Cuba Absolutely Review
The 354-room Riviera was opened in December, 1957 with a performance by Ginger Rogers at the Copa Room cabaret and was blessed by Cardinal Manuel Arteaga just a few days later. The construction is a fantastic example of modern architecture in Cuba and is in harmony with the heritage-rich area in which it is located. Some of the unique elements of this building include its blue and green tiled cupola from the old casino that used to stand here and the fact that acoustics were designed so that the sounds of chips and slot machines would propagate around the entire building to attract guests to the casino. Additionally, the building itself, with its Y shape, was designed so that all rooms have a view of the sea. And the sculpture La Sirena y el Pez (The Mermaid and the Fish) by Florencio Gelabert makes Hotel Riviera unmistakable.
This is another notable Havana landmark being one of the last mafia hotels completed in the 1950’s by Meyer Lansky as part of a plan to establish a network of casino hotels in Cuba just before the revolution. Unfortunately today it does appear somewhat run down now although you can dampen the dreariness in the’50s-style pool. This is one of the only salt water pools in Havana and has a real buzz to it although be warned that the holiday camp feel is not to everyone’s taste.
The legendary Copa Room cabaret offers great entertainment at a price far cheaper than Tropicana. The location on a wild and wavelashed section of the Malecón is spectacular, although a short bus or taxi ride from the Old Town.
Famous guests include Abbot and Costello, Vic Damone, Stewart Granger, Alain Delon, Gabriel García Márquez, Michel Legrand, Rocky Marciano, Kid Chocolate, and the first woman astronaut, Valentina Tereshkova, and many more.
The 354 rooms are looking like they haven’t seen a decent makeover since Lansky last checked out.
All standard rooms at the Riviera have views of the ocean thanks to the building’s Y-shaped design. Rooms whose numbers end in 11 and 13 (on every floor) have balconies, and rooms 5 and 6 and 11 and 12 on the 20th floor are connecting quarters, ideal for traveling groups.
Junior suites offer extra space and a large seating room, done in the same style of the standard. The bathrooms are large and practical.
Facing the Malecón, a short taxi ride away from Old Havana, the Habana Riviera is relatively near most of the more renowned and better nightclubs and restaurants in Vedado (the popular Jazz Café is across the street).