Founded in 1875, the Inglaterra is Cuba’s oldest hotel and has been declared a National Monument. It was exceedingly popular in the nineteenth century and is still favoured by visitors who particularly enjoy hanging out in its covered café, having drinks or sandwiches on tables individually decorated by Cuban contemporary artists and watching the world go by.
A hiss through the potted plants could signal your chance to buy a coin with Che on it, or a newspaper, or rather more exotic wares. But if that vexes you there is always the wonderful Seville-style tiled bar to visit, with its gilded flamenco-dancer statue, thought to be of the celebrated nineteenth century Spanish courtesan La Belle Otero.
The rest of the ground floor of the Inglaterra is also lavishly decorated, with chandeliers, stained glass, ornate wrought iron, marble floors and moulded ceilings.
The pavement café has a distinguished history. It used to be known as La Acera del Louvre (the pavement of the Louvre café which stood on the site) and became a meeting place for supporters of Cuban independence from Spain. A prominent Spaniard was even converted to their cause on the site – on 27th November 1871, when the Spanish military captain Don Nicolás Estévanez, heard the shots of eight innocent medical students being executed he broke his sword in two and renounced his military career with the words ‘Humanity and justice are more important than my fatherland’. Stirring stuff, and although the Inglaterra isn’t one of Havana’s most shipshape hotels it is extremely popular for its evocative atmosphere and location.
Reception staff speak Spanish, English, French, German, Italian
Safety - uniformed security personnel 24hrs
Shop(s) with basic supplies, souvenirs & gifts
Shops max 2min walk
Snacks and drinks 24 hours a day
Telephone - national & international calls
Tours & tourist information desk
TV room/bar (international channels & videos)
Details of Standard Room with Balcony
Rooms at the Inglaterra are cosy rather than sleek, but given the age of the building it would be churlish to expect gleaming sophistication. The rooms come in all shapes and sizes and those facing the street are more spacious than those facing into the building’s courtyards.
Interiors are rather chintzy, with rose-strewn frills and flounces on curtains and bedspreads. The chandeliers are horrid but the old built-in cupboards are endearing. The modern furniture is slightly bashed about but the colonial rocking chairs found in some rooms are attractive. The original tiled floors are very pretty.
Please note none of the rooms at the Inglaterra are double-glazed. Please be prepared for a certain amount of ambient racket from canaries in cages, passing traffic and voluble Cubans
The heart and soul of Havana is the old town Habana Vieja, declared a Heritage of Mankind Site in 1982 by UNESCO. It was keen to preserve the beauty of its architecture and promote the historical importance of its role within the region.
The following are just some of the interesting places to visit: Plaza de Armas, centred around a statue of the patriot Cespedes and emcompassed by shaded marble benches and second-hand booksellers, is the first public square built in the city. Plaza de la Catedral is perhaps the most beautiful square in the Caribbean which is surrounded by examples of the finest baroque architecture in the country. El Templete, small neoclassical temple which marks the spot where the first Mass was said in 1519. Castillo de la Real Fuerza is one of the oldest forts in the Americas, it holds modern art exhibitions downstairs and the battlements afford good views over the harbour. Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the seat of government and governor's residence was transferred from the fort to the built. The presidential palace and then the municipal palace until Castro seized power it is now Museo de la Ciudad de la Habana. Museo de Arte Colonial, fine palace constructed in 1720, its yellow courtyard and little-altered architectural features are complemented by a large collection of 17th- and 18th-century furniture. Calle Obispo is Old Havana's most important and smartest thoroughfare, pedestrianized with missile heads as bollards.