Hotel Santa Isabel, Old Havana, Havana, Cuba
Address: Calle Baratillo 9 e Obispo y Narciso Lopez, Plaza de Armas
Palatial in magnitude and elegance, the Santa Isabel enjoys what is perhaps the most privileged location of all hotels in the area: facing the charming Plaza de Armas (a cobbled square flanked by colonial-era constructions, museums and restaurants), the long, three-storey property is literally in the very heart of Old Havana, close to the sightseeing beat’s most interesting sites.
The colonial grandeur of the façade is well matched by the large, air-conditioned lobby, where crystal chandeliers, ostentatious upholstered sofas, and period furnishings take one back to the time the property was owned by the Count of Santovenia, a member of 19th century Cuban nobility. A less formal and more relaxed atmosphere is found in the shady Spanish-styled courtyard which adjoins the lobby, where one can enjoy a fine cocktail or quiet read at one of the tables surrounding the central fountain.
Off the lobby is the Condado, a posh restaurant appointed with antique furnishings that extends the general mood of elegance found elsewhere in the hotel.
In addition to affording a spectacular view of the Plaza, the hotel rooftop is a place of some historical significance: in 1830, the Count arranged for a hot-air balloon, carrying a flower-decked basket, to lift off from here, in honour of princess María Isabel Luisa. Though some efforts have reportedly been devoted to re-staging this spectacle as part of the hotel’s entertainment offer, guests will have to content themselves with the magnificent vista, refreshing breezes and recorded music for the time being.
Accommodations at the Santa Isabel have the colonial charm found at several other Habaguanex hotels. The long terrace overlooking the Plaza, shared by west-facing rooms, is doubtless one of their most attractive features. The hotel suite has also known a number of famous guests, including ex-US President Jimmy Carter, Jack Nicholson and Sting.
The Santa Isabel is the kind of formal, high-class establishment that might not suit all tastes or wallets. For those who can afford this rather pricy establishment, the hotel has plenty of history, colonial appeal and an unparalleled location to offer.
Art Gallery - Baby sitter - Bar - Cafeteria - Car rental Cyber Cafe - Laundry service - Lifts - Parking - Restaurant - Shop - Solarium - Taxis - Tourism bureau
110v & 220v power - Air Conditioning - Balcony - Cold & hot water - Hair dryer - In-room safe - Internet access - Minibar - Private Bathroom - Room service - Telephone - TV Satellite
Old Havana Travel Guide
Old Havana, which for centuries was inside the walled part of the city, was founded in late 1519. Havana's historic center covers approximately 142 hectares and contains around 3,500 buildings, one seventh of which are of great value. The following are just some of the interesting places to visit: Plaza de Armas (Arms Square) is the most ancient social, political and military core of colonial time. Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square) has one of the most beautiful baroque façades in all of Latin America.
El Templete is a small building of neoclassic style built in 1828 in the place where, under the shade of a ceiba tree, the first mass was said in 1519. Castillo de la Real Fuerza was built between 1558 and 1578 and is the most ancient fortress of Havana City. Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Captain General’s Palace) is one of the most emblematics of the Cuban baroque. The Parque Central is a square located in the heart of the historical center of Havana, near Paseo del Prado and El Capitolio Building. The Edificio Bacardi (Bacardi Building) is one of the finest examples of the Art Deco movement in Cuba. El Floridita is by far the classiest of the many Hemingway hangouts in Habana.
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