Opening in Old Havana this spring is the Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana, the first ultra-luxurious hotel on the island of Cuba. Baroque Travel investigates
Since Barack Obama lifted the embargo on Cuba in 2015, this tropical Caribbean island has become a major tourist destination. But there were few luxe hotels to accommodate those with money to spend. And the moment Cuba opened to the public, those that were available, were immediately booked up.
Now all that is about to change. Opening this year in the heart of Old Havana is the largest, most modern and luxurious hotel in Cuba, the Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana, the perfect base from which to explore a gem of a country that has remained untouched, frozen in time for 60 years.
In the months since it has been open to the public once more, Cuba has retained its sense of magic and its untouched charm. The new hotel, which will open in spring 2017, is the latest endeavor of luxury hotel group Kempinski, the oldest company of its kind in Europe (it’s been around for 120 years). Kempinski currently boasts 75 luxury hotels and residences in more than 30 countries around the world.
As there is still a restriction on international companies building in Cuba, the hotel is located in a meticulously restored Neoclassical building that was originally built in the late 19th Century. Its first iteration was as Cuba’s first European-style shopping arcade called Manzana de Gómez that occupies an entire block. The area where it is situated is Old Havana, the Old City, which is part of Cuba’s capital city and was founded in 1519 by Spain. It has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel offers excellent views over the Old City, including the Capitol, the Great Theater of Havana and the legendary fish restaurant and cocktail bar where Ernest Hemingway used to dine, called El Floridita. There are numerous historic sites to explore in this charming old part of the city when one is not being indulged with every possible luxury in the superlative Kempinski Manzana La Habana.
The hotel is ideally located close to Old Havana’s main thoroughfare, Calle Obispo, which is lined with art galleries, fascinating shops and lively music bars. In addition, most of the city’s famous sights are within 10 minutes walk or drive from the hotel.
The five-story luxury hotel offers 246 spacious rooms and suites, all with high ceilings and French windows that open out onto the Old City. There are numerous facilities, including a state-of-the-art spa run by Resense, a fitness center and rooftop swimming pool as well as a selection of three excellent restaurants and bars, a one-of-a-kind cigar lounge and a rooftop restaurant and bar offering breathtaking views of the Old City. There will also be a business center.