Casa Concordia marries smart Spanish colonial interiors with cheerful, arty accents. Original art nouveau tiles pattern the floors of this three-bedroom apartment – once part of an apartment block belonging to Havana’s iconic Hotel Nacional. Bedroom lamps are made from chunky beer bottles and cocktail shakers, while corridor pendants are fashioned from recycled birdcages. The master suite’s bathroom sits in a small alcove, which was once a balcony, while the other two bedrooms have balconies overlooking the city’s Teatro América. Architect owners Jonathan and Kendra have loaded the living room TV with Havana information and Cuban films via a USB stick. Not that you’ll want to dally as the Casa de la Música and fashionable private restaurants are on your doorstep.
• +53 5 254 5240, casaconcordia.net, apartment from £119 a night,
Artedel Luxury Penthouse
Ydalgo Martínez Matos’s ultra-stylish penthouse rises above the heart of the action in Havana’s arty Vedado barrio. The bright apartment boasts a wraparound balcony replete with rockers, sun loungers, and a small pool in which to dip your toes. The three spacious rooms fan out across the terrazzo floors with 1950s lampshades, modern art, and huge mirrors. The focus of the apartment is the airy lounge with its lime-green and charcoal-grey seating, Murano glass vases, scarlet red heliconia stalks, ceiling lamp tentacles, and other mid-century furniture accents. Ydalgo is a chemical engineer turned Cuban art promoter and exhibits the work of emerging local artists on his walls. After dinner, at one of Vedado’s new private restaurants such as Le Chansonnier or Starbien (Calle 29, +53 7 830 0711), retire to the moonlit terrace with a cocktail mixed on the apartment’s 50s-style drinks trolley.
• +53 7 830 8727, cubaguesthouse.com, apartment CUC0 (£126) a night, sleeps 6
This smart white villa behind the city’s 18th-century La Cabaña fort is one of 20 palatial pads built for the generals of Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban dictator ousted by Fidel Castro in 1959. The spacious open-plan living room, decorated with the works of Cuba’s contemporary artists and a humidor for 300 cigars, leads to two double bedrooms. A fully-equipped kitchen opens out onto a small patio and fountain shaded by a mango tree. The villa’s loggia is strung with hammocks, and the wild garden is brimming with tweeting birds, palms, and bougainvillea. A shallow pool with a tall bird bath shelters a manjuarí fish, considered a living fossil; kids will be fascinated. Casablanca is close to private restaurants and is a short taxi ride to the Unesco world heritage site of Old Havana.
• +53 5 294 5397, havanacasablanca.com, from £90 a night for the villa including airport transfers, breakfast if required, and mobile phone service, sleeps 5
A stunning 1950s custard-cream mansion with large rooms, a basement bar with a pool table, and a swimming pool with waterfront views all gathered under a finger of land where the Almendares river meets the Atlantic. Almendares, in the smart Miramar district, is perfect for families or groups of friends: it has six bedrooms, a curved 1950s bar with stools, a library, a huge cigar humidor, a kitchen made for entertaining, and a basement playroom lined with pop art images. If you can tear yourself away from the pool and the Caribbean sun, home entertainers can get supplies from La Puntilla supermarket close by, or eat at one of the city’s top private restaurants, Río Mar, with an alfresco terrace overlooking the water and the Malecón sea wall.
• +53 5 285 1055, rent-in-cuba.com, homes and apartments from £180 a night, sleeps 12
Casa Vitrales, hidden in the northern warren of streets of Old Havana, is a traditional B&B but the nine bedrooms that climb over two floors of Spanish colonial interiors can also be rented whole. Owner Osmani has blended handsome antiques with modern furniture in the bright rooms that filter light from the coloured glass windows (vitrales) onto the white beds and pretty patterned floor tiles. Communal areas feature Osmani’s curated collection of objets d’art, contemporary art, magazines and leaflets on city gallery openings. Breakfast can be served on the top sun terrace in the mornings with views to the art deco Bacardi building. From dusk, lanterns illuminate the alfresco bar and tables for those welcome sundowners.
