The 21-room Hotel Raquel opened in June 2003 following extensive renovation work in the heart of Old Havana. Located in a dazzling 1908 palace (that was once a bank), this is a wonderfully idiosyncratic building with a neo-Churrigueresque façade and tendrils of Art Nouveau wrought iron decoration, the Hotel Raquel contains further delightful design eccentricities including a vast stained glass canopy roof and a watchtower from which one can look out over the streets and squares of Old Havana.
The reception area in this marvelous eclectic building is a tourist sight in its own right – it’s replete with priceless antiques and intricate art-nouveau flourishes. The hotel has one of the only Jewish restaurants in Havana. There is also a small gym.
Many of the 25 rooms have biblical names and are rather charming and intimate thanks to the detailed outfitting. Brass beds with fine, honey-hued linens, marble baths and both real and faux antiques lend them a luxurious turn-of-the-century feel.
Tastefully decorated, done in pale, creamy colours that lend this combination a soothing and welcoming feel (The opulent drapes over the tall windows, wrought-iron beds and ornately-tiled floors do not create an austere, stuffy feeling; rather, a strangely practical and relaxed ambience is achieved). The bathrooms are spacious and feature tub showers. Couples best secure one of the mere 2 standard rooms with matrimonial beds, and those who can’t do without fresh air should certainly book one of the few rooms with stone balconies (or opt for a junior suite). Fourteen rooms have views.
A bit larger than the standards, all of these suites have balconies overlooking the surrounding streets and a modest seating area. The writing desks may be regarded as a nice, additional touch by more literary spirits.
The Raquel’s immediate surrounding is not the most salubrious, but the Plaza Vieja is just down the street and many remarkable sights – in the colonial heart of Havana – are only a couple of blocks away. A stroll up San Ignacio takes you straight to the Cathedral of Havana.