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“Cuba’s version of a North American Expense Account Hotel.”
Review of Melia Habana

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Melia Habana
Ranked #2 of 79 Hotels in Havana
Certificate of Excellence
Alberta, Canada
Level Contributor
99 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Cuba’s version of a North American Expense Account Hotel.”
Reviewed January 2, 2013

We stayed at/ the Meliá Habana for several days in December. Our goal was to get to know Havana and the hotel was part of a last minute airfare, ground transportation, hotel accommodation package we were able to find on the internet. It was a family holiday with our two young adult children. The goal was to get to know Old Havana and Cuba in general. We weren’t looking for a beach to lie in the sun. In fact the hotel is located on the ocean but there is no beach, rather a fossil reef. Still there are nice views of the ocean from the hotel.

You need to know that virtually all public businesses, including hotels and restaurants are state owned in Cuba and the managers and staff are grossly under paid by North American standards.

The Meliá Habana was opened in 1998. It is a nice looking hotel with two very large and relatively plus entrance and lower level floors which house many restaurants and the lowest level integrates smoothly with the pool area. The hotel is located in Miramar, the rich area of Havana which includes many of the embassies of the more than 100 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba. The imposing Russian embassy is just a couple of blocks east of the hotel.

As with American expense account hotels there is an extra charge for lots of the services such as internet access, the in room coffee, etc. that are normally free in most North American chains. In the case of Meliá internet cost about $10.00 per hour but you can only sign up for it during rather restricted day time business hours. I quote Canadian dollars because the exchange rate for Convertible Cuban pesos (CUC) is about 1:1. The in room coffee, which is instant, costs $3.00 a cup. If you want ice in your room you have to go to the bar on the lowest level. Thankfully ice is free.

There is a bank /currency exchange place across the street from the hotel which offers a better rate than the hotel. It is open during business hours. If you want to go to Old Havana which is about 13 km away the hotel operates a couple of free shuttles a day and there is a double decker, ‘hop-on-hop-off’ bus that runs right in front of the hotel. The cost is $5/person/day and there are a dozen or more stops. Those buses didn’t run after 6 in December but it seems like the run until 9 at some times of the year.

We tried two of the hotel restaurants (Asian and Italian) plus the ‘cafeteria’ bar. The restaurants were alright but not outstanding. They are overpriced. If you ask for water you get $3.50 bottled water from Italy. Local beer was $3.00 but you can get the same stuff across the street in a few small restaurants for $1.00. The cafeteria bar had snacks such as sandwiches, quesidillas, etc. that were reasonably priced.

A better bargain in terms of food were a series of small restaurants across the street from theMeliá Habana. These restaurants operate under the name, Amelia, are really fast food places but the prices are good and we found the quality of their food to be good as well. Service was prompt and friendly. We could get fried eggs, toast and espresso for $2 in the morning and a local beer was $1. Lasagna was about $2 as was pizza.

There is also a little grocery store in a shopping area just west of the hotel in the area of an old yacht club. Walk toward the ocean on the road on the west side of the hotel and go left when you get near the water. You can reach that stree though a convenient door on the lower level of the hotel next to the cafeteria bar. You can buy a range of food/drink items at the shopping mall grocery store at reasonable prices including fresh bread, cheese, pop, cookies, etc. They have a range of rum starting at about $3.85 a bottle.

The rooms at Meliá Habana are large and comfortable with good air conditioning, balconies, etc. The floors of the hotel and the rooms are marble, so are the walls of the bathrooms. This results in a rather luxurious feel. The ceilings of the room are high, probably 12 feet’, so the rooms have a spacious feel. We found the beds comfortable and the water reliably hot, not something we have come to depend on in hotels in warm locations. The marble tiles on the hallways serving the romos are in fairly bad shape, lots of them are cracked and form depressions, the result of shoddy construction workmanship. Where there have been problems with floor tiles in the lower two levels they have been repaired, you can tell because the replacement tiles are nice and shiny compared to the original ones. Too bad they don’t fix the tiles on the floors where the rooms are located.

The rooms are located around an inner atrium open to the sky which is very attractive. The atrium is lined with planters, as are the balconies that facie outward from the rooms. However the plants/planters are not well maintained so you get a feeling of shoddiness. The plumbing is in place for automatic watering so it shouldn’t be difficult to maintain the plants if there was willingness on the part of management.

