Robaina's plantation

Friday 8 July 2011

Conde de Villanueva, Habana Vieja

        There are tons of options when it comes to accomodations in Cuba, especially in Havana. Hotels are the obvious and sometimes only way to go. They're the ones you see in the travel brochures. They're the safe bet as far as getting something in a North American standard. The Melia Cohiba, Hotel Saratoga & Parque Central are good examples but there's a whole bunch of others. Another way to go is to rent an apartment or a room with a Cuban family. I like to rent an independant, private apartment with no family. A third option is the boutique hotel. Large colonial mansions converted into a small hotel with just a few rooms. There are many of these types of hotels in Old Havana but beware, no WIFI or internet connection in your room & sometimes no vehicle access.
         One I especially like is Conde de Villanueva. Claudio Martinez de Pinillos y Cevallos, second Count of Villanueva was the original owner & the reason for the hotel's name. It's located in the heart of  Old Havana on Calle Mercaderes, within walking distance of everything. You could stay there one week & not walk outside a one mile radius and feel you've had a full vacation. The hotel has only 9 rooms (7 standared & 2 junior suites) & caters to cigar smokers. The rooms are arranged around a courtyard on 2 levels & are named after Tobacco growing regions. The rooms are beautifully decorated & comfortable & there's a lovely restaurant downstairs but the big attraction for many cigar enthusiasts is the cigar shop on the 2nd level. It has your usual selection of brand name cigars but Reynaldo is the man they come to see. Many aficionados love the cigars rolled by Reynaldo. People either order them in advance before they arrive to Cuba or purshase any that are always on hand. To the people who know, they are some of the best on the island. Some people say they are the best. Consistant & perfectly rolled, something very important to a cigar smoker. Full bodied, rich flavour & I enjoy one everytime I'm there. Imagine stepping out of your room in the morning, taking a few steps to the shop & having a cigar rolled fresh to your specifications to go with your 1st espresso. Heaven

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