Cuba is not a place you visit because you’re looking for a great luxury hotel. Instead you make the best of the hotel situation that you can.
Since this blog is ultimately about miles & points, I decide to book the first & (so far) only U.S. hotel in Cuba that you can redeem points at. That would be the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, which was formerly the Hotel Quinta Avenida.
We were staying for two nights before New Year’s, so the price was high. We paid $335 per night including taxes and fees, and the rate was pre-paid. That’s because American credit cards aren’t accepted in Cuba, so Starwood is able to charge you for the stay in advance, and then you just have to pay for incidentals when you depart.
You can also redeem points at this hotel, at the rate of 25,000 Starpoints per night. That’s a lot of Starpoints for a Four Points by Sheraton property! Given that I value Starpoints at 2.2 cent each, paying cash seemed like the better value.
While the stay was expensive, Havana’s two best hotels go for a lot more ($700+ per night sometimes), and they’re not even five star by American standards.
Let me once again say that I didn’t book the Four Points because I thought it was necessarily the best option, but rather because this site’s focus is miles & points, and this hotel is pretty significant as far as U.S. points hotels in Cuba go. Most people don’t even recommend staying in hotels when visiting Cuba, but rather staying in someone’s home (a casa paticular), which would be the equivalent of a bed & breakfast.
The drive from the airport to our hotel ended up taking about an hour. That’s because on arrival in Havana the taxi drivers typically make you split a ride, and the couple we split a ride with was staying in Old Havana. So it was about 40 minutes to where they were staying, and then another 20 minutes to our hotel.
The Four Points is a pretty big hotel, and from the outside looks like it could be a three star resort in Orlando.
The bones of the hotel were fine, though it’s pretty clear there’s some TLC missing — the awning was dirty, the fountain out front had nothing in it, and the light for the Four Points by Sheraton sign wasn’t even fully lit anymore, even though the hotel has just been under Starwood management for a few months.
The hotel’s website makes the hotel look horrible, so I was quite pleasantly surprised when I walked into the lobby. While it wasn’t my style preference, it was in good condition, had a Christmas tree in the middle of it, etc.
The reception desk was located to the left, and once there, we were helped pretty quickly.
The associate thanked me for my loyalty to SPG, and handed us both forms we had to fill out stating our reason for visiting Cuba.
We also had to fill in some basic personal details on a separate sheet.
Within a couple of minutes she started to make some phone calls in Spanish and then called over someone else. I asked if everything was okay, and she said “we just need to change your rooms, because you have a room with just one bed.”
“Oh, that’s fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, we’ll make it work.”
During this whole conversation I noticed a sign next to reception with the wifi prices — holy cow! For reference, one CUC is worth more than one USD, so a 24 hour wifi ticket costs 110CUC, which is ~130USD. Now, it’s worth noting that the price isn’t for continuous use, but rather you can log on and off. So a 24 hour pass would last a very long time.
The good news is that the associate handed us pieces of paper with complimentary wifi, as that’s a standard benefit when booking through SPG. On the surface that’s a great feature, though the wifi ended up being virtually unusable, so…
Also, check out the posted rack rates at this hotel — oy!
Soon enough we had a key to our room, located on the fifth floor. The hotel has a pretty cool atrium of sorts right next to the elevators.
Once on the fifth floor we turned right, and then our room was the last room on the right.
The second we opened the door we were hit with a strong urine odor. It was noticeable and unpleasant at first, but we got used to it. At first we were going to go to the front desk and ask for a new room, but then figured this might be a common issue, so we just got used to it instead.
The room itself was significantly nicer than I was expecting. The hotel’s website makes the rooms look horrible (a picture from the hotel’s website is below), but instead we found that they were perfectly fine.
The room had a very comfortable Sheraton brand standard bed, which was the highlight of the room. The mattress and sheets were exactly the same you’d find at any U.S. Sheraton property, so we managed to sleep well.
At the foot of the bed was an iron bench-looking-thing-of-sorts, which I assume was intended for luggage.
Across from the bed was the desk with a chair, which is also where the TV and mini-fridge were located.
The mini-fridge said “No Incluido” on it, but had nothing in it…
Then in the far corner of the room was a sitting area with two chairs and a coffee machine.
The bathroom was back near the entrance. The area with the sink wasn’t in any way partitioned off from the rest of the room.
I appreciated that they had two massive bottles of complimentary water there.
Then to the left was a room with a toilet, tub, and walk-in shower.
Everything was reasonably clean, and toiletries were in dispensers, as is the norm at Four Points properties.
Across from the bathroom was a closet, which is also where the safe was located. I don’t often use hotel safes, but this was one of those instances where I did.
I had a huge smile on my face when I saw a welcome amenity from my SPG Ambassador. I’m not talking about the wine so much, but rather the cute note he wrote. It’s always nice to feel like you’re home, no matter where in the world you are.
The room also had a pretty big balcony. However, the door between the room and the balcony couldn’t be locked, but rather just slid closed. We figured we were on a high enough floor so it didn’t really present a safety issue. We were also out of our room for almost the entire day, so didn’t want to have to wait on maintenance staff, etc.
The balcony had a beautiful view of the surrounding area (though the hotel is a bit removed from Old Havana, so it’s not the view you may expect).
Overall I thought the room was perfectly fine. It wasn’t luxurious, had a mild odor, and the balcony door wouldn’t lock, but at least the bed was very comfortable, the bathroom clean, etc.
One issue with the room was that the wifi network didn’t seem to extend to our room, probably because it was at the end of the hall. So at first I spent a fair amount of time sitting in the chairs in the hallway, where the signal did extend to. However, the wifi at this hotel is virtually unusable, so I just gave up after the first morning.
In terms of the hotel’s other features, there’s a cigar bar and store on the lobby level. My dad requested some Cuban cigars so it was my quest to find some for him. However, they were significantly more expensive here than at a “legitimate” cigar & tobacco shop (so you don’t want to buy cigars at hotels, but also don’t want to buy them off the street).
Also on the lobby level was a lobby bar, where you could get a coffee in the morning or drinks in the evening.
As I said above, we didn’t really spend much time at the hotel other than to sleep, but the hotel seemed to have an outdoor pool bar, at least in theory.
There was also a nice pool, which looked clean and in fairly good condition.
All rates at this hotel include breakfast, so the first morning we had breakfast at Olivo Restaurante, which serves breakfast.
The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating includes individual tables, while the indoor seating has communal tables.
I’ll let the pictures of the buffet speak for themselves.
In terms of other considerations, the hotel really isn’t conveniently located if you’re looking to visit Old Havana (which is where most people want to be). Instead it’s in a more residential area, which is a good 15 minute taxi drive from the center of town. Most taxis will try to charge you $15-20 for the ride (though you can easily negotiate it down to ~$10, depending on the type of car). There’s very little within walking distance of the hotel, so you’ll have to take a car no matter where you want to go.
Four Points Havana bottom line
Havana has a shortage of hotel rooms at the moment (and just about everything tourists are looking for, for that matter), so tourist prices are getting unreasonable.
It was interesting to see Cuba’s first U.S. points hotel. The property was clean, the staff were well intentioned, etc. At the same time, the hotel doesn’t have a great location, and most people seem to recommend staying at a bed & breakfast in Havana, which can be done for a tiny fraction of the cost of a hotel, and give you a more authentic experience. However, that’s not going to be for everyone.
So my biggest issue with the Four Points is its location. It’s a trek from Old Havana, so the cost (both in terms of time and money) of being outside of the ideal area really adds up.