no alt text

Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 24 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Claire Boobbyer

This Havana landmark – a huge, vanilla-hued confection looming above the sea – is the city’s most storied building. From its opening in 1930, it has hosted Olympians, presidents, Hollywood stars and mots notoriously perhaps, the Mob. Johnny ‘Tarzan’ Weissmuller dived into the Nacional pool from his room, and the Mob dined on roast flamingo during their 1946 Mafia conference.

The hotel has a unique and extraordinary history, and offers excellent daily guided tours. These fascinating tours divulge the gossip on the famous guest list, delve down into tunnels buried in the gardens dug by the government during the tense days of the 1962 Missile Crisis, and end in the ‘Hall of Fame’ – a room decorated with hundreds of photos of famous guests on the walls.

While you’re there 

The hotel’s popular terrace is the place in Havana to sip minty mojitos. Come back at dusk for sunsets over the ocean, and when traditional Cuban musicians play.


Price from: £4
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 1+ hours

Getting there & doing it

The Hotel Nacionale is unmissable, rising up above Vedado, right in the centre of Havana.

No booking is needed. Turn up 10 minutes before the tour and congregate by the tourism bureau desk in the lobby. The tour price includes a cocktail in the Hall of Fame. Tours are free to hotel guests.

When to do it

Tours run Monday to Saturday at 10am.

Destination guides


Destination guides including or relevant to this experience



Colorful colonial buildings, Havana, Cuba

Sensual and sultry communist Caribbean capital, home to captivating, crumbling architecture, and enlivened by dance, music, avant-garde art and cocktails. Impossible to describe, there’s nowhere else quite like it.