Havana – Hotel Raquel

Havana - Hotel Raquel

Restored in 2003, this Art Deco gem, hidden down a quiet street in Old Havana, has rooms named after Old Testament figures. Though sparsely furnished, the rooms are elegant with tiled floors on three storeys. The service is friendly and relaxed and the lobby restaurant, surrounded by Art Deco screens, serves kosher food such as chicken soup with matzo balls and shashliks. The hotel boasts a beautiful atrium covered by a magnificent orange-and-blue stained-glass roof, and views over the labyrinthine streets and alleys of the old town.

A stunning work of architecture, the Raquel contrasts dramatically with its not-so-picturesque surroundings, a rather humble residential area whose one, redeeming virtue is its proximity to the Plaza Vieja and other sites of interest in the Old Town.

The hotel’s ornate and eclectic facade is well matched by the interiors, which are likely to make a powerful first impression: shining marble floors, polished columns and posh period sofas surround you in the kind of palatial luxury you might expect to find in a presidential mansion or high-class art museum. The most striking feature of this grand lobby is doubtless the curved fanlight which crowns a high atrium past the reception desk, which lets in soothing tones of yellow and draws many glances skyward.

This “lavishness” is not the only delightful peculiarity which sets the hotel apart from others in the Old Town. The Raquel is also known for its references to Jewish tradition and faith, which consist of various decorative items (such as a stone engraving of a star of David at the reception) and symbolic artifacts (mezuzahs affixed to room doorframes) scattered about the establishment. The elegant hotel restaurant also serves typical Jewish cuisine, such as borscht and latkes.

Source: cntraveller.com