Hotel Tryp Habana Libre
|Hotel Tryp Habana Libre|
Hotel Tryp Habana Libre
|Hotel chain||Tryp Hotels|
|Address||Calle L e/ 23 y 25, Vedado|
|Opening||March 22, 1958|
|Management||Sol Meliá Hotels|
|Design and construction|
|Number of rooms||569|
|Number of restaurants||4|
The hotel was built as the Habana Hilton, under the personal auspices of President Fulgencio Batista, as an investment by the pension plan of the Cuban Catering Workers' Union, and was operated by the American Hilton Hotels group. The hotel was designed by the well-known Los Angeles architect Welton Becket, who had previously designed the Beverly Hilton for the chain, in collaboration with the Havana-based architects Lin Arroyo and Gabriela Menéndez. Arroyo was the Minister of Public Works under Batista.
Opened on March 22, 1958 with Conrad Hilton himself in attendance, following four days of festivities, the Habana Hilton was Latin America's tallest and largest hotel. It boasted a Trader Vic's, as well as a casino, supper club, pool and rooftop bar.
Following the entry of Fidel Castro into Havana, on January 8, 1959, the hotel became his headquarters, with Castro residing for three months in suite 2324. The casinos throughout the city were briefly closed, but protests by Havana casino workers led to their reopening in February.
The hotel remained in operation as a Hilton for two more unsuccessful years as relations between the US and Cuba worsened, until October 1960, when all American hotels in Cuba were nationalized and the casinos permanently closed. The hotel was then renamed the Hotel Habana Libre (Hotel Free Havana).
In 1996 the Spanish Sol Meliá chain assumed management of the hotel. It was placed in their Tryp division of urban hotels and renamed Hotel Tryp Habana Libre. It was renovated between 1996 and 1997. Among the highlights of the work was the restoration of an enormous original mural by artist Amelia Peláez over the main entrance which had spent decades hidden from public view.
Hotel Habana Libre is just a few steps from the popular ice-cream parlor Coppelia.
The restored mural by Amelia Peláez is visible above the main entrance
Havana public bus passing the Amelia Peláez mural
Amelia Peláez mural over the main entrance
Main entrance with Amelia Peláez mural
- Sol Meliá Cuba - Habana Libre - Sol Meliá Cuba official website
- Sol Meliá - Habana Libre - Sol Meliá International official web site
- Hotel Habana Libre.com - hotel fansite
- Havana Hilton under construction, 1958 on YouTube