Cibercuba depicts the history of the former Havana Hilton

Posted: 07-Jul-16 12:38

This website dissects every piece of the Habana Libre's history. One of the most emblematic buildings in the Cuban capital, the hotel was founded over half a century ago. Originally the Havana Hilton, it was nationalized and renamed 'Habana Libre' after the Cuban Revolution triumphed. Over the years, it has received prestigious guests from all over the world and as US-Cuba relations work towards normalization even heiress Paris Hilton couldn't resist snapping a shot in front of it.

Cibercuba depicts the history of the former Havana Hilton

As any local or foreigner wanders through the heart of Havana’s modern Vedado neighbourhood, they cannot help but notice the reference point that guides their way: an imposing construction towering 137 metres above sea level with large letters on top that read "Habana Libre". A true jewel dating from the island’s mid-20th century architecture, this renowned hotel remains one of the most important landmarks in Havana to this day.

After several years of planning, the hotel, valued in over 21 million dollars, opened its doors on March 1958. To the amazement of people from all over the world, it was inaugurated as the largest and tallest hotel building in all Latin America. How did such an enormous and beautiful construction come to be and how did it evolve over time? Cibercuba website lets us know more about it by sharing its history and persisting importance.

Founded as the Havana Hilton by the prestigious American hotel chain run by Conrad Hilton, the plans for this grand venue began in 1953. The magnate chose some of the most important architects at the time to take part in its creation include the famous Welton Beckett as well as locals Nicolas Arroyo and Gabriela Menendez.

Why in Havana? Hilton saw a gold mine opportunity by investing here. In the 1950s Cuba was a flourishing Caribbean destination preferred by many celebrities and its capital was known as the "Paris of the Americas" due to its upbeat and extravagant nightlife. However, Conrad Hilton was never able to receive the profits of his millionaire investment. Shortly after the Cuban Revolution triumphed, the hotel was nationalized in 1960 and its name changed to what it remains today "Habana Libre".

Today, the hotel keeps most of its original assets: a main floor with a large lobby, reception and administration headquarters, a large mezzanine, four restaurants and 21 floors of lavish rooms: 360 regular rooms and 42 suites. It also includes a cocktail lounge, a solarium and a crystal viewpoint on the 30th floor. The large 530 m3 swimming pool on the rooftop remains to this day as does the famous bar "Las Canitas". Nonetheless the casino designed for over 500 people ceased to exist immediately after it was nationalized.

In 1994, the Habana Libre underwent a series of repairs and redecorations to modernize its façade and interior. The balcony area of most rooms was reduced to make them more spacious and PVC crystals were placed on the windows. More than $300,000 was invested in embellishing the hotel’s entrance: a 670m2 mosaic mural of white, blue and black crystal tiles was added following the patterns of renowned Cuban artist Amelia Pelaez as well as a magnificent sculpture of crystal and metal called "Clepsidra" designed by another famous local artist, Rita Longa.

This 5-star landmark beauty (property of the Cuban government but run today by the Spanish hotel chain Melia International has welcomed and continues to welcome a great number of celebrities from all over the world, from actress Sara Montiel to football player Iker Casillas.

As the thaw between Cuba and US continues to develop and steps are taken towards harmonious cooperation the question of offering refunds for the expropriation of goods arises once more. Aside from the polemic issues this subject arises what is certain is that not even heiress Paris Hilton could resist visiting Havana after the normalization process began. As she gazed upon her grandfather’s former hotel in the heart of the city, she snapped a selfie to perpetuate the experience.


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £599 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £619 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
sercotel club cayo guillermo

Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo

3.0 stars

The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
tryp cayo coco

Tryp Cayo Coco

4.0 stars

The perfect beach holiday awaits you the all-inclusive Tryp Cayo Coco hotel, where non-stop entertainment and utmost...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £699 per person
memories holguin

Memories Holguin

4.0 stars

Enjoy a perfect beach setting while you unwind in the historic sands of the all-inclusive Memories Holguin. A short...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us