24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Saratoga, Havana, Cuba

Modern glamour, Cuban style

The grand dame of Cuban hotels, the Nacional, might once have been
the place to stay in Havana, but it is now largely the preserve of tour groups. Those in the know looking for a bit of old-world glamour mixed with modern-day luxury head instead to the Hotel Saratoga.

A gracious neo-classical building on the edge of Old Havana, in its 1930s heyday the Saratoga was the realm of visiting celebrities and socialites. They appreciated its gastronomic reputation, and the entertainment from its women-only orchestra.

The Saratoga was originally only three-storeys high. But after a period of decline it received a complete revamp in 2005. This included the addition of a further two storeys which blend seamlessly with the original facade. There is also an airy atrium, sleek bars, the Moorish-designed Anacaona restaurant (with folding wooden screens, tiled walls and wrought-iron grills), and a glamorous rooftop pool and bar.

The elegant new interiors are a mix of contemporary and classic design: the Mezzanine Bar, for instance, has a black-and-white tiled floor with rattan and mahogany furniture.

Today, the Saratoga is the only real five-star hotel in the Cuban capital in terms of the facilities an international clientele would expect: internet that works, state-of-the-art gym, spa, business centre, concierge and a choice of bars and restaurants.

I splashed out after a few nights staying in Old Havana at the Hotel del Tejadillo. The guesthouse is one of a handful of state-run historic properties; but only nine of the 32 rooms had windows.

From my Junior Suite on the top floor of the Saratoga I could see the sea in the distance. Later, as I sipped a mojito on the rooftop bar, the dome of the Capitol building was at eye level.

Location

The hotel is on the edge of the historic quarter (La Habana Vieja) overlooking the lawns and palm trees of Fraternity Park and diagonally opposite the elegant Capitol building. On the other side of the park is the Partagas cigar factory.

Comfort

There are 96 rooms and suites, from deluxe patio rooms facing the inner courtyard, to Junior, Prado, Capitolio and Habana Suites. Prado Suites have a canopied bed in the colonial style looking down onto a seating area below, floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony. The Capitolio suites overlook the Capitol building and have a colonial style tub in the bathroom. The corner Habana Suites have wrought-iron balconies.

In my Junior Suite the bed was romantically canopied and marshmallow soft, with crisp white sheets. The room was light, airy and contemporary with a cream tiled floor and accented with splashes of colour – a textured apple green valance and raspberry linen headboard. And from the padded window seats there were those panoramic views out of the arched attic-style windows.

Hotel Saratoga, Prado 603, Dragones, La Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba (00 53 7 868 1000; hotel-saratoga.com).

Rooms 5 stars
Value 4 stars
Service 4 stars

Doubles start at 340CUC (£227), room only. I paid £125 through Hotelopia (hotelopia.co.uk) but upgraded at reception to a junior suite for an additional 55CUC (£37).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent