Distinguished and stylish, the Nacional is as remarkable for its history as for the superb location that it enjoys. The eight-storey Spanish-style property rises on a hill-top overlooking the Malecon, affording guests and visitors panoramic vistas of both the Old Town and Vedado district. Once a site of pirate landings and a Cuban stronghold during Havana’s one-year siege by the British, the majestic gardens that surround the hotel are a formidable and welcoming spot after a day of sightseeing and as relaxing a place to enjoy a drink and a sweeping view of the Caribbean as you can hope for.
A well-dressed porter welcomes guests at the entrance of a long, soaring lobby, where the Hotel’s luxurious, aristocratic ambience immediately strikes the eye (the eclectic combination of Moorish tile-work, Elizabethan chandeliers and ceiling beams, recalling a Medieval church, may help explain why world-renowned Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier once referred to the edifice as an “enchanted castle”). The lobby is often teeming with visitors and tour groups; coupled with the ever-busy bar just beyond the doors that open onto the gardens, this gives one the feeling of a hotel that never sleeps.
Equipped with six bars and a well-known cabaret, the hotel is also a setting for live son performances, aquatic spectacles and even sporadic fashion shows, not to mention the venue for the Havana International Film Festival in December, when one is likely to spot renowned figures of Cuba’s culture and art scene and even the occasional Hollywood star. The Nacional, however, is not aimed exclusively at night-owls or entertainment-seekers: a well-equipped business centre, currency exchange locale, nine meeting rooms (including the spacious Taganana Hall, used for press conferences) offering interpretation services, and an entire executive floor with express check-in and cyber-café accom?date the business traveler and convention or congress participant alike.
Boasting a guest-list crammed with such personalities as Johny Weissmuller and Buster Keaton and illustrious figures like Winston Churchill and the Duke of Windsor, the Hotel Nacional’s restored and welcoming accommodations are a window to a bygone era of class and distinction.