Havana was always on my list of countries that I have to visit before it opens up to the world and before it loses its charm and authenticity.
I was invited to attend Chanel Cruise show in Cuba, the beauty of Cuba is indescribable. Believe the images. It will always remain a part of me.
Where to Stay
In Havana, there are two places I recommend to stay in, first is Saratoga hotel. It is also where Karl Lagerfeld and all Chanel top celebrities stayed, it’s a boutique 5 stars hotel, that is one of the best in Havana, if not the best. Sits on the fringes of Old Havana. The rooftop pool is the perfect spot for views of the Capitol building, baroque Grand Theatre, and the Atlantic ocean. Rooms are plush with velvet furnishings, mosaic-tiled bathrooms, and framed contemporary art.
Being part of 170 worldwide media, we stayed at the most iconic hotel in Cuba: The Hotel Nacional De Havana dating from the Thirties and the Grande Dame of the city’s hotels has a commanding position on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The hotel has played host to world presidents and international glitterati. . Opt for an executive room for an upgraded breakfast. After wandering through the dazzling Moorish-tiled lobby, settle down for a cocktail on the alfresco terrace while listening to the Cuban melodies of a live band.
Go with little expectations from a 5-star hotel when in Cuba, but enjoy the mood of the hotel and the vibe of the city!
Places to eat in Cuba
Lunch and dinner should all be booked in advance and planned, plus there are no quick options for a good dinner, so you have to choose the best restaurant to enjoy a good meal, most of top restaurants don’t have air condition and its all year long hot and humid, so make sure to ask when booking.
My favorite 3 restaurants are
In La Guarida, you will enjoy their variety of seafood, try their lobster, it is perfectly cooked! I loved their dessert too, this restaurant is famous because it has hosted in the past Queen Sophia of Spain, it’s a fascinating place to enjoy quality Cuban food.
The walls of this bar are covered with autographs and drawings left by celebrities who have enjoyed this restaurant that offers black beans and different grilled meat, this place is great at night and was one of Hemingways favorite places.
Situated up in a narrow staircase at the entrance of Plaza de la Cathedral, La Moneda Cubana offers a traditional Cuban cuisine, go for lobster petals or rings!
Things to do
Ernest Hemingway house is a must! It’s a unique experience to see up close Hemingway house and belongings, he had pretty a nice lifestyle!
When you are in the land of Che Guevara you should definitely go on a tour of the cigar factory, we had planned a tour at Cohiba factory, it is around 40 minutes form Havana…Its beautiful to see how artisans work on creating the most refined cigars…even if you do not smoke.
Plaza De Armas is the name for the main square in many Hispanic American cities and is definitely a must see!
Book a vintage car and let them drive you around the city, its an ultimate experience! It’s around 30 euros per hour, I enjoyed so much trying out different kind of vintage cars from the 40ies!
La Fabrica De Arte Cubano will amaze you! I was surprised that it only opens only on weekends, it’s a huge space for Cuban art, where every area plays different music, it opens at night only. A place to be!
How to get there
From Dubai, I flew with Air France to Paris and from Paris it’s a direct flight of 10 hours, in few months Emirates will launch their direct flight to Panama, it will be a good option, it is a 17 hours direct flight and then 3 hours from Panama to Havana
Zoya Sakr is the co-founder of 2pure ePublishing with her husband as the Group Editor-in-Chief operating five business and lifestyle portals, having debuted with the instantly popular nawa3em.com site, ra2ed.com, aimed at Arab men, and gheir.com, the first female luxury portal of its kind. You can read more on her diary in Cuba here
For more images of Cuba and Zoya’s trip click here