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“Extremely nice hotel with relatively poor service”

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Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Ranked #6 of 78 Hotels in Havana
Luzern
Level Contributor
129 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
“Extremely nice hotel with relatively poor service”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 26, 2012

Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a very histoic site, well located in Habana Vedado in front of the sea. From outside, it looks marvellous and Vedado is a good place to stay with a lof of restaurants (also many privat restaurants "Paladares").

While the room was acceptable and clean, the service in the hotel was poor. In particular check in and check out process takes a long time since queuing. Also in the breakfast, there was often not enough space and extremely crowdied. If you need any assstance, e.g how to call, you have also bad service. The internet connetion in the internet room was too slow and I was not able to see my emails.

After that I spend all nighs in Casas Particulares (Private Accomodations) and I was very pleaesed.

Nevertheless, I recommend o spend at least one night in the hotel Nacional since it is a very romantic place.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
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Thank ElmarBacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 25, 2012

We came to Cuba for two weeks doing a split trip with 4 nights in Havana and 10 nights in Varadero with our package including the Hotel Nacional and Blau Varadero. Upon arriving at the Nacional it definitely did not disappoint. It is absolutely beautiful in every way. Others may look at it and find the deteriorating aspects of it right away but for us, that's where the beauty lies. We also learned that during our stay the Iranian President was to be staying at the Nacional as well during his short visit to Cuba. That was an interesting experience!

Our room was fine....nothing outstanding but I wasn't expecting it to be from prior research. The bathrooms were updated a bit compared to the rest of the room. The room safes are not included so expect that extra charge if you need it.The veranda at the back of the hotel was probably our groups favourite spot to relax in every morning and after a long day of sightseeing. It is very inviting with big wicker lounge chairs and coffee tables and in the evening there is usually some live music. There are two pool areas and the main big one is a really nice place to relax and the pool is great (our 8 yr old son loved it).

The breakfast buffet is included in your stay which is a good thing because none of us would have paid for it if it wasn't (13 cuc). People always say how bad the food is in Cuba but to be honest, we've never really had that problem because we're not scared to go and seek out some great places to eat. The Nacional buffet was the only time the food was just not good....we just stuck with freshly made eggs, toast, and the excellent freshly squeezed orange juice. There are a few other places to grab a bite in the hotel as well....the Cinema Cafe has some really good food (the burgers were really good!).
Okay, so I have saved the most disappointing part of our stay for last....the staff. We came across a few really great people (a few of the veranda bar staff, the money exchange lady at reception) but for the most part, their attitudes were really negative or just lacking period. The people that work in the breakfast buffet all look and act like they despise having to be there. I can imagine that they have to deal with some difficult people here and there but don't we all with our jobs? I never stopped being polite, smiling, and trying to converse with them but it really never seemed to make a difference. One girl at the check-in counter was just horribly rude to my dad over a simple question and the maid that was looking after our grandparents room actually called them the day before our check out to remind him to leave a tip. Really? When my parents left their room to check out, a maid immediately checked out their room and caught up to them at the elevators asking why they didn't leave a tip. My stepmom explained to the girl that they had left a tip the day before because the maid that they had was not there that day. There was also an incident that happened with my brother and his girlfriend when they didn't leave a tip (they didn't use the maids service at all during our stay so why should they?).
Despite the staff being so chilly with their attitudes I would still stay here again as the positives with the rest of the hotel overshadow the staff for the most part. Overall, our family had a really great time in Havana.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank TannisJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 25, 2012

This hotel combines a unique location in the middle of a tropical park, a spectacular ocean view, numerous facilities, a beautifully decorated lobby and room comfort. The distance to the old city of Havana is rather short and allows guests to enjoy both this unique area as well as the (less spectacular) modern Vedado district. The staff is friendly though not always of an extreme competence. Food quality is not the strongest asset although it remains quite high for Cuban standards. As a suggestion, it would be desirable to improve and generalize access to wifi facilities.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank archimidis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St Helens, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
47 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 25, 2012

We spent 3 nights when we arrived in Havana and 1 further night prior to our return to England. Check-in was absolute chaos and took almost an hour from arrival in the lobby. Eventually after checking in, we made our way up to the room on the 4th floor.

