Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Cuba: Breakfast at the Hotel Inglaterra, Havana

The oldest hotel in Havana, the Hotel Inglaterra was our regular venue for breakfast.  We came upon it by chance on our first morning in the city.  Fatigued from a long flight and struggling with the heat and humidity, its calm, cool interior felt, perhaps, just a little English!
Venerable, stately even, Hotel Inglaterra has the air of knowing who it is and being comfortable in its own skin.  There may be more modern, swish and extra star-rated hotels on the block, but, from behind its neoclassical facade, it has watched almost 160 years of life in Havana.  Guests of all nationalities and political persuasions have come and gone, Jose Marti amongst them.  Fashions and trends have waxed and waned.  The Hotel Inglaterra has seen it all, pretty much.  Confident in its own identity, it has no hang ups about accepting you in, whoever you are.  I loved its quiet welcome.  
It's a great place to start the day.  Opposite Parque Central and next to the Gran Teatro, it's at the hub of Havana.  As the early morning sun lights up the hotel facade and the doormen step out onto the terrace, the surrounding streets are waking up as people set out to work and children go off to school. Classic communal taxis pass in procession, picking up fares at the traffic lights on the corner.
Early morning in El Colonial restaurant and breakfast room  
Breakfast costs 6 CUC per person.  It's served in El Colonial restaurant which is decorated with colourful geometric Spanish ceramics and exudes a faintly moorish character.  You don't have to be resident to go in for breakfast. Through the louvred windows Havana begins to rev up as you linger over fresh fruit, yoghurts, pastries, cereals, pancakes, eggs, fish, meat, cheese ...  It's a pretty comprehensive buffet.

Service is relaxed, shall we say, rather than briskly efficient, but, like everywhere else in this world, a smile, a please and a thank you go a long way.
Outside, later in the day, there is often entertainment on the pavement Gran Cafe El Louvre where you can sit with a coffee and watch the world watching you.

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