KLM Travel Guide

The Cuban spring blossoms

Thanks to recent reforms, Cubans have gained many newfound freedoms: they can go on holidays abroad, buy a new car or... start their own company. Many are taking full advantage of the latter: recently overhauled private restaurants, hip cocktail bars and creative boutique hotels are blossoming in Havana.

Arts & Culture
One of the many ‘paladares’ in Havana

One of the many ‘paladares’ in Havana

Dining in a revamped paladar

Cuban cuisine is not that celebrated: meals often consist of little more than rice and beans. But a new generation of paladares, the typical Cuban private restaurants, is showing that Cuban cuisine has a lot more to offer. A great choice is Le Chansonnier. Set in a beautiful colonial house with a modern interior, the restaurant is headed by Chef Enrique who treats his guests to nouvelle cuisine a lo Cubano. Start with the octopus carpaccio, followed by a duck breast and caramel flan for dessert. Arguably Havana’s best paladar.

X Alfonso

X Alfonso

Drinking and dancing in an art factory

Havana’s hip locals gather in this former olive oil factory transformed into a gallery, eatery, cocktail bar, cinema and a nightclub. Inaugurated by Cuban musician X Alfonso, this art centre offers a host of activities: there are exhibits, fashion shows, dance performances and pop concerts, but guests can also just sip a mojito at the bar. On weekends, artsy Cubans and tourists dance way into the night. And whether it is opening night or not, there is always a lengthy line outside.

The stylish interior of Casa Vitrales

The stylish interior of Casa Vitrales

Spend the night in a Cuban boutique hotel

Casa Vitrales, in the historic centre of Havana, is a modern and comfortable version of the typical Cuban casa particular (accommodations in a private home). While preserving the old details of this colonial house, the 9 rooms have been equipped with modern conveniences such as box-spring beds and air conditioning. The rooftop terrace is perfect for breakfast or a drink, with wonderful views of the old city. The price is also pretty sweet: a double room starts at 25 euro. For 375 euro you can rent the entire house - with room for 18 people.

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