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Havana Cabana: Cuban Nostalgia & Comfort Food in Key West


What used to be the Inn at Key West is now Havana Cabana, a Hemingway-inspired Cuban-themed resort on Roosevelt Ave. Opened in April, the resort is about 10 minutes removed (by car, Vespa or free shuttle service) from the Historic Old Town strip, making it the perfect quiet place to relax and unwind away from the usual ready-to-party touristy Key West crowds.

I spent a couple nights there just last week and was tickled by the small details—Cuban salsa music drifting through the lobby, 1957 Chevys parked outside, green iguanas coexisting with guests by Key West’s largest pool and hammocks swaying under coconut palms. My stay was pretty dreamy.

The 106-room hotel has a small gym for those who refuse to fall off the fitness boat—even while on vacation.

It also has its own permanent Cuban food truck (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner) as well as Mojitos pool bar (open 11am to 11pm daily), that serves various creative rum cocktails and—you guessed it—classic mojitos. I especially enjoyed the pineapple-ginger mojito.

Dig into some garlic-mojo mariquitas (plantain chips), empanadas or ham croquettes. Juicy Cuban sandwiches, ceviche and tacos are on the menu, too. Don’t forget to save room for dessert—did somebody say flan? Enjoy a sweet cafe con leche (Cuban espresso with milk and sugar) to wash it all down.

If it’s a little more adventure you’re looking for, the concierge at Havana Cabana is always ready to help with organized jet ski tours, snorkeling excursions, glass bottom boat rides, sunset dinner cruises and more. Trolley and train tours of Key West are also an option.

Keep in mind that everything in the Keys feels a little slower—from check-in to poolside service. But, if you accidentally spill your drink (which I did), the friendly bartenders won’t hesitate to make you a new one.

Hanging by the pool all day was all right by me—just don’t forget to re-apply that sunblock or to hydrate. Key West gets hot.

There’s also the beauty of retreating to your pool-view patio room when you need a little break and some AC. You can still see and hear the action, but hide away from the scorching sun while recharging with a nap or a cold shower.

One of the coolest things about Havana Cabana (which I’ve yet to experience, but hope to do soon) is that the hotel has teamed up with a local tour company to offer day trips to actual Havana. At the (not so cheap) price of $995 per person, this 12-hour round trip includes airfare, a tour of Hemingway’s homes, a walking tour of Old Town Havana, lunch, cocktails and a (required) visa. Be sure to bring your passport and book this trip at least 48 hours in advance. Day trips take place every Monday and Friday.

Havana Cabana is waiving resort fees through September and summer rates start at $121 per night. What are you waiting for?


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