10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"My husband and I have just returned from our holiday in Cuba.
We stayed in Hotel Raquel for 5 nights and what can I say.... the hotel is beautiful! The hotel is a museum in its own right.
The hotel is situated right in the heart of the old town. The rooms are huge and absolutely spotlessly clean. The staff are very friendly and helpful and they were always making sure we had everything we needed. The maids leave you a hand written note every day after they have cleaned your room and arrange your towels in swan, heart-like shapes on your bed (a nice personal touch).
The breakfast buffet wasnt terribly inviting, but if you asked they would fry or scramble an egg or make fresh pancakes for you. They even made pancakes that spelt my name!
Its hard to find anything bad about this hotel but if you want to be picky you could say the 1st and 2nd floors are a bit too noisy so try and ask for a room on the third floor. We had 2 nights on the second floor and all the noise from reception seemed to echo all the way up to the rooms. The other 3 nights we stayed on the third floor and heard nothing.
Apparently it is quite common that the entire old town runs out of water from time to time. Unfortunately in our case this happened for the first morning we were there. For 12 hours we had no shower, taps, toilets etc. So grab a shower when you can! (Just in case).
Also the rooms on the second floor dont have windows so they are quite dark. But, theres a fantastic roof terrace to relax on if your not ready to retire to a dark room.
From some of the nightmare reports I read about other hotels in Cuba before our trip this hotel was a dream! Its not european standard 4* but its got nice clean rooms, friendly staff and definately no bugs crawling in my food! What more could you ask for?"
- Travel date: Mon 2nd of April 2007
Beautiful Hotel with clasic styling
"Very stylish, recently renovated smaller hotel with large rooms. The design and architectural details are lovely. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Great location in the centre of old Havana. The breakfast buffet was certainly nothing special but more than adequate."
- Travel date: Sat 20th of January 2007
One of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in
"The Hotel Raquel is entirely splendid - a beautiful building, beautifully restored, one block from the stunning Plaza Vieja and four from the even more lovely cathedral square. Staff charming and helpful. The only drawback when I was there was that there didn't seem to be guest internet access and using public internet facilities is incredibly time-consuming, but connections are unreliable in Cuba and this was hardly the hotel's fault. You also have to be happy to wake up early if you have a room facing the street, as there is a primary school on the other side of calle San Ignacio.
The block to the north of the hotel is dilapidated, like large parts of Havana, but it is not a slum. Many of the hotel's neighbours are poor - Cuba is a third-world country and such areas are nearby every hotel in the old city - but with occasional exceptions they are also charming and friendly.
Much recommended. I'll be going again."
- Travel date: Wed 17th of January 2007
Old world charm
"I stayed with my husband at the Hotel Raquel for 3 nights and we can certainly recommend the place. The beautiful old building used to be the Chamber of Commerce and now it's a lovely and spotless hotel with stained-glass roof. It's centrally located in Old Havana, the place is absolutely safe (in spite of some weird reviews i've read here, i guess if you walk around a poor country showing off your jewels you're asking to be robbed).
The rooms are decorated with charming furniture out of an antiques shop, the buffet is tasty and varied (something to be appreciated in a country where most of the people live on rice with beans), and the staff at the front desk were extremely polite and helpful. We entrusted them with a box full of toilettries and medicines for some Havanan friends who came to pick it up later and they told us the box was delivered intact. This shows a remarkable degree of honesty, when you think that Cubans do not even have an aspirine to soothe their headaches thanks to the inhuman blockade they suffer."
- Travel date: Wed 3rd of January 2007
Bittersweet memories of Havana
"This hotel claims to be a Jewish establishment but it isn't very
Jewish at all. Also, it is basically located on three sides by a foul smelling slum with unemployed Cuban males leering at you
from every doorway. The hotel seemed to be run by the doormen
whose familiarity with you isn't a product of Caribbean friendliness, but a way to introduce a cheap cigar purchase to you. Had this establishment even the remotest managerial presence this type of behaviour would have to stop but since they
are nowhere to be found they seem to condone it. We payed 160
euros a night for a hotel whose physical beauty, were it to be located in Europe, could easily command twice that amount.
