Kempinski Blog Article
Made up of a rich tapestry of history, Havana is a city is full of contrasts. Spanish colonial buildings sit side-by-side with Art Deco structures, while influences from Cuba’s past with both the US and the USSR decorate the city. It feels like something of a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand distinct pieces falling into one - a beautiful one.
Equal parts romantic and lively, Havana is full of exciting finds and a holds a number surprises for visitors. Here are a few places to start your adventure in the City of Columns.
Walking around Havana can feel like stepping into a bygone era, due to the common sight of old cars, notably 1950s American classics. But this nostalgic feature isn’t reserved only for automobiles as Havana’s old town (Habana Vieja) has five centuries worth of architecture.
From Moorish-style Spanish buildings of the 1500s to French baroque styles, the timeless beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site draws visitors from all over the world.
Newly restored and renovated structures sit comfortably alongside buildings that have long fallen into disrepair, though ironically, the more disheveled streets and plazas each hold on to a unique and flawed beauty in their own way.
El Malecón offers five miles of gorgeous coastal views and a sunset that has seduced travellers, poets, philosophers and lovers for centuries. A perfect place to mix with locals, the long esplanade offers restaurants and bars, as well as an authentic open-air theatre. Being Cuba’s favourite social space for socialising, relaxing and meeting new people, it’s no wonder that El Malecón has been nicknamed ‘the world’s longest sofa’.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is just a short walk away from El Malecón and is the perfect base from which to explore Havana. Offering 246 rooms and suites with high ceilings and huge French windows that open out directly onto Old Havana, there is nowhere better to enjoy the city in luxury.
Get lost in Fusterlandia
A city of surprises, Havana also has a thriving art scene - perhaps not quite what you would expect. Aside from a selection of art galleries, museums and markets, the standout location is the district of Jaimanitas, colloquially named Fusterlandia, after the artist who put the location on the map.
Born out of a desire to create Gaudí-esque public work in his impoverished neighbourhood, Cuban artist José Fuster decorated his home with paintings and mosaics. After doing the same for friends and neighbours, its popularity grew and now quirky art that references everyone from Picasso to Gauguin spans the still-growing the neighbourhood.
A Taste of Cuba
Despite unique challenges with unreliable ingredient supply in Havana, Cuban determination and ingenuity should never be underestimated. Paladares (privately owned restaurants) are thriving, especially since the relaxing of economic laws in 2011.
Fine dining locations like Otramenera or La Guarida offer South American classics like guava gazpacho and grouper caimanero, but if you would like something a little more casual, visit one of the many street vendors for foods like churros, fried plantain or pan con bistec (a Cuban style seasoned pork burger).
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana has six bars and restaurants, each unique in their own ways. The San Cristobal Panoramic Restaurant specializes in Caribbean seafood and offers the best views from its terrace, while El Surtidor Pool Terrace and Bar on the rooftop is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing Mojito after a dip in the infinity pool.
Havana is a city that captures the imagination and excites the senses with its beauty, food and culture. Please contact our team at Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana if you would like to make a visit.