On the edge of Havana's old town, just off of the Paseo de Marti, and within spitting distance of the Presidential Palace and the Capitol, stands a spectacular 1908 building that houses the famous Hotel Sevilla, now run by the Accor group and one of the most expensive places to stay in Havana.
This was the place to stay in Havana during Batista's regime, and photos line the wall in the ground floor gallery show a number of the celebrities and gangsters who stayed here during the hotels heyday in the '30s and '40s. The hotel even features in Graham Greene's novel "Our Man in Havana" as the place where Wormwood meets Hawthorne. The hotel was left to rot following the revolution as a symbol of the corruption that Castro and his companeros sought to overthrow. Bought up by the French hotel chain, it has recently been lovingly restored to its former grandeur.
The 188 rooms are spacious but basic with twin beds, combination lock room safe and dodgy Russian air-conditioning that will keep you awake all night if you make the mistake of switching it on. The en-suite bathrooms have the standard set-up of basin, bath, shower and a some-what erratic hot water supply. The ground floor has 24 hour reception with a friendly English speaking staff, a shopping arcade with a number of boutiques, tour agencies and the requisite tobacconist, and a sauna, fitness club and swimming pool that are open to non-guests for a small fee.
The ground floor bar is pleasant and airy with an open roof, decorated like a Seville Patio complete with a working fountain; this is a great place to take a break from the rigors of the city with a long cool drink. The Mary Pickford (rum, pineapple juice, grenadine and ice) is the specialty of the house, this refreshing cocktail was invented in this bar in the 1920s. Upstairs is a marvelous roof-top restaurant, where the complimentary breakfast is served each morning, the large windows that surround the room command spectacular views over Havana's old city and out onto the Caribbean sea.
The extortionate room prices, even by Havana standards, means this is probably not a place that you are likely want to stay for long, but it is worth a visit to see the gallery of old photos, the relaxing patio bar and the unique views over the city.