Harrolds’ general manager reveals his cool, quirky and stylish finds in Cuba’s capital.

Havana is a hot destination right now. Just ask The Rolling Stones, who performed a free concert at the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva in March. Or Chanel, which staged a runway show on the Paseo del Prado in May. Better still, ask Ross Poulakis, of Australian luxury department store Harrolds, who has visited Havana several times in the past five years. He shares his tips on where to go in this spirited city overflowing with rum and rumba. 

SEE ALSO: The Instagrammer's Guide to Cuba

Best place to stay

Meliá Habana

“This is where many celebrities stay when they’re in town and the service is fantastic. There’s a pool – the largest in all of the city’s hotels – with a swim-up bar that serves the most refreshing cocktails. Have a margarita and enjoy the live music.” Avenida 3ra e76y80, Miramar

Best restaurant

La Bodeguita del Medio

“La Bodeguita del Medio is a small, iconic restaurant in Old Havana. Above the bar is a framed napkin on which Ernest Hemingway wrote: ‘My mojito in La Bodeguita / My daiquiri in El Floridita.’ It’s a very busy spot offering authentic Cuban cuisine.” Empedrado 207, Old Havana

Ross Poulakis’s Havana

Best music venue 

Piano Bar Delirio Habanero

“Havana’s hottest place is this live-music venue in the national theatre that serves traditional food. You’ll be sitting there eating when, suddenly, people start dancing and you’re compelled to get involved. It’s good fun.” Teatro Nacional de Cuba, Avenida Paseo, Plaza de la Revolución

Best interiors shop

Piscolabis 

“You can pick up some really quirky things at this eclectic homewares store and café. It sells unique printed pillows, vintage accent pieces and Cuban shirts and artworks.” San Ignacio 75, Old Havana; piscolabishabana.com

Best market 

Plaza de Armas

“I didn’t go to markets before visiting Cuba but the market at Plaza de Armas changed my perspective and took me away from the luxury scene that surrounds me at work. You’ll find clothing, souvenirs, fabrics, crafts, paintings and one-offs.” Corner of Tacón and O’Reilly, Old Havana

Best experience

The Malecón, Centro Habana 

“On this waterfront esplanade frequented mostly by locals, I walked into a rustic bar with a Melbourne laneway feel. The brickwork was exposed, there were cool artworks on the wall and the bar was minimalist. People were drinking and dancing into the night and the party spilled onto the street.” 

Best Instagram shot

Plaza de la Revolución“Political rallies are held in this huge square where Fidel Castro has addressed the masses. It’s also known for the massive portraits of revolutionaries Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos on the sides of two buildings.”

Don’t miss…

“Do a cigar tour that includes a visit to a farm, where the farmer may roll you a fresh cigar. We visited a farmer who did a pig on the spit for our group, which was so authentic and unexpected.” 

SEE ALSO: Experience the Old and The New in Havana, Cuba

 

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