The room was old and the furnishings looked like that they had seen better days. However the first thing I noticed was that despite booking a double room, we had been given twin beds. The bathroom was also looking rather worse for wear and had a plug socket that was hanging from the wall. The flush on the toilet was also very temperamental.

I returned to the lobby to complain but was told that there was nothing that could be done as the hotel was full and that we'd have to return tomorrow.

Exhausted, I accepted defeat and given the storm outside, we decided to stick to the confines of the hotel for the evening. We decided to try the buffet, which was possibly the worst selection of food, even though I was warned about Cuban cuisine, I have ever laid my eyes on and at CUC$32.50 not exactly great value. We finished the evening with Mojitos at the outside bar. These were the best Mojitos of the trip but again not cheap (CUC$7).

The following morning we returned to the lobby to ask about changing our room - it was obvious our complaint hadn't been passed on to the day's staff and was told that the hotel was full. I made it very clear that I was unhappy with this and eventually we were told to return at 4pm.
We were transferred to a room on the opposite side of the corridor when we returned later that day, with a kingsize bed and a ocean view. Although the furnishings were aged, I was happy as the toilet also flushed!

However this happiness was short lived as we were woken up at midnight by a vibrating loud noise that felt as if the walls were about to cave in. We rang the reception who were rather unsympathetic and sent up a maid to have a look. My spanish isn't great, but the maid reported that it was something to with the plumbing and should subside in about 10 minutes. However it continued for about half an hour and then eventually stopped. We were then woken up by the same noise at about 430am and again lasted for a similar period. Again the reception staff weren't too interested.

I again complained later that morning and was told that this was just the way it was and they were wiring on a solution. Given our frustration, we figured we only had 1 more night to put up with before flying to Cayo Largo. Although we had to get up at 0345, our night was otherwise undisturbed.

ON our return to Havana, we were given a modern furnished room with a flat screen TV facing the ocean. The nicest of the 3 rooms so far, however it again had twin beds. My fiancee told me not to bother complaining as nothing would get resolved. Despite this, I returned to the lobby to be rudely told that this was our travel agent's fault as he did not request a "matrimonial bed" and that requesting a double was the equivalent of a twin. Again we were told there were no other rooms, so we would have to just deal with it.

Overall the communal areas of the hotel are beautiful, however the rooms are much to be desired and the service is appalling. It's definitely worth visiting and going for a drink, but I don't recommend the food or staying.

Room Tip: Make sure you request a "matrimonial bed" unless you want twin beds.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank rickykpp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 24, 2012

We had originally booked at the Hotel Victoria, a much smaller, less ostentatious hotel. However on arrival we were told that due to renovation works going on at the Victoria we had been transferred to the Hotel Nacional (part of the same company). We were then left to make our own way there, which fortunately wasn't too far!
At the Nacional there's a flight of steps up to the entrance and my initial impression wasn't great as we were left to carry our own bags up the steps while the doormen looked on!
Reception was equally impersonal as we were given our room card. When I couldn't work out the room safe a somewhat impatient porter arrived to show me.
Everything else functioned well enough and the breakfast was plentiful. The gardens are amazing and probably the best thing about the hotel along with it's history of famous guests. The terrace bar is a great place to sip a cocktail.
The main disappointment was the swimming pool area. Hoping for a spot of relaxation we were questioned by a member of staff on the way in to check whether we were hotel guests or not. My partner offered to show his room card but the staff member didn't want to see it she just wanted to know our room number. We both felt as if we were under suspicion for some reason and it made us wonder whether all the hotel guests are treated this way or whether it was something to do with my partner being black. Hopefully not but this was how we both came away feeling. The staff member informed us that 'sometimes people from outside get in here'. I think the hotel needs to come up with a better policy for identifying their guests so as not to cause offence. This is likely to be one of the failings of being such a big hotel in that the staff don't recognize their guests and everything becomes a bit impersonal. Needless to say I don't think we'll be going back there unless it's just to sip a cocktail in the terrace bar!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Timelytravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bath, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 24, 2012

