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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Old Havana's Hotels: A Unique Proposal for Leisure

The capital of the largest Antillean island, with a five-century-old history rich in traditions, provides the most demanding visitors with a wide variety of accommodation facilities, ranging from big hotels run by first-line firms to small hotels in Havana's historic heart.

It is precisely in this area, also known as Old Havana and declared World Heritage by UNESCO, where visitors can find most museums, churches, cultural centers and buildings that are closely linked to colonial times - including some 33,000 edifices mostly built during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Run by HABAGUANEX S.A., a company attached to the Office of the City's Historian, Old Havana's hotels operate as Spanish-style inns and are a perfect complement to Cuba's tourist industry, providing a touch of intimacy and simplicity that immediately attracts visitors.

These kinds of facilities, along with hotel giants with hundreds of rooms, point to the rescue of a tradition that is a few centuries old, when these small establishments would meet the accommodation needs of the big cities.

Those who like walking the streets and alleys of Old Havana can stay in any of the small hotels housed in colonial buildings, where time seems to stand still, and they can enjoy all the comfort demanded by modern tourism.

The first of these facilities to be opened was the 10-room Valencia Inn in 1989. El Comendador (14 rooms) followed later. Both establishments make up a complex that also includes the services of the Bodegón Onda, which offers Spanish bar snacks, special paellas and sandwiches.

Façade, El Comendador Hotel
Entrance, Los Frailes Hotel
Foyer, Tejadillo Hotel

As a general characteristic, visitors feel attracted to many conditions favoring rest and relaxation, such as the intimacy of small and comfortable halls and inner patios with plants and fountains.

Along with their common features, each of these facilities has peculiar characteristics to meet the demands of specific kinds of travelers.

For example, the 32-room Tejadillo, which consists of three big houses from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, has a kitchen in 17 rooms for those who prefer to cook their own meals.

Aficionados to good Cuban cigars have a place of preference at the Conde de Villanueva, the former mansion of that illustrious count, while the Mesón de la Flota, with its marine style, is a reminder of Cuba's position as the key to the Gulf during colonial times.

Other hotels are the Palacio de San Miguel and Los Frailes. The latter resembles an 18th century abbacy where employees wear Franciscan robes.

However, efforts to develop these kinds of facilities continue with more projects. That is the case of the Palacio de Cueto, Rachel, Marques del Prado and Ameno, which will join the network of Old Havana's hotels, meeting the demands of visitors interested in the Cuban capital's history.

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Calle Obispo No. 153 esq. a Mercaderes

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Calle Mercaderes No. 202 e/ Lamparilla y Amargura

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Calle Amargura esq. a San Ignacio

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Paseo del Prado esq. a Neptuno

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Calle Mercaderes esq. a Teniente Rey

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