When you think of Cuba, a few things spring to mind – mainly cigars, rum and vintage cars. And, thanks to Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, luxury holidays will soon be added to that list.
Havana has opened its doors to the first five-star hotel, a 246-room property packed full of opulence, at the end of May this year.
Nestled perfectly in the old part of town, within the historic Manzana de Gomez, the building was formerly Cuba’s first shopping centre, until it was recently taken over by the Swiss hotel firm.
The rooms come complete with incredible high ceilings, dramatic chandeliers, top notch fixtures and fittings, and shower rooms you never want to escape from.
Looking out through the balcony doors, you’ll feel transported to another world as you look out onto the old streets of Cuba.
And, when you eventually leave the cocoon of your room, there is a rooftop terrace, complete with an infinity pool, spa, and unparalleled views of spanning the whole of Havana, waiting for you on the sixth floor.
A cigar lounge, complete with tobacco sommelier, can be found on the second floor, as is a lounge bar with every type of rum imaginable – including their famous Havana Club. The bar staff are also knowledgeable about cocktails, and will make you any concoction your heart desires, even if it isn’t on the menu.
While internet and phone reception is notoriously hard to come by, the hotel supply wifi cards which will keep you connected to home – but there is so much to see and do, it’s best to keep your mobile safely in your pocket and your eyes firmly on the historic landscape.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is situated right in the heart of the city, and sits just across the street from the world famous Floridita bar, the birth place of the daiquiri.
Legend has it Ernest Hemingway was a huge fan of the place, and after one drink, you will be a convert, too.
If you’re more of a mojito fan, you’re in luck as La Bodeguita del Medio is also in walking distance of the hotel, and is said to have the best cocktails in the city.
There are plenty of activities to fill your days with, including an unmissable rum and cigar tour in Palacio de Artesanía. Even if this doesn’t sound up your street, give it a go as their infamous Havana Club could surprise you.
And, of course, the one thing you must do when in Havana, above all others, is a classic car tour. There is no other experience like driving around the old town in a vintage vehicle as the sun sets in front of you.
My best two pieces of advice for Cuba – go soon, before it changes before your eyes, and embrace the disconnection from home.