where to stay:
Hotel Saratoga: One of the coolest hotels in Havana, the Saratoga's elegant facade overlooks all the other 19th-century architectural splendors along the Paseo del Prado. They have a Mudejar-inspired restaurant and the city's best rooftop bar. Each fabulous room is fashioned with long cushioned widow seats from which to watch the frantic local street life. Enjoy some of Cuba's most luxurious accommodations when you stay at the Hotel Saratoga. Room pricing begins at $179 USD/night. http://www.cubatravelnetwork.com/en/hotels/hotel.asp?hotel=396
La Rosa de Ortega Bed and Breakfast: Situated on the second-highest hill in the city of Havana in La Vibora, La Rosa de Ortega is a quieter bed and breakfast option. There are ten bedrooms, all with private bathrooms. The house is a 1938 mansion owned by a couple that inherited it from the husband’s aunt in the nineties. The husband-and-wife team revamped the interiors, creating exposed-brick rooms, a large pool area, and beautiful garden, as well as a covered pavilion for dining. The white linens, geometric tile floors, and handmade furniture are just some of the alluring details that La Rosa de Ortega has to offer, along with a spectacular view of the old city. http://www.larosadeortega.com/en
where to eat:
Doña Eutemia: Tucked in an Old Havana alley away from the main tourist path, but busy enough to give you a taste of true Cuban street life, this homely paladar (an independently-run restaurant) is a staple of old Creole cuisine. The owner, Laetitia, refuses to let go of the culinary secrets that were passed on to her by her mother. She cooks classic Creole dishes such as malanga fritters and the ropa vieja (shredded lamb), invariably accompanied by black beans, salad and rice, next to lots of fresh seafood and exotic fruits. With big portions at reasonable prices, it is popular with both locals and tourists, so expect to eat in good company. Callejón del Chorro No 60c, Plaza de la Catedral
Bella Habana: A chic mansion in the upscale Miramar district, BellaHabana gives Cuban cuisine a modern, international twist with a weak spot for fish. Tres Lindas Cubanas are Three Cuban Beauties, or rather, three types of fish cooked differently for your all-round culinary pleasure. Octopus ceviche and smoked salmon, squid and red snapper with different ‘aromas’ (cream, mushroom, vodka) in generous portions give the visitor a deluxe local experience that doesn’t have to break the bank. Immerse yourself in Cuban history elegantly decorating the ceiling and walls, sharing a glass of French wine or some top-notch mojitos that will merrily help you wash it down. Calle 6 y 7ma No. 512, Miramar, Playa, Havana 1160, +5372038364.