Looking for the five-star treatment on your next trip to Cuba? High-end boutique experiences were rarer than snow on the island during its post-revolution years but times have certainly changed (though we’re still waiting for a white Christmas!). These days, elegant colonial mansions are being transformed into boutique homestays and world-renowned luxury companies, such as Kempinski, are taking over iconic buildings.
While it’s a good idea to manage your expectations when delving into the world of Cuban luxury, there are certainly a handful of places we can recommend if you’re looking for a stylish journey. In Cuba, VIP experiences may not fulfil strict international standards for top-end accommodation but any shortcomings will be more than made up for by the amazing warmth of Cuba’s people and vibrancy if its culture. Read on to discover our pick of Cuba’s most refined hotels and private homestays offering added bonuses, extra services, and impeccable taste.
Hotel Gran Manzana Kempinski La Habana
In a league of its own, the Gran Manzana was inaugurated in June 2017 after a 5-year restoration of the historic Manzana de Gómez building and is by far Cuba’s top accommodation. Perfectly placed in Havana’s Parque Central, it boasts a direct view of the Capitol and the Great Theatre of Havana amidst the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town. The Gran Manzana sports 246 stylish rooms and suites with extra high ceilings and French windows opening out to the city’s old quarter. Guests can experience a variety of onsite restaurants and bars, including the atmospheric cigar lounge with an Habanos cigar sommelier and rooftop restaurant and bar. Relax in the Kempinski's sumptuous spa, state-of-the-art fitness centre or breathtaking rooftop pool, it doesn’t get classier than this!
Bedroom in Hotel Gran Manzana Kempinsky
Location: San Rafael between Monserrate & Zulueta, Old Havana
Paradisus Río de Oro Resort & Spa
Consistently ranked as the best hotel in Guardalavaca, Holguín, the Paradisus Río de Oro sits on an idyllic beach cove near the Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park. This all-inclusive, adults-only resort features some of the most lavishly arranged suites and villas in all of Cuba. Suites include private whirlpool tubs and access to a private lounge while villas come equipped with private pools. Room service is available which is a real rarity in Cuba. The resort offers 8 restaurants and 7 bars, plus an excellent beach area, a spa and a gym. For the diving enthusiasts, there’s a pristine marine platform just a few meters from the shore. Holguín enjoys access to the world’s second-largest coral reef.
Paradisus Rio de Oro Main View
Paradisus Rio de Oro Swimming Pool
Location: Playa Esmeralda, Guardalavaca road, Holguín
Read more about Holguin in Romerias de Mayo: Holguín's Cultural Showcase
Royalton Hicacos Resort & Spa
The Royalton Hicacos is an award-winning all-inclusive resort, ranked #1 in Varadero on TripAdvisor as. Elegant and luxurious, this adults-only hotel offers an excellent array of amenities, such as a spa, fitness room, a tropical-themed pool complex, luxury dining across 5 restaurants, and even an onsite nightclub. Guests can indulge in an extensive range of sports activities and excursions – from salsa dancing and beach volleyball, to catamaran sailing and snorkelling. This is without a doubt the best all-inclusive on Varadero’s powdery white sands.
Royalton Hicacos Swimming Pool
Royalton Hicacos Bedroom
Location: Autopista Sur, Las Morlas road km. 15, Varadero
Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa
Paradisus Princesa del Mar is a luxury all-inclusive eco resort located on Cuba’s magnificent Varadero beach. An adults-only hotel, it features 3 large lagoon pools and 5 outdoor hydromassage pools. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of a la carte restaurants and stylish bars serving cocktails, wines, juices and more. Facilities are elegant and refined, guaranteeing a top-end experience on Cuba’s most popular beach.
Paradisius Princesa del Mar Pool
Bedroom in Paradisius Princesa del Mar
Location: Autopista Sur, Las Morlas road km. 19.5, Varadero
Royalton Cayo Santa María
A sumptuous and chic adults-only resort set on a postcard-perfect Caribbean beach, Royalton Cayo Santa María prides itself its dedicated and attentive staff who offer guests a personalised service. Rather than imposing high-rise blocks, several two storey buildings, dotted throughout the lush grounds, play host to 122 well-appointed suites. Butler service comes as standard. Guests can enjoy three à la carte restaurants, a cafe and four bars serving premium drinks, all included in all-inclusive package.
