A collective started two years ago by the enterprising Italian expatriate Giuseppe Scrufari Hedges has taken Havana by storm. The HAPE Collective opens ultra-atmospheric pop-ups in under-the-radar locations — from secret rooftops and eclectic spaces in Chinatown to the moonlit magic of the Moorish-styled Jardines de la Tropical.
The Italian Andrea Gallina and his Cuban wife, Diana Sainz, created the tiny Paseo 206, which is so gorgeous it has been made a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. As with all grandiose houses in Vedado, this mansion tells a story: it was built in 1934 for a senator, then was lost in a poker game to a family friend of Sainz. It is decorated in sky blues and filled with Italian furniture. Updates include a rooftop spa suite with sea view s from a hot tub. The Italian Eclectico restaurant has dishes such as creole mozzarella and foie gras, and gelato fused with chocolate from the east of the island.
Tierra Arte Culinario is tucked into shipping containers inside Havana’s stop nightspot, the Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Its dishes meander from B Brazilian (moqueca shrimp stew) to Argentine steaks. Reserve early and you can not only skip the queues around the block at the Fabrica but enjoy the rooftop V IP bar, the best spot to sip a daiquiri, listening to late-night tunes under starry skies.
Yuniel Valderram a Martinez is king of the Cuban Surfing Association. He and his board-strapped white V W Beetle are well known in the tiny, but vibrant surfing com m unity, and he is the man to show learners the ropes. He can also take you kitesurfing — the best fun you can have on Las Playas del Este, the stretch of white sand that unspools east of Havana.
Sultry, raw, vulnerable, brazen, hilarious —all these words describe Daymé Arocena. With a voice like Aretha Franklin, she roams between Spanish, English, Yoruba and into scat, her funky, jazzy soul rooted in Cuban musical traditions. Although now signed to Gilles Peterson’ s Brownswood label and often overseas, you can catch her at the Havana Jazz Festival and, if you’re lucky, the Fabrica de Arte Cubano and smaller venues.
The Cuba Private Travel team has access to the very best in Cuban art, music, literature, dance, environment, history and architecture as well as Cuba’s most outstanding beaches and accommodation. By listening to you, the independent traveller, we are able to create tailor-made travel itineraries for your vacation that take you to the heart of Cuba’s culture, landscape and people. Cuba Private Travel’s bespoke itineraries are fully U.S. Treasury Department compliant and include access to personal guides, experts, interpreters and, of course, a 24-hour concierge.
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