Overall Meliá Habana was a pleasant, safe place to stay. However if I were going to Havana gain I would likely choose to stay either at the National Hotel of the Hotel Sevilla which are both historic hotels in Old Havana. The National Hotel is wonderfully situated in terms of ocean view and history. The Hotel Sevilla is better situated with regard to access to the action in old Havana. We were in the lobby area of both and were impressed with what we saw, including their relative cost compared to Meliá Habana.

Room Tip: Higher rooms, 6th floor or above facing the ocean would be best.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
11 Thank EsoxL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Los Angeles, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed December 31, 2012

Had to stay here to two weeks while my husband was working in Cuba. We stayed in the corner suite. Awesome. Room was very spacious. The staff was always helpful. The food at the hotel was NOT good and I'm a foodie. I need good food and wine. The Italian place in the hotel had decent food but here are some great recommendations: Calle Diez (on 10th street between 3rd and 5th. it's a little fancy. 7 mins from hotel and well worth it), Doctor Café (it's a hole in the wall but the food awesome. I had the steak and my husband had the swordfish. Yummy).
Also, you have to go to La Guarida. (it's 15 mins from hotel but a must see. It's on the 3rd floor of an old building that looks abandoned. Once you've made it up the stairs you walk in through a charming little door and it's like a hidden gem. The view gives you true insight into how the common Cubans live). Enjoy your stay..

Room Tip: Make sure you stay between the 6th and 9th floor and have Service Royal.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled on business
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Helpful?
4 Thank LORENA T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dario Alejandro F, General Manager at Melia Habana, responded to this review, January 31, 2013
Dear Esoxl

Dear Sr, when we receive opinions like yours, they served us references to know as hotel in terms of indicators such as the size of the rooms, cleaning, maintenance, and other is positioned.
On this, the good news is that we already started to change the floors that were cracked, and the watering plants service has also been repaired.
For any customer it is all a chronicle of his journey, where you can choose and rating on Havana, the surroundings of the hotel, services. And for us it allows us to do a study of the same indicators from the perception of the clientele, as well as historical interests and their facilities.
Just remind him that if he returns to our country and the Melia Hotels you will always be well received
Best regards
Darío Fernández

Director General
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Niagara Falls, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed December 23, 2012

We stayed at Melia Habana for one week. The hotel is in a very nice location directly on the water and has all the amenities of a top class resort hotel. We did find it a bit far from the centre of Havana, however the hotel shuttle bus was very efficient and reliable for getting to and from the Historic Centre. The hotel, pool and our room were all very good. The room was a bit dated and the beds were harder than we like, but overall our stay was very satisfactory. We would certainly stay at this hotel again. one complaint we did have was that the hotel did not supply bottled water in the room. This meant spending $5-10 a day using the overpriced minibar, or walking to the nearby Mercado. It would be a small matter to supply a couple bottles daily, as is standard practice in most resorts. We also found that there were very few good dining options in the area around the hotel. We did find Amelia cafeteria directly across the street was a very good spot for inexpensive drinks and good sandwiches. Eventually we found the very excellent Paladar Santana on 5ta street, just a few minutes walk from the hotel front door. This is a gem, we went two nights.

Room Tip: There don't appear to be too many bad rooms, but pick and ocean view room if you want to be sure...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Richard S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed December 20, 2012

My partner and I are first time to Cuba. We have visited two cities. One is Havana and other is Varadero. We are like Varadero very much because of people and have a long nice beach right behind the Hotel.
Now, we know why most of tourists like to go Varadero or other cities in south of Cuba.

Everyone if you want to go to the city of Havana,please everyone have to be aware of a couple or two people approach you.
They are very nice and friendly to you bur that is a trap. They will take you to the bar and have a drink but you do not order but the waiter offer the drinks to you and your guests. as the same time as the couple keep on talking to make you feel comfortable in the bar. The couple will ask you, can you buy one more drinks for them then you will have a trouble to pay the big bill for only a water with lemon drinks before you leave the bar.
We met a couple of people at the airport had a same situation as us to pay a high bill for only drinks.
So far our holiday in Cuba is nice and happy specially n Varadero..
Wish you all have a wonderful holiday in Cuba.

Room Tip: Over all the hotel is good except the washroom and shower are not clean. Ocean view is best to choos...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Fisherman W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
carefree az
Level Contributor
65 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
Reviewed December 20, 2012

This is a modern luxury hotel with quiet well furnished rooms, good restaurants, beautiful pools(we did not swim) and pleasant staff. If you want a modern upscale "island" on the Island, this is where to go. Only critique is that the plastic matress covers were very noise whenyou moved in or out of bed.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank sunsfanatic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Worth, Texas
Level Contributor
33 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2012

I visited Cuba for a week in November 2012 on a special license granted by the United States, and stayed at the Melia Habana as this was the hotel chosen for our tour. There are other more quaint and probably somewhat nicer hotels in Habana Vieja but for logistical reasons, this hotel made the most sense considering the size of our group (20+).