The main squares of old Havana are unforgettable Spanish
colonial gems well worth their World Heritage Site status.
Do not wear any jewellry or carry a handbag while walking these streets. There is NOT the level of police presence here the Cuban tourist board claims there is. Nor is the crime rate low.
My wife and I learned this the hard way. Good luck!!"
- Travel date: Wed 13th of December 2006
A real Gem
"After a lot of web searching we finally decided to make a reservation at Hotel raquel for our weekend in Havana. We wanted somewhere central and friendly - we were not disappointed!
We arrived very late (after a long delay) and the staff could not have been more friendly. We were quicky shown to our room, and told that the bar was open if we would like a drink!
Our room was absolutely lovely with lots of Cuban character and unique decoration.
The hotel itself is very art-deco in appearance and perfectly placed for wandering around Havana Vieja.
I would definitely go back when I re-visit Havana"
- Travel date: Tue 21st of November 2006
Awesome location, pretty hotel, great staff
"I did a lot of research before deciding on Hotel Raquel. I was very very very happy that I did not go with Habana Libre or even Hotel Nacional. The location of this hotel is absolutely perfect, located within Habana Vieja itself. It had beautiful stained glass ceilings, very charming rooms and the shower pressure was great! We had a wonderful time chatting with the hotel staff, especially the bartenders. The staff even helped us book dinner with La Guarida, the famous paladar!
The only downside that I can think off is the breakfast, where some of the deli meats seemed to have been out for too long. Stick to the made-to-order omelets.
Dining tip: - Santa Angel Restaurant, just a few minutes walk from the hotel, delicious and cheap food!
Safety tip - we encountered a pair of very "friendly" locals, who sat down with us and proceeded to order themselves alcohol. He aggresively offered to sell us cigars while she proceeded to solicit our friend. Be careful. Watch out for a guy that keeps saying "What you think?""
- Travel date: Thu 2nd of November 2006
Good central location
"This hotel is ideal as a base to sightsee Havana - it's in the charming old town but only 10 mins walk from the new city... it's a beautiful looking hotel especially its entrance. Our room was large and comfortable enough for our 4 nights stay. But it was a little noisy - ask for a room as far away from the lift as possible.
It's only a minutes walk from the lovely Plaza Vieja which is somewhere all should visit, and within a few minutes of all the local attractions e.g. Hemingway bars, Bar/Restaurant Muralla etc.
Staff were friendly and helpful, although sometimes the bar staff make you feel obliged to tip them. That's one word of warning about Havana, and Cuba, make sure you have plenty of change for tipping, wages are low so tipping really helps!
Enjoy Havana - an interesting and fun place to go, even though some of the buildings are falling down! It's certainly an education and a humbling experience. And take PLENTY of insect repellent, you'll need it!"
- Travel date: Tue 19th of September 2006
"This is the hotel to be if you want to have a romantic vacation. It is clean & safe. The rooms are not overly luxurious but they are simple and charming. The lobby, staircase and an old elevator complete the romantic picture by preserving the originality of the building. Yes, you are located in the heart of the Old Havana where all the action is. But don't expect for the area to be quiet and the food to be great. You go there to experience Cuba not the food. The location will give you an insight into every day life of a Cuban. Not everything you see will be easy on the eye but it is all part of Cuban reality. If you prefer not to be bothered by that and only see nice things you should consider one of the resorts. My husband and I are planning another trip in 2007."
- Travel date: Sun 3rd of September 2006
"we stayed at the hotel for 10 days with our 19 year old and 4 year old, they both loved it. The hotel itself abounds in understated elegance and is situated centrally in one of the cleaner, quieter areas of old Havana. Great rooms (for for one with a balcony), staff were great and the cleaning ladies excellent. Cant wait to go back.Very child friendly, only thing it misses is a swimming pool."
- Travel date: Sat 12th of August 2006