Chapter 13

Habana Hilton

Strikingly modern, sited at the crest of La Rampa (23rd St.) the Habana Hilton stands as vivid testimony to the brief moment when dictator Fulgencio Batista’s vision of the city as Latin America’s premier tourist destination was fulfilled. Renamed the Habana Libre (Free Habana) after the revolution, the hotel served as Castro’s provisional headquarters when he took Havana in January 1959. Designed by the Los Angeles-based firm of Welton Becket & Associates under the direction of architect Richard Dorman and interior designer James McQuaid, the hotel captured the tropical atmosphere of Cuba and the spirit of “old and new Havana.” Still containing the original Trader Vic’s restaurant with its signature Polynesian décor, the Habana Hilton remains a monumental achievement in the 21st century.

See "Then & Now" comparison photos of Trader Vic's Chinese Ovens(1957 and 2007).

Habana Hilton