quite good (don't expect any food in Cuba to be very good or you'll be disappointed).
It was nice to have a pool to jump into too given the heat and humidity of the place. You'll want to turn your air-conditioning up for a nice gentle breeze when you walk into your room because the common areas aren't air conditioned. This does seem typical of Cuba though.
One more tip, watch out for hustlers in Havana because they will try anything to get you to part with your money.
By the way, I wouldn't take the advice of one of the other people who've posted on this hotel regarding staying at a hostel. The reason for this is because we spoke to one girl who was doing this and she said that the family she was staying with kept asking her for money, or to take them places.
Cubans are very good at playing the sympathy card. Showing you tattered pictures of their family and then asking you for money. Get used to saying no a lot because if you don't then you'll have people crowding round you asking for everything.
Bad beneath the surface
The Sevilla looks highly impressive when you walk into the reception area, with extensive tiling, spacious area, etc. When you get to your room, reality sets in. Rooms are tiny, grimy, air con hanging off the wall, and generally about the standard of a back-packers hostel. The staff are just about as inadequate. Then you find out that the place is a training centre for hotel staff, and that the main block used to be a hospital. It's all very 1920s historic, but I would never recommend it, except as a cuariosity.
Not money's worth
The standard of the hotel is pretty average. For the price you pay you do not get your moneys worth. The room we were given was very small and we had problems with warm water. But one has to bear in mind that all hotels are to this standard in Havana, unless you go for the 5star superior hotels. If i had to revisit (which i hope i will because i just fell in love with cuba) i would choose a hostel. These are very pretty little hotels, which are much cheaper and the standard of the rooms and facilities are the same.