Please read this review with the understanding that a visitor from the United States cannot expect to go to Cuba and have everything exactly the way it is at home. This is a very different society with different cultural norms and different challenges. There are some things about this hotel that I wouldn't tolerate on a business trip in the U.S., but with an open mind for the differences between the countries, I was able to not let these things bother me. Considering everything, I was overall quite comfortable with my stay at this hotel.

First I will list the positives:
1. Beautiful swimming pool with clean, cool water and prompt service from the pool attendants
2. Nice location right on the shoreline with an expansive northern view of the Florida Straits
3. Sliding doors to the balcony so you can keep the doors open on cool nights and fall asleep listening to the crashing surf (and boy was it crashing!).
4. Most of the staff seemed to be professional and courteous, willing to help me practice my Spanish or speak excellent English if necessary
5. Room was quite a bit larger than I expected and the beds were very big
6. Relatively modern bathroom with adequate toiletries and a functioning bidet (a nice treat for an American traveler!)
7. Well maintained executive lounge with buffet breakfast, internet (slow by U.S. standards but really not too bad for some internet browsing/e-mail), and money exchange on the 9th floor
8. Lobby bar is open 24 hours (!!) and the drinks are very reasonably priced.

And these are thing things that need some work:
1. The air conditioning in the room was not cold enough for my comfort. It was cool enough that I was able to sleep fairly well but I would have preferred it to be about 5 degrees F colder.
2. The maid service appeared to be a little bit perfunctory. She did what was needed to be done but we noticed that some spots in the bathroom were still there after 4 days. She could have been a little bit more diligent in her duties.
3. The sheets and blankets were quite rough and not very comfortable
4. I will not list this as a fault of the hotel because this is the way things are in Cuba - but be aware that smoking is allowed almost anywhere, including the public areas of the hotel
5. Pool closes at 10:00 PM. I am not sure why - perhaps a security issue? If I were on a holiday vacation with friends or family during a hot summer period I would want to be able to swim past 10:00 PM.
6. The hotel is located about 20 minutes away from Habana Vieja
7. The hotel is located on the shore but there is no swimming beach anywhere in the immediate area

All in all, a decent hotel. It has something of a large, business-like, impersonal feel but in general it allowed for a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Room Tip: Try to get a room with a full view of the ocean (not a partial view). Also, the 7th-9th floors are...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
7 Thank Texan1010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed November 26, 2012

Slightly offputting at first site - large, impersonal, letters dropping off the signage ... however the room in the special Level 7-9 section was large and well equipped with a large marble bathroom - very clean, really comfortable beds and quiet. Pretty good breakfast. The place grew on me. Staff were courteous and not pushy. Food and drinks in the lobby bar were expensive and bad so we didn't use the restaurants preferring to try out a number of paladars to check out. If the weather was hot the large pool would be a nice retreat after being downtown. Only real problem with the hotel is that it is 20 minutes fast drive to the old town and better restaurants. There is a free shuttle to a fixed point but if the timing doesn't work you may spend 10-15 CUCs each way on a taxi - and some of the taxis are beyond smelly and uncomfortable.

Room Tip: Levels 7-9 have special service and separate breakfast area as well as a bar/lounge.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jill2Travel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Melia Habana

Property: Melia Habana
Address: Ave 3era, e/ 76 y 80 | Miramar Playa, Havana 11300, 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 High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Luxury Hotel in Havana
#2 Romantic Hotel in Havana
#2 Family Hotel in Havana
#3 Business Hotel in Havana
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Melia Habana 5*
Number of rooms: 397
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Miramar, overlooking the sea, 20 minutes from airport, 5 minutes from Havana Convention Center. 397 rooms, 4 suites, 12 Junior Suites, 98 Royal Service, sea view with balcony, Full bathroom, Air conditioning, Satellite TV, Safe, Minibar, 220 volts. Restaurants: Italian, Oriental Fusion, Grill, cafeteria and Buffets, 5 bars, Swimming pools with children's area, Babysitting service. Sauna, GYM, Massage, WI-FI Internet in all the hotel, Meeting facilities. Live Music. Free shuttle to old Havana. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Melia Habana Hotel Havana
Melia Hotel Habana
Melia Hotel Havana

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