The Hotel Habana Libre (Hilton) of Havana !!!

A big task considering was a beautiful city now mostly in ruins unless Unesco has provided some funds, This is my native capital City, the city where I spent a great part of my very early life until 10 years old, For family or business was lucky to visit it in 1984, 1998, and 2012 , This City is Havana or La Habana or the full name San Cristobal de La Habana, the capital of the Republic of Cuba.  This is my Habana and would like to share some of the emblematic hotels which visited with my parents as a boy and later visits, This is the Hotel Habana Libre (former Hilton ), Hope you enjoy the post as I.

Havana Hotel Habana Hilton O Libre 1998

The Hotel Habana Libre (Hilton) is one of the greatest hotels in Cuba, located at Calle 23 (“La Rampa”) and Calle L The hotel has 572 rooms in a tour of 25 stages , 532 Standard Double, 37 Standard Junior Suit, 1 Presidential Suit and 2 Standard Senior Suit. It was inaugurated on March 22, 1958, it then bears the name of Habana Hilton, it was the largest hotel in Latin America at the time. It belongs to the American group Hilton Hotels & Resorts . It was kept as the Hilton for a year and one half without success. On July 11 1960, the communist government nationalise it. (one reason of the current embargo), It featured a Trader Vic’s restaurant, casino, dining room, billiards room, and a bar on the hotel’s rooftop. For info below pic shows on left Yara, the revolutionary new name for what is was Radiocentro!

Havana Hotel Hilton o Libre from coppelia 1998

After coming to power in 1959, the already dictator moved into suite 2324 at the Habana Hilton. For three months, the hotel becomes the nerve center of the Cuban revolution, but hotel service continues in the rest of the skyscraper. (the room is now an art gallery).   During the following years, the hotel, already operated by the Cuban communist government, focused on national tourism, losing much of the prestige it had generated with its opening. For some years the hotel, underused for its original use, was repurposed for many other functions; Among them, it stood out for operating for some time as the Embassy of the Soviet Union in Cuba. Later, the hotel operated again to house important foreign personalities during their stay on the island. In 1996, the Spanish chain Sol Meliá took over the management of the hotel together with the government. It was placed in its Tryp division of urban hotels and renamed Hotel Tryp Habana Libre. It was renovated between 1996 and 1997. Among the highlights of the work was the restoration of a huge original mural by artist Amelia Peláez above the main entrance, which had spent decades hidden from public view.

In its facade there is a beautiful ceramic fresco of 640 square meters of Amelia Peláez and the Car of the Revolution, the work of Alfredo Sosa Bravo, who used 525 pieces of ceramic to make it. Currently the hotel houses shops, and you can find there the Sculpture of Clepsidra, a 10 meter high column, in metal and glass, emerging from a fountain located in the hall, among other pieces recognized by prestigious potters, sculptors and craftsmen in the living rooms, hallways and bedrooms.

Havana Hotel Hilton o Libre lobby 1998

Inside you will find the brand new and famous Casa del Habano (cigar house) and in its highest floor the famous cabaret Turquino, The Sierra Maestra is one of the most famous restaurants in Havana. Also, El Barracón the ideal place to enjoy an authentic adventure with a Cuban flavor. The decoration recalls the houses of the villages, Polinesio ,with the spirit of the Pacific Islands and a place where time sits still. Also, the Las Antillas buffet as varied as the rosary of islands and keys that inhabit the Caribbean. La Rampa , a cafeteria takes its name after a popular section of Havana and offers a wide assortment of dishes for breakfast and lunch as well as fast food dinners and take-outs. I cannot tell you the current conditions of these eateries.

The Spanish group Melia, which owns the Habana Libre, has reportedly tried several times to do renovation work. Several renovation projects were imagined between 2011 and 2019, but all of them turned into “mission impossible”. No less than ten floors of the hotel are currently closed because they are completely unusable and, at best, two elevators are working out of the six that make up the Habana Libre. Of course. The hotel’s strategic location permits easy access to the most important points of interest, such as the Cathedral (4 km), the port (4 km), the Congress & Conventions’ Center (10 km), the International Airport (17 km), the beautiful Playas del Este beaches (20 km), Varadero (140 km) and Pinar del Río (147 km).

The official Melia hotels on the Habana Libre

The official Melia Cuba site on the Habana Libre

The pictures all date from 1998, and 2012  when I made a business and family trip to introduce to my family there to my French wife Martine and boys, which they enjoy much. One more post down memory lane, many moments spent with the family now almost all gone from there. One of them was the Hotel Habana Libre (Hilton). I was the first one out 52 years ago !!, Havana is a city to fall in love for no matter what period of time in history you may choose to visit.  Enjoy the ride into nostalgia land. Again, hope you enjoy the post as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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