We stayed here for 3 nights from 1st January. We paid £127GBP a night and booked independently through Hotelopia. We booked late and peak season so were restricted to where we could stay and had our hearts set on one with a pool (the weather was very windy and quite chilly so we only used it once, however.)

I have been to Cuba before so understand the culture a little. I feel that this may be a national treasure of a hotel and by Cuban standards it is very grand but by world standards it is nothing like a 5 star hotel, so please be aware of this if you have never been to Cuba and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Good points:
-Breakfast is extensive - not everything is good quality but considering it is Cuba it is good - delicious omelettes made in front of you, soft croissants, rolls and pastries, fresh orange juice from a squeezing machine.
-Swimming pools good - shame we only used one once as it was very windy and too cold when we were there.
-Clean bedding, no sign of bedbugs.
-Easy to find on landscape.

Bad points:
-We felt it was expensive for what you get and we should have simply stayed in a Casa particular in Havana instead for friendlier service, better location and better value.
-Location in Vedado is just about walkable to Old Havana but not a lot going on around the local area.
-Room decor very tired and badly needs renovating. Hardly inspiring bedroom or bathrooms.
-The bathroom smelt of sewage throughout our stay and greeted us with it whenever we walked into our room. We had a flood from the shower every time we used it as the bath was boxed in badly.
-The service was impersonal and not especially friendly - the reception has 1 person on it (for 457 rooms) and had queues constantly.
-No drinking water was supplied in the room for brushing teeth etc - for this they charge $2.30 CUC (nearly £2GBP) for 500ml, from the minibar.
-Where the bedroom floor tiles met the skirting boards they were really quite filthy with ingrained dirt.

The hotel entertainment tends towards the touristy Tropicana cabaret type which isn't our scene but if you like that you'll be happy as it's on regularly by the pool.

I would recommend nearby:
-mojitos in the Fosca tower nearby - the bar is at the top of the tower and overlooks the city.
-the open top tourist bus which you can jump on and off. It is much cheaper than the taxis and is good for resting your weary legs.
-eating at a Paladar (restaurant in a home) such as Vieja Gringo, which is 3 blocks away. Really tasty food, meal under $10CUC (£8).

Room Tip: Higher floors away from the entertainment (which is on the pool side of hotel) are quieter
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank acbw_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
62 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 22, 2012

We managed to get a 2 room suite over the New Year period at no notice after checking out of a horror hotel (Habana Libre). The Nacional is glorious place to stay and it was hard to leave the Veranda bar. The Winston Churchill Bar has a lovely ambience and we rated them the "best daiquiris in Havana".

The rooms are immacualte and the service is brilliant.

Room Tip: ask for a view over the Malecon
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank Claire S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Property: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Address: Calle 21 y O | Vedado, Plaza, Havana 10400, Cuba
Location: Caribbean > Cuba > Ciudad de la Habana Province > Havana
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Family Hotel in Havana
#6 Luxury Hotel in Havana
#7 Business Hotel in Havana
#8 Romantic Hotel in Havana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Hotel Nacional de Cuba 5*
Number of rooms: 473
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With an exceptional location in the very center of the city of Havana, facing the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the entrance to the Bay of the capital; with a rich and surprising history, combining: milestones; the validity of our history and national culture, have done that since its inauguration in 1930 has welcomed countless personalities of world history, culture, science, sport and politics. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Nacional De Cuba Hotel
Nacional De Cuba Havana

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