By Alexander Britell
HAVANA — It’s the most famous hotel in Havana: the Nacional, the one where Frank and Mickey and Ernest used to stay from time to time.
Now, like much of Cuba’s hotel product, it’s a paean to another time, tour groups mingling with ghosts.
And while the Hotel Nacional has some of the city’s best food, it also has a secret: one of Havana’s best cigar shops, hidden away underground.
Unlike many other Casas del Habano around the city, this one is not well marked.
You only find it if you walk around past the lobby restaurant, around the corner, past the boutique and down to the far end of the hallway.
Then you find it: La Casa del Habano, with a cigar roller on the top floor and then, down the stairs, you find a large walk-in humidor, boxes upon boxes of puros and a rather comfortable smoking lounge.
And there you are, puffing on an H Upmann corona (almost like the now-discontinued Petit Corona JFK used to favor), sipping on a coffee beneath the photos of celebrities.
And all of Havana is above you.