To visit Havana, the capital of Cuba, is considered a Wonder City of the World, and simply is a marvelous place. Many people who have already visited Cuba, return here again and again only to spend more time in the county’s capital, wander its streets and immerse themselves into the colonial atmosphere of Havana. However, whether you visit Havana for a few days or for a whole month you need a place to stay. There are plenty of options for lodging in Havana, from small rooms in an apartment to expensive luxury hotels. Depending on your needs, you may choose any of these options and stay in any part of the city. Here is guide that will help you to decide which option is best for you.
Staying in Old Havana
Old Havana, the heart of the city, is perfect place to stay for first-timers. Staying here will allow you to feel Havana’s charm at its finest. If you stay in Old Havana, you will be close to most of the city’s main tourist attractions, which will allow you to familiarize with Havana, if it is your first time here.
Pros: There is a big variety of accommodation, many lodgings are located inside historical buildings.
Cons: Many tourists complain about the noise, touristy area.
Things to do in Old Havana:
- Take a tour around Havana’s four main Plazas (squares)
- Visit the many museums located in this part of the city
- See Havana’s oldest fortresses
- Explore Cuban art through expositions, theater performances and architecture
Where to stay in Old Havana
Hotels in Old Havana
None of these hotels are on the US hotel sanctions list. This means anyone can stay there: Americans and non-Americans alike.
The Hotel Parque Central is located right next to the Capitolio and has a beautifully instagrammable pool at the very top . This is one of the newer hotels in the city.
This hotel opened in 1908. The architects of the building were inspired by the Moorish motifs of Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It has a long and eventful history. In 1939 the US mafia took over this hotel, and it was run by a group headed by Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Santo Trafficante. When famous singer Josephine Baker was denied entry at the Hotel Nacional because she was black, the Hotel Sevilla welcomed her with open arms.
The Hotel Saratoga also has a rooftop pool if that’s important to you. This is the hotel where the rich and famous stay, such as Beyoncé, Jay Z, as well as Madonna.
Casas Particulares in Old Havana
Staying in El Vedado
Vedado was built as a residential area, and now it is a perfect place to stay for those who want to experience Havana’s nightlife. It is the downtown of the city, where most of the bars and nightclubs are located. One of the most famous Cuban nightclubs, the FAC, also known as Fabrica, is also located here.
Pros: It is located in the city center, with easy access to all spots of interest for tourists.
Cons: Accommodations, especially private ones, may be expensive.
Things to do in Vedado
- Party at the nightclubs and bars of this area
- Eat ice cream at Coppelia
- Watch a movie at the many cinemas located here
Where to stay in Vedado
Hotels in El Vedado
This place was formerly known as the Havana Hilton, and was also run by US mafia interests. It was renamed after Fidel Castro took over Cuba, from Havana Hilton to Havana Libre (Free Havana). Today it remains one of the most iconic buildings in the city.
The Hotel Nacional also has a rich history. It even has a room dedicated to all the famous visitors it had, which include Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre. More recently supermodel Naomi Campbell has stayed there.
The Melia is a newer hotel, which can also be an advantage. This large complex has multiple restaurants, and of course, a cigar shop.
Casas Particulares in El Vedado
Vedado has one of the widest selection of casas in all of Havana, from one bedroom apartments to colonial villas!
Staying in Centro Habana
This neighborhood is the best area for the budget conscious. It is located close to the historical part of the city, but is not a tourist area. Instead, it is the most densely populated part of Havana, where you can feel close to the real Cuba, as the locals see it.
Pros: Budget accommodation may be found here.
Cons: There is a lot of street noise, and most buildings are shabby.
Things to do in Centro Habana:
- Visit the Capitol building
- Stroll down the Malecon promenade
- Learn about the cigar making process at the Partagas factory
- Immerse in Afro-Cuban culture at Callejon de Hamel
Where to stay in Centro Habana:
There are not many good hotels in area, most lodgings are Casas Particulares
Hosted by Isidro and his family, this house is a walking distance away from Old Havana. Isidro is an experienced host: he is a superhost on Airbnb.
This casa is run by Alberto and Silda, a married couple that have been renting out since the 1990’s. Again, this place is within walking distance of all the sites of Old Havana.
This residential area is the best place to stay for families. It is the diplomatic zone of the city, where many of the embassies are. Many expats live here, there is a good range of good quality restaurants and nightlife venues.
Pros: It is a very quiet and safe area.
Cons: Far from most of the tourist spots of the city.
Things to do in Miramar:
- Visit the Havana dolphinarium
- Take your kids to El Gelato
- Go to the Carlos Marx theater
- Enjoy the nightlife
- Spend an evening at the seashore
Where to stay in Miramar:
This five-star hotel is located opposite the Miramar business center and the Miramar conference center. If that’s why you are in Havana, it is an extremely convenient location.
- Hotel Panorama
- Chateaux Miamar
- Memories Miramar
If you need help planing your trip you can hire a local trough ViaHero – a trip planning platform that will connect you to a local in Cuba to plan your legal trip to Cuba. A local can help you decide which neighborhood is most suitable for you and give you lodging recommendations as well. With ViaHero you get a completely customized travel itinerary with offline maps and recommendations from locals in Cuba.