The newly re-opened (April 2008) boutique property, Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno, is located on O'Reilly Steet metres from Obispo Street and nearby Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral and Parque Central squares. The hotel is named after the prominent family that lived there and turned the colonial 18th century mansion into a hotel.
This smaller boutique 4-star hotel, backing up to the popular and elegant Hotel Florida, offers greater intimacy. Its plain exterior on Calle O'Reilly belies the aristocratic beauty beyond the huge carriage doors, where airy loggias held aloft by arches of local limestone surround an atrium courtyard framed by lathe-turned rejas (grills) on the upper level.
Delightful touches include the original black and white marble floors, pendulous wrought-iron lanterns, and fragments of ancient murals adorning the walls, while relics discovered during archaeological digs grace the guest rooms and public spaces. And a thoughtful color scheme of rose and robins-eggshell-blue produces satisfying sensations of calm. A highlight is the old-style tavern that opens directly onto Calle O'Reilly.
We love the 16 standard rooms and three suites (with Internet modems and decorated with restored murals from the 18th and 19th centuries), including some dedicated for non-smokers. No tacky furnishings here! Mahogany antique reproductions stand atop marble floors, and the modernized bathrooms are elegantly fitted out. All are air-conditioned and have satellite TVs, phones, minibars, in-room safes, and hair-dryers. All in all, a lovely place!
The heart and soul of Havana is the old town Habana Vieja, declared a Heritage of Mankind Site in 1982 by UNESCO. It was keen to preserve the beauty of its architecture and promote the historical importance of its role within the region.
The following are just some of the interesting places to visit: Plaza de Armas, centred around a statue of the patriot Cespedes and emcompassed by shaded marble benches and second-hand booksellers, is the first public square built in the city. Plaza de la Catedral is perhaps the most beautiful square in the Caribbean which is surrounded by examples of the finest baroque architecture in the country. El Templete, small neoclassical temple which marks the spot where the first Mass was said in 1519. Castillo de la Real Fuerza is one of the oldest forts in the Americas, it holds modern art exhibitions downstairs and the battlements afford good views over the harbour. Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the seat of government and governor's residence was transferred from the fort to the built. The presidential palace and then the municipal palace until Castro seized power it is now Museo de la Ciudad de la Habana. Museo de Arte Colonial, fine palace constructed in 1720, its yellow courtyard and little-altered architectural features are complemented by a large collection of 17th- and 18th-century furniture. Calle Obispo is Old Havana's most important and smartest thoroughfare, pedestrianized with missile heads as bollards.