Set right opposite the Havana's famed Malecon and its waterfront
An easy walk to plenty of restaurants and bars in the Vedado
Sunlit rooms with coffeemakers, minibars, and views
“The Level” status offers stylish modern rooms and exclusive perks
Four restaurants serving top-notch food
Outstanding free buffet breakfast
Cigar lounge with evening entertainment
Spa and fitness center (closed during our visit)
Free shuttle service to Old Havana
24-hour room service
Rates are on the pricey side for Cuba
Not walking distance to Old Havana (but by the Malecon)
Chain property doesn't reflect Havana's culture
Rooms lack balconies
Spotty Wi-Fi with a complicated sign-in process (typical for Cuba)
Melia Cohiba is an upper-middle-range high-rise property with a refined, business-like vibe -- right opposite the Malecon in Havana’s Vedado district. Its 460 rooms are clean, comfortable, sunlit, and most take in spectacular city or sea views. Rooms are fresh, contemporary, and chic on “The Level” floors, yet more conservative and dated on others. Standout features include the huge pool, top-notch food (guests rave about the breakfast buffet), cigar lounge (with evening jazz), and the seafront Malecon setting. Cabs are required to most sights, but there’s a free shuttle to Old Havana, plus plenty of dining and bar options located nearby. Melia Cohiba presents polished amenities and across-the-board consistency, which many travelers seek. However, it doesn't reflect much of a sense of place. Those seeking a similar option closer to sights could try Tryp Habana Libre.
Sprawling marble interiors and a polished, international hotel vibe
A beige concrete-and-glass goliath perched right opposite the Malecon, Melia Cohiba is new by Havana standards (built in 1994), so its interiors remain relatively modern and in good shape. The expansive lobby is more evocative of a luxury property, which is how the hotel bills itself, with recessed ceilings, marble everywhere, and a formal, business-like air of sophistication. Given its mammoth size, escalators transport guests from the lobby to the restaurants and pool, while six elevators are on hand to access rooms spread out over 21 floors. But the spacious layouts of the lobby and other common areas do a good job of dispersing any crowds, and floors dedicated to The Level (Melia's executive-category) assure an exclusivity that transcends the rest. The polished urban feel is a plus for most guests who long for the reliable presentation of a renowned brand, but little feels remotely Cuban about the space.
Opposite the Malecon in Vedado, walking distance to restaurants, but a drive to most sights
Situated in the Vedado neighborhood, Melia Cohiba sits directly opposite the Malecon, considered to be Havana's main promenade and a boisterous seen-and-be-seen strip that's placed right along the waterfront. From here, it's easy to stroll along to plenty of restaurants and bars in the area. Other nearby highlights include the John Lennon monument (an 18-minute walk or eight-minute drive) and Plaza de la Revolucion (a 12-minute drive). Calle 23, a hub of restaurants, bars, and nightlife, takes an eight-minute drive to reach, and the sights and scene of Old Havana can be reached in about 15 minutes. There are generally plenty of cabs parked right out the front, so it’s never hard to get anywhere, but fares can add up -- although the hotel does provide free shuttle service to Old Havana that can ease those expenses. Jose Marti International Airport is about a 30-minute drive away.
Contemporary chic or somewhat dated -- depending on the category
Rooms and Suites come in a range of options and a range of decor -- those with The Level status (Melia's executive category) are uber-modern and fresh, while rooms in the other categories feel less stylish and leaning toward dated. The higher the category, the bigger the layout, the better the perks, and the more spectacular the views. For instance Master Suites feature separate living and work areas, huge bedrooms wrapped with wall-to-wall windows, and giant luxurious bathrooms with whirlpool. Other rooms (in Classic, Grand Suite, and Junior Suite) blend golds, caramel-finished woods, and reds for a masculine aesthetic that’s more conservative and somewhat dated but nevertheless comfortable. Guests who prefer modern decor and don’t mind the additional expense should spring for a room with The Level distinction. These are dressed in cool grays or whites with hanging lanterns and chic retro modern touches. All rooms feature flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, irons and ironing boards, safes, music players, and minibars. Technically free in-room Wi-Fi is also available, although the connections aren't always reliable (though this is an issue throughout Havana). Marble bathrooms feature tubs, hairdryers, and a good selection of free toiletries.
A choice of restaurants and bars, free buffet breakfast, huge pool, and a fitness center
As expected for a massive Melia property, this hotel does a good job providing plenty of features at the quality international travelers come to expect. For example, there’s lots to eat and drink on-site. Restaurants comprise Plaza Habana (buffet), La Piazza (Italian), Mediterraneo (Mediterranean), and Snack Bar Aqua (poolside snacks). Bars include Casa del Habano (cigar bar) with evening entertainment, and the lobby features cocktail spots, Expresso Habana and Gran Anejo. The Level guests have access to meals, drinks, and coffee in Cobijo Real, which offers mini buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an intimate 20th-floor space.
The hotel's massive freshwater pool is the size of a small lake. It’s surrounded with plenty of deck chairs for one or two -- with shade and without, so there’s plenty of space to spread out. There is both a spa and fitness center, too, however they were closed during our stay. Melia Cohiba’s The Level program adds upgraded service and perks such as a dedicated concierge, elevators, a VIP bar lounge, and fancier rooms set on a specific block of floors. There’s an internet center in the lobby and currency exchange is available, although the line can get incredibly long. Wi-Fi is free, and supposedly its available in rooms and public spaces, but the connection is rather unreliable, and guest must obtain a card with a code in order to connect. The hotel provides free shuttle to Old Havana -- a nice bonus -- and there are always plenty of cabs at the ready.