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Historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba celebrates 80th Anniversary

An iconic central Havana five-star hotel which has provided Cuba holidays for travellers, film stars, artists and political leaders from all over the globe celebrated its 80th birthday on Thursday 30th December.

Historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba celebrates 80th Anniversary

Hotel Nacional de Cuba celebrated its 80th birthday on Thursday 30th December after years of providing Cuba holidays for Hollywood stars, political leaders, and mafia mobsters.

The iconic central Havana property is one of the oldest of Cuba hotels and has seen the likes of Winston Churchill, Fred Astaire, Errol Flynn, Ernest Hemingway, Rita Hayworth, Mickey Mantle and Jean-Paul Sartre pass through its doors over the past eight decades.

The five-star property stands on a hill in central Havana city, just metres from the sparkling Caribbean Sea overlooking Havana Harbour, the seawall and the bustling Cuba capital city.

The history of the past 80 years has left its mark on the stone and concrete exterior of the hotel building including bullets shots from the 1933 rebellion, and in 1962 the property served as a backdrop during the Cuba Missile Crisis after Cuban soldiers dug tunnels under the hotel's lawns and installed three Soviet anti-aircraft guns.

In 1930 Hotel Nacional first opened as a getaway for Mafia leaders and Hollywood stars seeking luxury Cuba holidays. It soon became a training centre for illiterate peasant women after the 1959 Fidel Castro revolution.

The hotel was built and designed by U.S firms and the development and construction took 14 months and the hard labour of 8,000 workers to complete the building which comprises Baroque, Spanish Colonial and Latin American architectural styles.

General Manager of Hotel Nacional, Antonio Martinez Rodriguez, said: "The strength of the hotel lies in its history, in everything it's lived through and remained standing. Its fissures are like wrinkles on the face of an old and wise person who's seen it all."

The hotel continues to be a popular attraction for Hollywood stars such as Steven Spielberg, Javier Bardem, Sean Penn and model Kate Moss. These days the hotel is frequented by 86,000 tourists enjoying Havana holidays each year, and with reasonable hotel rates, the majority of visitors are from Europe and Americans who choose to defy the ongoing decades-long U.S Cuba travel embargo.

A guest from Seville in Spain, who recently stayed at the historic hotel, Pepa Gutierrez Ortega, said: "It's as if we shared a bit of history with the people who were here before. All you have to do is look around and you realize that being here is worth it."

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