The Saratoga Hotel – Reborn
The oldest reference of what today is the elegant eclectic Saratoga Hotel dates back to 1879 when construction works for a three-story building began. The first floor was set aside for stores and a tobacco storehouse, the second for homes, and the third for a hotel or a boarding.
Standing on a portion of the former wall that once surrounded and protected the old city the Saratoga Hotel is over a century later as magnificent and radiant as it must have been in its first days. However, by 1888, nine years after construction works began, the nearly completed building was beginning to deteriorate without ever having been occupied other than by lowlife characters. The place was eventually restored and opened as the Alcázar Hotel. It was notable for its neoclassical lines and architectural sobriety, and soon became one of the most important hotels in Cuba. Together with its prime position close to the seat of government (the Capitolio) as well as to the stores and banks of Old Havana, the hotel hosted important visitors to the Havana and boasted an excellent cuisine. It was particularly famous for the outdoor performances of some of the most popular orchestras of the time–including Anacaona, a very popular all-female band.
With the city expanding towards the west together with the construction of modern hotels in the Vedado neighborhood, the Alcázar began to lose its fameand soon became an overly crowded tenement building taking on the slum-like quality it had once suffered at the beginning of its chequered life.
Following a ten year restoration undertaken by the City Historian’s Office in the 1990s, the newly named Saratoga Hotel opened its doors once again in November 2005. The building has preserved its original façade, behind which a new building has been added with two more floors.
The Saratoga has–as with many beautiful figures in history–endured a sometimes difficult life. But it has emerged with all the grace and charm of her original design, and is another jewel in Havana’s crown.