The land now occupied by the “HOTEL NACIONAL DE CUBA” was part of an area known in the early centuries of the colonial area as Monte Vedado (vedado – prohibited) because of a Spanish government decree banning the creation of paths to the beach in that area.
The constant attacks by pirates, followed by the capture of Havana by the English, prompted the construction of various fortifications, towers, batteries, including at this site (now occupied by the hotel gardens) the Santa Clara battery. Together with Havana’s old town (La Havana Vieja), this was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The remnants of this defence system, two cannons, are currently on display in the garden: the Krupp and the Ordóñez; the latter was the world’s largest in its day.
The promontory on which the hotel sits was known as the Loma de Taganana, a reference to the name by which a famous cave that lies beneath the hotel’s foundations was known for centuries, explaining the name Sala Taganana given to another of the establishment’s elegant function rooms.
The decision to build a luxury hotel was taken in the late 1920s. The American firms McKim, Mead & White and Purdy & Henderson Co., tasked with the planning and construction, completed the palatial edifice in 14 months.
The hotel exhibits an eclectic architectural style, reflecting Art Deco, Arabic references, features of Hispano-Moorish architecture, and both neo-classical and neo-colonial elements. There are even details from the centuries-old Californian style. The resulting unique example of so many schools of architecture is the most unusual and interesting hotel in the Caribbean region.
A number of rooms that have been occupied by the famous have been zealously conserved, several having been declared historic (those of Nat King Cole, Compay Segundo, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, María Felix, Johnny Weismuller, the Mafia bosses, Bola de Nieve, Tyron Power, Gary Cooper, Agustín Lara, Jorge Negrete, Mario Moreno, Stan Musial, Paul Casal, and Errol Flynn). On display in each are photographs and a biographical profile of their celebrated former occupant.
85 years of history give prestige to the classic, for distinction. The hotel National de Cuba, is considered a symbol of history, and Cuban identity. The hotel was diclared a National Monument and it was inscribed in the World Memory register.
With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the center of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea, and offers a great view of the Havana Harbor; the seawall and the city.
I had the privilege to stay at the National and it is really a great experience, to follow all those artists and famous people who came to the National. The American mafia had their annual meetings there during the recession.
The rooms are a bit old fashion but you will have all you need. Try to get one with the sea view.
The luxurus and elegant restaurant, “Comedor de Agular”, gives you the best of Cuban and international cuisine and a various wine list. You will find a few more restaurants in the hotel. One of the best cabaret as well , the ” Cafe Parisien”.Enjoy a cocktail in the logia facing the sea. Mojito and music go so nicely together.
Going to the National, is a trip back to the 1930’s.