There are several upscale hotels in Havana, and more are on the way as Havana slowly transforms into an upscale destination. Our experience at Hotel Saratoga convinced us of this hotel’s superiority based on the things that travelers value most in Havana including a good Internet connection, comfort and aesthetics. Its ideal location is also a major factor.
Across the street from the Capital building and next to La Habana Vieja (Old Havana), the hotel offers ideal access to the best parts of Havana, day or night.
Hotel Saratoga is the best example of a boutique hotel in Havana, and our rate of $280/night for a Deluxe Patio room (cheapest category) seemed reasonable compared to boutique hotels in other major cities in the off season. Rates in the high season for a similar room can exceed $400/night.
The hotel made headlines during Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s 2013 fifth wedding anniversary visit. They stayed in the famous Havana Suite.
The building that houses the hotel has a remarkable history. It was commissioned by the Spanish merchant Eugenio Palacios between 1879 and 1880. In 1935 it was considered one of Havana’s most important hotels, with the comfort and recreational facilities fashionable at the time – but especially because of its colonnade, where the most prominent Cuban musicians played local rhythms, and particularly “son.”
The building preserved its vitality until the 60s when the revolutionary government nationalized it. Later it became a low class rooming house with many sub-partitions until it was finally closed down due to neglect and deterioration. It was renovated in 2005 to its current glorious condition.
The hotel has 96 rooms including 7 suites and various junior suites and is managed to an international 5-star standard. It has 49 junior suites with the rest being deluxe patio rooms. There are two restaurants and three bars.
We were pleasantly surprised by the hotel-wide Internet access. We spent a few hours in the rooftop pool/bar area with our laptops connected at reasonable speeds. This differs greatly from our experience at other business hotels where Internet connections are available only in the lobby and at slow speeds. Also, we were not required to purchased Internet cards for access. Perhaps the hotel has its own satellite link?
Another feature of the Saratoga’s rooftop is the Mirador restaurant perched on the best corner of Havana.
There are 270º views of the city – and virtually all tables enjoy a direct view of the Capitol building in La Habana Vieja.
The Mirador offers a special service for cocktails, parties and gala events. Otherwise, diners can take advantage of epic sunset views and enjoy the light menu self-served from the pool bar (itself a fine maker of cocktails). If you don’t mind eating from the pool-bar menu, this location is an small, private place to absorb the rich colonial architecture that comes alive in waning sunlight.
The rooms at Hotel Saratoga are by far the best we’ve seen in Havana. They are stately and well-preserved from an earlier era. Rooms feature air conditioning, marble bathrooms, crown molding, satellite TV and room service. The hotel was by far the cleanest hotel we experienced. And the morning breakfast buffet was a nice addition to our stay.
Another of Hotel Saratoga’s advantages is the rare ability to book your room online and pay via credit card. No hotels in Cuba are able to process credit cards in person – an island-wide problem – but some offer the special ability to pay online. In fact, we found ourselves running low on cash and used this payment method to relieve our situation. Rarely does technology offer relief in Cuba, but in this case we got lucky.
Address: Paseo del Prado 603, esquina a Dragones, La Habana, Cuba
Tel: +53 7 8681000