Cuba is one of the most unique countries in the Caribbean, an island brimming with vibrancy, soul inspiring music, and villages full of Cubans who thrive off a culture of social interaction and a characteristic of openness. I recently went on the most incredible art and culture tour where I visited both Havana and Vinales with a small group of women lead by my friend Rachel Melvald, Founder of Psychitecture. My time in Cuba was happy. Home to incredible history, architecture, culture, art and design, this trip was a beautiful experience. Most of the time we had no internet which made it so much easier to live in the moment. We drove around in vintage convertibles, learned to Salsa dance, sang, went to the ballet, museums, artist studios, Hemingway House, met new friends, rode horses, tried cuban cigars and above all I got to share this with my sister (and fab contemporary artist) Randi Russo.
Below are the highlights of where to stay, dine, explore and what to pack for Cuba or your next warm weather trip. We had a packed itinerary and got a lot in during our four day stay.
We stayed at The Hotel La Reserva, a boutique hotel intimately related to the neighborhood with a spirit that reflected Cuban soul. Characterized by Spanish style, both through the tile floors and big windows that open to the patio this balance between old restored house with amenities of a modern hotel were ideal. The in-house Art Gallery offered selected works of contemporary Cuban artists. Another fabulous boutique hotel to check out is Paseo 206 (we had dinner there and a tour of the property).
Cuban cuisine is a blend of Spanish, African and Caribbean influences. This cultural diversity in cooking results a noteworthy combination of spices and flavor. One of the nights, we ate at La Guarida a magical fine dining space offering family history and ambience. Contrasting this with oceanside served lunch of fresh lobster at Miya Cayito the following day with pre-ballet private dining experience at Paseo 206 later that night. Paseo 206 is a ‘romantic jewel nestled among the tree-lined streets’ in the heart of Havana. The Executive Chef, Vincenzo Frassanito at Eclectico, offers a distinctive interpretation of the Italian cuisine, emphasizing artisanal ingredients, working with local farmers and small producers.