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Hotel Kurhotel Escambray

Run by Cuba's Gaviota hotel chain, this monstrosity is totally at odds with its surrounds. The forested mountain setting at 800 meters elevation, deep in the Sierra Escambray, is lovely. And therein lies the problem: this great concrete hulk rising seven-stories above the treetops is a carbuncle on the landscape. To call this Soviet-scale ziggurat austere is an understatement. Although it looks Stalinist, it originated in 1936 as a sanatorium. In the 1970s it was converted to serve as a health tourism facility – the "Cure-hotel" – a function it still serves, while also accepting independent travelers.

A stay here is quite surreal. Start with the massive stone staircase. And the tiny (and dysfunctional) elevators. And the guests walking around in identical track suits. And the fact that the hotel even has its own TV station. Still, there are pleasant moments. The restaurant is modestly elegant, although the menu (no surprises here!) is limited to criolla staples. The heated Olympic-size indoor pool is a treat for serious swimmers. You can get physical in the gym and squash courts, then sooth your muscles in the spa.

The 210 air conditioned rooms are purely functional in style, with rattan furnishings. Still, bathrooms have been refitted with modern accouterments, and every room has satellite TV, phone, and mini-fridge. If you're in need of some physical reparation, this place could well be for you. If not, it still makes a good base for mountain hikes and horseback rides offered through Gaviotatours, which has its headquarters on site.

Facilities

  • Air conditioning
  • Bar
  • Conference halls & rooms
  • Ecological excursions programme
  • Gallery
  • Laundry & Ironing Service
  • Massage
  • Medical services
  • Nightclub / disco
  • Parking
  • Reception staff speak Spanish, English, French, German, Italian
  • Restaurant
  • Safety - front desk safe deposit box
  • Safety - private off street parking
  • Squash court
  • Swimming pool
  • Taxis desk
  • Telephone - National & international calls
  • Tours & tourist information desk
  • TV room/bar (international channels/videos)

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