The scent of sandalwood incense permeates the air as you step inside the Hotel Havana in San Antonio, Texas. Originally built by a local grocer as a residential hotel for his buyers, the Mediterranean Revival three-story property opened in 1914. Today, it is a 27-room boutique hotel decorated with Cuban flair.
Our first floor queen suite with eleven-foot ceilings, original wood floors and a separate reading room was anything but stuffy. The bed was painted turquoise and an orange-sherbet stuffed chair sits in the corner beside a black-laquered antique bureau.
Two bright red cotton robes hang in the white tiled bathroom with a green bead board ceiling.
The reading room formerly served as a porch and has a floor-to-ceiling window dividing the space from the bedroom. Tucked into a brick alcove is a desk with a basket of regional goodies and souvenirs–Spanish game cards $5, a Hotel Havana Good Luck Monkey $25, maracas $8, Goya Dulce de Leche wafers $4, chewy pecan praline $3 and Texas pecan chocolate toffee $10. A refrigerator is stocked with beverages–everything from rum to coconut water. On the day of our arrival, the hotel presented us with a pitcher of Margaritas–deliciously tart and refreshing during the heat of the day.
The basement-level Havana Bar, lit only by candlelight, is extremely popular with locals. The hotel’s restaurant, Ocho, is enclosed in a soaring glass atrium with three chandeliers dripping with crystals. On warm days, the walls are lifted and patrons sit on stools overlooking the San Antonio River. The rain drizzled as we sipped Joe’s coffee and ate toasted bolillo with blackberry butter. Decorated with whimsical distractions–stuffed chairs with horns for feet and a cake stand-shaped fish tank, the restaurant quickly became one of our favorite finds in the city.
The hotel is just a few blocks from the Alamo and steps from the River Walk. For now, it is a quiet section of the city. We suspect that will change when the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts is constructed. The stunning 1920s structure is a block away with an anticipated opening of Spring 2014.
While staying at the historic Hotel Havana, we learned that some guests have reported seeing ghosts. Perhaps, they did. The property is a little bit of heaven for the hip.
1015 Navarro Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205
Thanks to the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau for hosting our trip to the Alamo City.