Robaina's plantation

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Hotel Santa Isabella (Plaza de Armas) Havana

               When Hotel Santa Isabel was built in the XVII century, the three-story structure didn't start out as a hotel. Occupying an entire block in front of the Plaza de Armas between Calle Obispo and Narciso Lopez, the building belonged to Rafael Perez del Prado, a very wealthy man. The mansion became part of the first aristocratic neighborhood of Havana. From the early 1600's until 1867, the property was home to a number of wealthy and important people. In 1865, the second Count of Santovenia died leaving the house to Jose Maria Martinez de Campos y Martin. Jose Maria settled in Europe 2 years later renting the property to Colonel Luis Lay from New Orleans who transformed the building into the Hotel Santa Isabel. An article was published in a New York paper in 1868 talking about the hotel, the finest at that time....each lodging was equipped with a bathroom and room service was provided.
               By the mid 1900's, after being converted to a warehouse and offices, it became multi family housing. Not long afterwards, in the 1980's, the deterioration of the building really began to show. It was rescued by the Office of the Historian of Havana, Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, who began the restoration process. Hotel Santa Isabel was reborn in February 1997.
               The hotel has priceless views of Havana Bay, I was able to go to the roof many years ago and see for myself. I wasn't so lucky recently, I was only able to have a beer and smoke my cigar in the Courtyard Bar....a wonderfully relaxing space. The hotel has only 27 rooms, 13 double rooms & 4 twin all with a balcony/terrace as well as 9 junior suites with views of the Plaza de Armas and one suite. Although I've never stayed here, from what I've seen and read, the rooms look a bit dated. Some of the more recent famous guests have been; Jack Nicholson, Sting & ex-US president Jimmy Carter. There is no parking, swimming pool or a gym but the hotel contains several restaurants and the Lobby Bar. Hard to beat the location.

Hotel Santa Isabella
Calle Baratillo #9 e/ Obispo y Narciso Lopez
Phone: (537) 801 1201

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