La Rosa de Ortega was everything I wanted from my Cuba accommodation.
On the outside, a concrete facade partially covered by bright pink bougainvillea. On the inside, exposed brick, arched doorways, and antique accents that make you feel as if time has stood still for almost a century. Perfectly appointed. Perfectly maintained. It was surreal.
I’m a true believer in TripAdvisor but I still take every rating with a grain of salt. Even though La Rosa de Ortega had 5 stars with over 400 reviews, and the website was pretty impressive, I was still keeping an open mind about exactly how ‘ideal’ and ‘immaculate’ and ‘authentic’ this place could be.
Now, having spent six days and five nights there, I can happily report that this casa particular exceeded all expectations.
Rooms & Rates
Because of our last-minute reservations we ended up staying in two different rooms – the standard and the superior. This was perfect because the styles were so different we were able to experience some variety in their offerings. The standard room was all vintage charm with antique wooden furnishings and a large iron framed bed. The only modern touches were in the bathroom, which suited me just fine. On the other hand, the superior room was very contemporary with a luxurious canopy bed, minimalistic wooden accents and sleek fixtures throughout.
I’ve paid discounted rates at 3 and 4 star hotels before but this is the first time I felt like I got a 5 star experience at a truly bargain price. The rates are out-of-this-world-cannot-be-
The following rates were as of July 2016:
60.00 CUC the standard room each night (double bed)
80.00 CUC the extra superior room each night (king bed)
100.00 CUC the bungalow suite x night
150.00 CUC the master suite each night
150.00 CUC the family suite each night (independent apartment with living room, and 2 bedrooms)
200.00 CUC the penthouse suite each night (2 level room with private terrace)
La Rosa de Ortega prepares breakfast for their guests every morning, it’s up to you if you decide to partake. For only $5 CUC you’re served a feast fit for a queen (or King). A fresh fruit platter or fruit cocktail; a variety of breads (fresh and toasted) with eggs prepared as you like them, cheese and some type of meat, a sweet treat like biscuits or pie with a side of marmalade, coffee or tea (whichever you like) and a pitcher of fresh juice. You’ll never be able to eat it all but you’ll wish you could. Lunch is available only if you order it in the morning. Because we spent our days out exploring I never tried it, but if it’s anything like their breakfast spread, it’s absolutely delicious.
The amenities include a pool that’s pretty much deep the entire way except for the steps and a narrow ledge on one end i.e. kids need floaties. The gym is small and naturally I didn’t use it but it had sufficient, basic equipment to keep a few guests occupied. The spa is a small, minimalistic annex designed for serenity and if I had more time I’d have definitely got a
massage. The dining room is open air, rustic, and cozy, with wooden furnishings and a brick oven giving it an almost cabin-like feel. There’s a small bar beside the dining room that serves drinks well into the night but it’s never crowded or rowdy, just an additional convenience for guests.
They say the devil is in the details and La Rosa de Ortega is all about the details. Every common room on the ground floor is chocked full of items, big and small, that take you back to in time. Antique candlestick telephones and wooden radios. Vintage cameras and a dinosaur of an old-school cash register. Worn rocking chairs, fine china sets, even the interior brick walls and arched doorways and windows remind you that in many ways Cuba is a country where time has almost stood still.
This casa particular is serviced by the most attentive, helpful, enthusiastic and (at the risk of making them sound like anything less than the professionals they are) sweetest team I’ve ever encountered. From the moment we arrived we were warmly welcomed with a refreshing glass of lemonade and an informative orientation session. We even received a map that included directions for taxi drivers who aren’t familiar with the B&B’s location.
They called taxis every time we needed one and spoke to the drivers if special instructions were required. They directed us when it came time to plan our day trip to Viñales (something you should absolutely do if you have time when you’re in Cuba). And when we had an impossibly early departure time for said trip – 6:30 a.m., an hour before the kitchen opened – they packed us up with hero ham and cheese sandwiches, juice boxes and bottled water. Always full of smiles and ready to help, they made returning to the house a pleasant experience every single day.
Of course there are hundreds of accommodation options in Havana that cater to different budgets and tastes but I highly recommend La Rosa de Ortega if you’re looking for something cozy, clean, cost-effective and absolutely Cuban.