Cuba is slowly but surely becoming one of the most desirable destinations to explore right now. For a first-time visit, Havana – the country's capital – is a great place to start. The vibrant city has been visited by everyone from Beyoncé to Madonna, and most recently Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, and it's easy to see why. This year, I thought it was about time I took a trip there too, and during the visit, I stayed at the luxury Iberostar Grand Packard, a centrally-located five-star hotel. The stay made this once-in-a-lifetime trip even more enjoyable, and had some pretty impressive facilities that made it near-impossible to want to leave.
Iberostar Grand Packard is situated right in the centre of Havana
What makes Iberostar Grand Packard so great?
Iberostar Grand Packard is situated on the Paseo de Prado, the street that divides central Havana and the city's old town – which is just a five minute walk away. The hotel's stand-out feature is its rooftop pool – which you will get far too used to by the time you leave, making the leisure centre seem dismal in comparison on your return home. There are also four restaurants and two bars in the hotel, ranging from a tapas restaurant to a breakfast buffet. The latter is particularly impressive – pancakes are made on order, along with cooked breakfasts, salads, pastries and fresh juices, which you can enjoy sitting on the terrace while watching the city wake up. Guests can also enjoy a cigar and piano bar, where entertainment is provided on set nights. For a spot of relaxing, the hotel's spa is particularly enjoyable, complete with a sauna, steam room and jacuzi, along with a long list of treatments to help you unwind. For a memorable experience, try the Cuban massage, where the oil is mixed with rum, and your given a cigar afterwards. You can even get your hair cut or styled, enjoy a manicure or get your eyebrows tinted for the ultimate pamper session. For those wanting to keep your fitness levels up while on holiday, the hotel has a gym complete with a dedicated workout service.
Watch the world go by on the rooftop poolside
Get your own butler staying in the Star Prestige area
If you are feeling really fancy, guests can even choose a room in the Star Prestige area, which is a separate part of the hotel that offers your very own concierge service. From the moment you arrive, you will be made to feel like a VIP. Staff offer you a welcome drink of champagne. We were lucky enough to be staying in this part of the hotel, and when we arrived at midnight, the drink was still waiting for us. How could we possible say no? You will also be allocated your own butler, who is on-call 24 hours a day, and who will be able to assist with any requests, including room service. You can even get your own choice of pillow for the perfect night's sleep.
Rooms have everything you could possibly need - and more
Iberostar Grand Packard has 321 suites and luxury rooms, which are all equipped with air-conditioning, a coffee machine, a satellite TV, minibar, iron and ironing board and hairdryer. Rooms start at £184 a night for a Deluxe Room, and can sleep up to three adults, or two adults and two children. For ultimate luxury, the Star Prestige Packard Suite – which starts at £692 a night, includes an ocean-view, whirlpool bath and personalised mini bar.
A long list of treatments are available at the spa
What to do in Havana
There is so much to do and see in Havana, and the staff at Iberostar Grand Packard are on hand to help ensure that you get the most out of your stay, offering advice on where to go and what to see – from iconic landmarks such as the Plaza de la Revolución, to going on an old car tour of the city. During our own car tour, we found out from our driver that we were sitting in the exact car that Madonna had ridden in during her visit to the city, and if it's good enough for her…During the tour, we also ventured into the beautiful Havana forest - a must for anyone wishing to see a very different, and peaceful side of the city. Royal fans will also enjoy taking a visit to the Princess Diana memorial garden. The inner-city garden is situated in Old Havana, and is filled with beautiful botanical plants and a fountain.
One of the things many of the locals had recommended to us was a night at the world-famous Tropicana show. The event is so popular that people travel over on a ferry from Florida just for the evening, and it certainly didn't disappoint. It was a night that was just-about memorable thanks to the generous servings of rum. For every two people, visitors are given a glass of prosecco and bottle of rum for the night, while cocktails are also served at the bar.
Breakfast is included, along with fast Wi-Fi. For more information, visit Iberostar.com