• +53 7 866 2607, cvitrales.com, from £270 a night for the house,
Casa de Gertrudis Martorell
A beautiful, elegant 1955 home designed by Cuban architect Julio Conesa Prendes with a cantilevered roof supporting a vast sun terrace fringed with pink bougainvillea and ferns. The first-floor four-bedroom apartment has its own entrance but guests can reach it through the salon of the main house with its rose pink marble floors and framed work of some of Cuba’s renowned contemporary artists: Roberto Fabelo, Servando Cabrera Moreno, and Flora Fong. The spacious apartment bedrooms are furnished with antiques, huge beds, and bathrooms bearing their 1950’s original pastel tiles. The apartment offers a tiny kitchenette, dining table, and a BBQ and comfy seating on the terrace. Alternatively, Havana’s best Italian restaurant, La Corte del Príncipe is around the corner.
• +53 7 202 6563, habitacionhabana.com, apartment £150 a night,
A cute urban hideaway inside a frescoed Spanish colonial mansion on Old Havana’s largest square, Plaza Vieja. This one-bedroom apartment has been modernised to offer creature comforts, and a local craftsman has tiled the first-floor apartment in terracotta tiles. This one bedroom with a modern en suite is smart in gull-grey and white tones with a pretty painted glass reading light pinned to the wall. The equipped kitchen forms a corner in the open-plan living room where an extra bed is available for a third guest. This pied-à-terre is close to some of Old Havana’s best refreshment stops: the next door alfresco beer factory bar, the Cuban cafe Escorial opposite, and the owner’s brand-new Italian-style spot, Café Bohemia.
• +53 5 4031 568, livingincuba.weebly.com, apartment £48 a night,
Casa Michael and María Elena
After a morning’s sightseeing in the centre of Havana, clamber back into an old American car collective taxi and unfurl around the swimming pool in the vibrant garden at Casa Michael. This leafy oasis in western Havana is the most welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown. The mosaic-tiled swimming pool is hemmed in by Royal Palm, coconut palm, mango, bird of paradise flower, white orchids and poinsettia. The dining area, small kitchen and barbecue are positioned for eating and drinking next to the pool from morning to night. Should the Havana heat sizzle, retreat to the indoor open-plan living and dining room. The three bedrooms come with smart bathrooms, pool towels, and a mix of modern and colonial furniture. Casa Michael’s is in a quiet, bougainvillea-laced cul-de-sac close to the Tropicana cabaret and the Mexican paladar, Los Compadres.
• Calle 66 no 4507, between Calle 45 and Final, Playa, +53 7 209 0084, no website, £150 a night for the house, sleeps 6
A sprawling vanilla-hued mansion built in 1903 in the leafy district of Vedado screened by trees and foliage. The restored home offers six rooms all decorated with colonial-era lamps, tiles and Louis XV furniture. The two second-floor rooms are small but one comes with an outstanding art deco mirror-dresser and a bathroom with a sleek rain shower cubicle. Mariby’s has an on-site chef for home-cooked meals in the antique-filled dining room where a filling breakfast is served if guests request it. Spend your evenings lounging amid the gilded sofas, chandeliers, peacock feathers, and marble statues in the living room before cocktails on the terrace. Vedado’s highlights are on your doorstep: excellent paladar Mediterráneo Havana with its Sardinian chef, avant-garde gallery Galería Habana, city favourite Teatro Mella for contemporary dance, Teatro Brecht for cocktails and subterranean sounds, and Esencia Habana for drinks until 5am.
• +53 5 370 5559, .mariby.com, £180 a night for the house, sleeps 12
An elegant bolthole tucked into the upper floors of a restored colonial building amid the historic streets of Old Havana. Suite Havana’s two double rooms and five balconies overlook the Lamparilla Café and the cigar aficionado’s hotel, Conde de Villanueva. Owners Lea and François have fashioned the apartment with Cuban and European accents: in the corner of the open-plan living room, replete with furniture made by François, is a high-gloss, loft-style kitchen bounded by polished concrete. Lea’s art collection adorns the smart white walls. The perks? The first-floor apartment comes with a welcome gift of a bottle of Havana Club Añejo Especial rum, a humidor stocked with Cuban cigars, and fresh yerba buena (belonging to the mint family) growing on the sun terrace, so cocktail aficionados can mix their own mojitos.
• +53 5 829 6524, suitehavana.com, £78 a night B&B. Two extra single beds are available at a charge of £18pppn. Long stay discounts are available, sleeps 4 (+ 2)
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