Historical hotels in the Caribbean and Central America
Gems of colonial architecture, charming palaces, former residences of distinguished figures and surprisingly well-preserved mansions: from Santo Domingo to Havana, not to mention Old San Juan, Panama City and Antigua in Guatemala, discover some illustrious hotels behind whose walls history was made.
1 Hotel Santa Isabel in Havana
Located in the Counts of Santovenia Palace, the Habaguanex Santa Isabel Hotel is one of the most emblematic places in Havana’s historical centre. This 18th-century building is located in the Plaza de Armas, just steps from the site where the city was founded. It was converted into a hotel in 1867, and reopened its doors in 1997 as a luxury destination. Today, it continues to preserve its original colonial air, thanks to features such as its old central courtyard and 19th-century decoration. It also boasts an elegant restaurant and a large terrace with excellent views of Havana Bay and the Old Town.
2 Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando in Santo Domingo
This boutique hotel is located in the former residence of Fray Nicolás de Ovando, the first European governor of the Americas. Pedro Santana, the first constitutional president of the Dominican Republic, also lived here for a while. It was converted in a luxury hotel in 2003. Behind its austere Isabelline Gothic [is this correct?] façade, the Hodelpa Nicolás de Ovando offers areas featuring colonial elements – patios, cisterns, historical furniture – and other parts with more contemporary decoration. It is located on Las Damas, the first paved street in the New World, in the heart of the colonial city of Santo Domingo. From here, you can visit other nearby historical monuments such as the Ozama Fortress, the National Pantheon and the Columbus Alcazar. Or you can immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of the Old Town.
3 Palacio Provincial in San Juan
The Palacio Provincial Hotel opened its doors as a historic guesthouse last year opposite the Plaza de Armas, in Old San Juan. The Neoclassical building is considered an architectural jewel and dates from 1874. At one time, it was home to the Provincial Council of Spain in Puerto Rico. It was visited by the Infanta Eulalia, the youngest daughter of Spain’s Queen Isabella II, in 1893. The colonial architecture of this boutique hotel is mixed with elegant, modern decorations. It features an events room, library, pool, bar and outdoor restaurant, along with a rooftop boasting views of San Juan Bay and the historic centre.
4 Porta Hotel Antigua, Guatemala
Surrounded by lush gardens and boasting views of the Agua Volcano, this luxurious hotel is just minutes from the popular Antigua Central Park. Opened in 1948, it has been chosen as one of the five best hotels in Central America by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. It features a bar, restaurant, saunas, event rooms, terraces and a spectacular pool flanked by plants and vines. Around the Porta Hotel Antigua, you can discover the legacy of one of the best-preserved colonial cities in the Americas, designed a Unesco World Heritage Site due to its great historical and cultural value.
5 American Trade Hotel in Panama City
The beautiful building that is home to this boutique hotel was built in 1917 and restored in 2013. It is located in the Old Town, the historic area of Panama City and evokes the splendour of a past time. The renovation includes modern and cosmopolitan decoration. From its highest floors, you can see the Calzada de Amador – also known as Amador Causeway – the artificial roadway connecting the city to the islands of Naos, Perico and Flamenco). The American Trade Hotel is surrounded by restaurants, night clubs and cultural spaces. Just minutes away, you can visit the Plaza de la Independence, the Smithsonian Institute of Panama, the Panama Canal Museum, the History Museum and the Natural Science Museum.