WHERE IN THE WORLD
History-rich Havana; a compendium of ‘C’s’; culture, cigars, cocktails and colour! Taxis blaring Latin pop and locals practising the saxophone and salsa on their balconies, if any city can win your heart and make you feel totally alive, Havana is the one. Occupying an entire ‘manzana’ (or block) the recently-opened Manzana Kempinski sits inside the UNESCO-protected old Havana and its’ 350 year-old walls. The hotel is a real step forward in the luxury space and a wonderful contrast to the “casas particulares” (rooms in beautifully renovated colonial houses rented out by Cuba families). Travel by Lillingston’s Celine Saffray found experiencing both the perfect combination of luxury and local. Havana was a favourite stop on her 2-week Cuban road trip.
THE REASON WHY
The mecca of cigar production, the rum capital, a salsa dancer's paradise and a city unexplored.
Cruise the cobbled, bougainvillea-drenched streets in candy-coloured Chevrolets, haggle over hand-made crafts, take salsa lessons from a local and hydrate with the country’s most beloved spirit at any time of day. We wanted to explore and experience the real Cuba.
THE STAR DUST
Our suite at Manzana Kempinski faced El Floridita, one of the oldest bars in Cuba and a favourite daquiri haunt of Ernest Hemingway. While I would have loved to cruise around in a candy pink Cadillac, with a fair complexion and blazing August sunshine, this would not have been wise. We had the most charming driver and over our two-week trip around the country we ate, drank, chatted, danced and sang with the locals.
THE WORLD SAID
I never thought I would smoke cigars and drink rum at 10am but, when in Cuba!
“In Cuba you feel like you are in a time warp, partly due to the lack of internet. In our tech-obsessed era, it is a rare treat to escape from our phones and just explore. After queuing a few times for an internet card, the need to “be in touch” wore off and we really threw ourselves into the trip. We were shown such genuine hospitality everywhere, the locals so happy to share and to show us their beautiful country. I’ve already booked a return trip to learn to dance!”