Hotel Saratoga, elegance and excellence
Many of Cuba's cars and buildings may still be stuck in the 1950s, but its hotels, at least, are finally moving into the 21st century. Leading the way is Havana's Hotel Saratoga, which epitomized the city's high life until it fell victim to neglect and disrepair.
Now the hotel has been restored to its former glory, offering guests all the five-star facilities that have eluded the city for so long. Located on a corner of the old town that overlooks the Capitolio --a gleaming replica of Washington's dome -- the Saratoga boasts a rich and colorful heritage.
In the 1930s, writers, artists and socialites gathered under its colonnade to enjoy acts like the Anacaona all-girl orchestra, a band of sisters who played salsastyle son music decades before the world heard of the Buena Vista Social Club. But not long after Fidel Castro's revolution, the hotel had deteriorated into a seedy boarding house.
An international consortium rebuilt the Saratoga in 2005, maintaining its original neoclassical facade. Floor-to-ceiling French windows with mahogany shutters frame wrought-iron balconies, and inside there's Internet access in each room, wi-fi in communal areas and top-end gym equipment.
Nothing says you're in Cuba more than a cigar and a mojito. Savor both in the Saratoga's airy, palm-filled atrium cooled by antique ceiling fans, or indulge in the inventive tapas menu at the Anacaona Restaurant, which spices up Cuba's typical cuisine by adding European flair.
The hotel's rooftop pool overlooks the Partagas cigar factory, the opera house and, around the corner, Floridita, one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite bars and home of the Daiquiri cocktail. A modern hotel with lots of nostalgia.
Many lovers of the Cuban cigars "Habanos" have a perfect operation base in it, because of its proximity with the legendary cigar factory "Partagas" and its "Casa del Habano" a very crowded place by smokers from all over the world.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the wall of Havana began to be a hindrance to the development of the city, whose urbanization was growing fast. After several requests to the metropolis for demolition, it finally took place on August 8, 1863. From then on, a vertiginous expansion of construction took place, to a greater extent, of private initiatives.