San Antonio – From Habana…to Havana…

By pure coincidence, on the same day that I bumped into the amazing Cuban restaurant, Habana, in Austin, I was heading to my next hotel, which I had booked months ago, and which was located an hour and fifteen minutes away in San Antonio…the Cuban-themed, Hotel Havana, in downtown.  What is going on here???  Ay, yay, yay!

For most of this adventure, I had booked Hampton Inns and Holiday Inn Express hotels.  The exceptions were, The Italian Place B&B and the Double U Barr guest ranch in the Hill Country.  During the summer, I had also been looking for an affordable boutique hotel in San Antonio, where I planned to spend three nights.

I stumbled onto the Hotel Havana, which looked cool and was not expensive (for the “Studio Room”, that I was interested in), so that’s what I settled on.  Unfortunately, it was only available for my first two nights in San Antonio, so I was back in a Hampton Inn for my third night.

There are much better photos of the exterior and the rooms on the hotel’s website, but here are a few quick snapshots that I took.

The Hotel Havana turned out to be, again, the kind of place where when you stepped through the door, you were transported to another time…and in this case…another country.  According to the history section on the hotel’s website, the building was opened in 1914 under the current name, by a local grocer, to serve as temporary residences for visiting clients.

I fell in love with the hotel’s vibe, coziness and eccentricities.  For example, my room was small.  My bathroom was even smaller.  They were in the sloped eves of the roof, so there were angles.  But, it all somehow worked together to create a very cozy feel.  I loved it and felt very much at home.

Here’s a cellphone panoramic shot of my room.  It’s not sharp, but it will give you some idea.  There’s a better example on the hotel website.

There was Latin…maybe Cuban…music…wafting softly through the hallways at all times…but, it never seemed to enter my room.  Old, worn Oriental rugs decorated the dark-stained wooden floors.  Comfortable and comforting, wide wooden staircases with mid-floor landings and heavy, dark-stained wooden railings in the middle of each floor, carried you casually from floor to floor…or you could take the elevator.

The common room on the main floor had a single, long, narrow, wooden table surrounded by  wooden chairs, that made a comfortable retreat for me to set up my laptop and work on catching up on Hill Country blog entries…since my room had no desk…or space for one.

In fact, everything about the Hotel Havana coaxed you to take your time…to move about just a little bit slower.

Really, about the only reminder that you were in downtown San Antonio, and not out in the Cuban countryside somewhere, was the very modern and artistically lit up high-rise that you noticed when you stepped out the side door to the hotel’s parking lot at night.

Next to…and I think, attached to…the Havana, is the Ocho restaurant.

I enjoyed a very casual breakfast there, one of the two mornings.  And Ocho happens to sit directly on a quiet stretch of the Riverwalk, which makes for a great location.

Honestly?  At the time, I was not going to try to write about the Havana, because I thought it would sound trivial or uninteresting to talk about.  And maybe it is.  I really don’t know.  It’s just kind of difficult to convey the sort of simple coziness of it…especially juxtaposed with downtown San Antonio.  But, I guess I thought I’d give it a shot.

I know this much, though.  If I’m ever in San Antonio again…I know where I’ll be staying.

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