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Once home to a wealthy Cuban family, later the head office of an influential local newspaper (which, in the late 19th century, was the stage of a violent attack by a pro-Spanish mob), the Hotel Plaza will soon celebrate 100 years of operations and, like other properties in Old Havana, it has no shortage of stories to tell. Albert Einstein once stayed and dined at a sumptuous banquet here, and the long guest list includes luminaries such as Isidora Duncan and Babe Ruth (whose former accommodations, suite 216, are today a kind of museum of nostalgia for baseball lovers, complete with El Bambino?s bat and ball). Such details are only part of the Plaza?s historic charm, which immediately strikes the eye in the lobby. Arriving guests are greeted by an original and colorful tile floor, beneath a beautifully-restored bas-relief ceiling supported by white columns. This impressive layout surrounds a large, pleasant lobby bar, where light filters down from stained-glass skylights to a central fountain and planters. Indeed, the décor here makes such a powerful first impression that the upper level halls, with modern tiling, are a slight disappointment. A block away from Prado (a broad, pleasantly shaded and historic promenade in Old Havana), the Plaza is also privileged in terms of location and makes for a splendid departure point for explorations of this part of town. The Capitolio and Gran Teatro are virtually across the street and Obispo (a few blocks away) takes you to very heart of the city?s colonial centre. Rooms at the Plaza are spacious and sober and a number of them are graced by a private balcony. If you?re looking for a view, however, the rooftop Bar Solarium is the place to go at this hotel, especially if you would like a privileged look at the impressive Bacardi Building. A more intimate setting is found at the 2nd floor inner patio, ideal for savoring an afternoon tea. With an elegant restaurant and a more economic, less formal eateries, the Plaza also offers moderately good options for eating in. Other attractive features include an executive meeting room (located on the 5th floor), with capacity for 80 people and technical facilities such as a video projector, a money exchange locale, a professional torcedor rolling Cuban cigars on order next to the lobby bar, and dance lessons offered daily to guests free of charge. A charmingly old hotel, the Plaza will doubtless please those who seek history-rich properties and more practical types in search of a comfortable, well-located establishment.
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