Hotel National de Cuba - History - Part II
Hotel National Today
Hotel National Postcard

Hotel National Postcard
Hotel National under construction

Hotel National from the gate
Hotel From the gate

One of the Hotel pools
Invitation to official hotel inauguration ceremony

Hotel Nacional inauguration ceremony
Table settings for the inauguration ceremony

On the coastal salient of Punta Brava, on the Taganana hill, toward the far end of the San Lazaro cove - customary site of pirate landings - rises the Hotel Nacional de Cuba since December 30, 1930, the “flagship” of Gran Caribe.

During the 19th century, the hill on which the hotel stands held the famous battery of Santa Clara. The “Ordoñez” cannon, one of the largest of its time, still lies in the hotel’s gardens. On the headland of Punta Brava, Corregidor Don Luis Aguilar chastised the British during the seige and assault of Havana. The hotel’s most famous and luxurious restaurant is named after him.

The project and construction of this majestic building was completed in two years by the US companies McKim, Mead & White and Purdy Henderson Co.

Visitors are captivated by the galleries of the gardens that recollect monastic cloisters of Moorish-Spanish arcades, the main hall resembling three parallel aisles of a Medieval church, or the simulated beams of the ceiling that recall an old Catalan monastery with Arab reminiscences. Its eclectic architecture combining Art-Deco, neoclassic and neocolonial designs, the handsome Apartment of the Republic with its direct entrance and the necessary privacy for state guests, and its comfortable Presidential Suite have, time and again, attracted many distinguished personalities from the fields of art, literature, politics, commerce, science and business.

Among its first illustrious guests were artists, actors and writers such as Johny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Jose Mujica, Jorge Negrete, Agustin Lara, Tyrone Power, Romulo Gallegos, Errol Flyn, Marlon Brando and the famous Ernest Hemingway, who donated a blue fish specimen to the “Sirena” bar. The guestlist includes well known Italian American gangsters Santos Traficante, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello. The hotel’s reputation as a deluxe host is backed by patrons such as Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, scientist Alexander Flemming, and innumerable Ibero American Heads of State and European monarchs.

The hotel was refurbished in the late 50’s, when all the comforts that make it competitive were added without altering the original layout.

The protagonism of the Hotel Nacional goes on, welcoming distinguished businessmen and ordinary folk from all over the world, hosting important international events and still remaining that “Enchanted Castle” that Carpentier spoke of, as dazzling as it was on its opening night.

 

from the Hotel Nacional de Cuba

 

Hotel Nacional de Cuba Emblem
Official Emblem

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Another recommended hotel, with as commanding views, but of an even more beautiful bay is Hotel El Castillo, Baracoa. Is at the remotest furthest end of Cuba, but just a short direct flight away.    
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