June 17, 2024



The Plaza Hotel, a Century in the Heart of Havana

In 2008 it arrived at its one hundredth galaxy blue sapphire and its privileged location allows a lot of guests visiting Havana City to benefit from it.

It started to function as a hotel since 1909 when it was placed in one of the corners of Central Park. This neighborhood had become very important in the capital after the demolition of the Havana Wall in the second half of the XIX century and it was the actual center of the city until the mid 1950’s.

The Plaza is the typical city hotel. A 10- minute walk will take the visitor to the Malecon, the most cosmopolitan place of the city, and it takes even less time to get to the historical center. That’ s why it has a privileged location if one desires to really know Old Havana, declared World Heritage.

The hotel hasn’ t changed much its structure since the beginnings of last century and it has the atmosphere of the epoch. It is wide and spacious, you can get lost in its rooms. It combines the colonial style with the comfort of modern life. Its location is favored and from its balconies and terraces you can have one of the most beautiful views of Havana.

But how did the Plaza Hotel come to be well- known in time?

The plot where the hotel is placed today was bestowed to the church in the XVI century. Later, it was bought by a couple; Gaspar Arteaga y Petronila Medrano.After the construction of the Havana Wall there was a lawsuit concerning this land and its extension was affected. The owners insisted and it was given back to the grandchildren of Petronila y Gaspar.

With the demolition of the Wall, the neighborhood Las Murallas ( The Walls) started to develop.

In 1895, when the land was a property of the Pedroso 98 family, a two- floor house was built. By the end of the century, the house was modified and the current facade was added. At the time the place was not only a family house but it used to host one of the most important newspapers of the Cuban society until 1959, El Diario de la Marina.

In 1902 the building was bought by an American interested in turning it into a hotel so that he would enlarge it. This business became complicated for in 1906 the newspaper was still in the building. That same year the American owner was very disappointed and he sold his property to Leopoldo Gonzalez Carvajal, the controversial Marquese of Pinar del Rio who finally managed to turn it into a hotel on January 3rd 1909, when it became a four- flour impressive building, one of the highest in Havana at that time.

Since then, and until its intervention in 1960 or 1961, the hotel was managed by the Carvajal family who rented it several times to different companies for it to be commercialized.Although it was also at the service of other companies that didn’ t have anything to do with the hotel business.

At the end of the XIX century and the beginning, hotels in Havana were classified into two groups: the Spanish type and the American type, which incorporated the comfort and advantages of modern life.

As we have said before, the only luxurious hotel in Havana at that time was the Sevilla. There were others that classified as First Class and the Plaza was considered the number one of American type and the Inglaterra was the leader among those of Spanish type.

Of the owner, Carvajal, there is a peculiar anecdote that is worth telling here.

He was the owner of the cigar brands “Cabanas y Carvajal” and ” Por Larranaga”. His fortune made him think he had the right to penetrate the most exclusive circles of Havana aristocracy. But the aristocrats called him ” the cigar man” with sarcasm and contempt.

Carvajal traveled to Spain and there he helped the crown more than once; so in gratitude King Fernando VII named him Marquese of Pinar del Rio. He came back to Cuba with his brand-new title.