2017's Hottest Travel Destination: Cuba
Sun-baked, pastel coloured buildings stand as the backdrop that makes Cuba one of the most magical and mystifying travel destinations that continues to grow in popularity for 2017. Whether heading to Havana or to Santiago in the South, time stands still in the country's cities that still resemble 50s' glamour, now shabby and enchanting. Accompanied by white sand beaches, Cuba needs to be on your bucket list for this year.
Sprawling with energy and culture, Cuba will keep you entertained until the very end with an offering of wonderful live music, picturesque beaches, a lively party scene and a dose of history down every street. With the likes of Rihanna, The Kardashians, Madonna and Katy Perry all escaping for a relaxing break for their busy lives here, it's no wonder that Cuba has become such a popular holiday destination.
Not only a hit with celebrities, Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld describes Cuba as "here, you can really wear jewellery. Here, you can smile whenever you want. It is adorable," leading to Chanel's Cruise Runway show held at the heart of Old Havana. Inspired, the likes of Valentino, Proenza Schouler and Stella McCartney have all released collections inspired by República de Cuba, with Marie Claire, W, Porter and Vanity Fair all featuring Cuba as a backdrop for editorials.
While in Cuba, take the opportunity to sample what it is best know for with Cadallic Car Tours, a visit to the International Habano Cigar Festival or the Museum of Rum. For a real local experience, try stopping for a bite to eat at a paladares, a private restaurant ran in a local's own home. Due to increasing popularity, we recommend booking ahead for flights and hotel for this Caribbean getaway, especially for December's International Havana Jazz Festival or the island's most famous event, the Santiago de Cuba Carnival in late July.
WHERE TO STAY IN CUBA
We've picked our top three hotels to help you place your luxury stay:
Hotel Nacional de Cuba- Having hosted Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, this 1930s building has seen better days, but offers all the time warped charm that Cuba is known for.
Hotel NH Capri La Habana- This plush and modern hotel is situated in the centre of town, offering an idea location to see the sights and then be able to fall back into bed after a long day! Normally catering for business travellers, facilities include a rooftop pool and spa.
Hotel Plaza- On the corner at Parque Central, this grand four-star hotel has been open since 1909. The neoclassical façade is charming, while the interiors are comfortable with a courtyard garden for morning coffee.
WHERE TO EAT IN CUBA
Although paladares give you the real experience of Cuban cooking, we've picked our top restaurants for a easier bite to eat:
La Guarida- Calle Concordia 418, between Gervasio and Escobar, Centro Habana, Havana (00 53 7866 9047; www.laguarida.com). Featuring in the award-winning Cuban film Fresca y Chocolate, this family-run restaurant is found in a 19th-century residential neighbourhood apartment building. Although you may be convinced you are going to the wrong place, once there you'll find an atmospheric room filled with beautiful dishes and pictures of Castro.
La Cocina De Lilliam- Calle 48 1311, between 13 and 15, Playa, Havana (00 53 7 209 6514). A gorgeous garden restaurant bursting with tropical plants. The intercom entry system creates a feeling of exclusivity similar to a private club.
La Torre- Edificio FOCSA, Calle 17, on the corner with M, Vedado, Havana (00 53 7 838 3088). This 36th-floor restaurant offers amazing views for an unforgettable dining experience. It may be hard to concentrate, but try the seafood and steak menu for some great food.