Royalton Cayo Santa Maria Swimming Pool
Bedroom in Royalton Cayo Santa Maria
Location: Cayo Santa María, Caibarién, Jardines del Rey, Villa Clara
Hotel Iberostar Parque Central
The Iberostar Parque Central Hotel is an elegant 5-star hotel, located in the heart of Havana’s Old Quarter. With a privileged location, this hotel is surrounded by streets full of music and is a stone's throw away from the main tourist areas in the Cuban capital, as well as the most popular entertainment places (such as the Floridita Bar or La Bodeguita del Medio). With its elegant colonial architecture and high-quality services (including the coveted room service!), the Iberostar Parque Central has earnt itself the reputation of being the best hotel in Havana. This iconic establishment will make your family or couple vacation in Havana a truly unique experience.
Interior of Iberostar Parque Central
Iberostar Parque Central Rooftop Swimming Pool
Location: Neptuno corner Paseo de Martí, Centro Habana
Hostal Madero B&B
An oasis of calm in bustling Old Havana, Madero B&B is an elegant boutique property with staff that can’t seem to help but go the extra mile. The grand neoclassical building, featuring staggeringly-high ceilings and traditional Cuban tiled floors, was originally built in 1929 and lovingly restored by its owners in 2016 after a period of disrepair. It now plays host to six spacious and beautifully-furnished rooms, well equipped with all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay along with colourful artwork and stylish extras. The highly-coveted junior suite boasts its own balcony overlooking the street’s eclectic architecture and vibrant going-ons. Guests can enjoy their breakfast on the private rooftop terrace, with views of the colonial quarter and Havana harbour. Many of the city’s top attractions sit just a stone’s-throw away.
Madero B&B Exterior View
Madero B&B Reception
Location: Santa Clara No. 59, btw Oficios & Inquisidor, Old Havana
Casa Colonial El Patio
One of the most charming properties in all of Trinidad, Casa Colonial el Patio feels like a living museum with antiques from the 18th and 19th century. Built in 1745, the mansion was fully restored in 2004, maintaining the elegant disposition of the rooms around an inviting courtyard (the "patio" from which it takes its name). Rooms are well-appointed, spacious and in-keeping with colonial style of the property, but it’s the overall experience what makes El Patio such an incredible accommodation. Even if you don’t book a room here, save some time for a visit; sip a cocktail or book a meal at the patio. While not a modern, luxury resort, Casa Colonial el Patio offers an exceptional experience you’ll remember long after your holiday ends.
Hostal El Patio Interior
Hostal El Patio Outdoor Garden
Location: Ciro Redondo No. 274, btw Juan Manuel Márquez & Fernando H. Echerry, Trinidad
Read more about Trinidad in 10 Reasons You Have to Visit Trinidad
Hostal Conde de Ricla
Set on Havana’s atmospheric Plaza Vieja (Old Square), locations don’t come much better than this. The top-rated property, which is more boutique hotel than casa particular, is spread across the second floor of one of the square’s stunning colonial buildings. Its four large rooms and one suite are well appointed with minimalist, chic décor. Breakfast is prepared in the owners’ popular restaurant downstairs, La Vitrola (where Madonna celebrated her 58th birthday!) and can be enjoyed on the sunny roof terrace. Surrounded by restaurants, bars and music venues, Conde de Ricla is perfect for those who want to embrace Havana’s lively spirit.
Hostal Conde de Ricla View over Plaza Vieja
Bedroom in Hostal Conde de Ricla
Location: San Ignacio No. 402, entre Sol y Muralla, Old Havana
Casa de Las Sorpresas
We’re not surprised this is #1 of 102 Specialty Lodgings in Viñales according to TripAdvisor’s travellers; Adriana and Juan Carlos are among our most beloved hosts and we can’t say enough good things about their warm service, delicious food and cosy home. Casa de las Sorpresas (House of Surprises!) delights visitors not because of its decoration, which is adequately charming in its countryside ambience, but because of its amazing views over the breath-taking landscape of the Valle de Viñales. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Viñales Valley is simply astonishing, with its rounded mountains ("mogotes") and horse-riding trails. Ask the hosts for tips to explore the valley and don’t miss a plentiful breakfast or meal on the rooftop terrace.
Casa de Las Sorpresas Exterior View
Amazing view from the terrace of Casa de las Sorpresas
Location: Adela Azcuy Norte No. 47 A, Viñales, Pinar del Río
Read more about Viñales in 48 Hours in Viñales