All Images Credit A S Boutique Residence Havana
Cuba and Havana in particular, are not a destination for everyone. For those looking for a pristine tropical holiday a la Turks and Caicos, Barbados, or St. Barths you’ll not find that here. However, it is exactly the destination that a certain traveler is after. For the culture vulture looking for a destination rich in culture, warm and genuine people, and authentic experiences, it doesn’t get much better than Havana. In the center of the Historic district and close to the best that the city has to offer is an ideal hideaway to take in all the riches of the magical city, the A/S Boutique Residence Havana.
The A/S Boutique Residence Havana offers a cross-section of the richness of Cuba’s history with the haute design and modern amenities of a refined urban retreat. It is a manifestation of the vision of its owners, André Visser and Sandy Solano Diaz. After a career in the fashion industry, Holland bred André brought his flair for design and European elan to the creation of the residence. You’ll see evidence of this throughout the restored mansion from the soothing color palate, and elegant interior design, to the fine furnishing, and exquisite art pieces.
The residence was completely renovated between 2018 and 2020. The impressive façade has been flawlessly restored to its original state while other elements of the original design and structure have been preserved. Today you’ll see the century-old colonial architecture while indoors you’ll admire the European touches of designer furnishings and artwork. Along with his partner Sandy, a Cuban-born former dancer and musician, the couple has created a refined bolthole in the city close enough to enjoy all this frantic city has to offer, and that then allows guests to retreat to a laid-back haven of peace and calm.
Havana’s Old Town is a city where the past is in evidence everywhere. You’ll see once-regal buildings and mansions that are now a shell of their former selves, fallen into a state of disrepair where you may see trees literally growing out to the buildings eroding surfaces. Down such a street is a site somewhat at odds with its surrounding. The exterior of the townhouse has been meticulously restored to its former glory while inside is a walk into a grand home with a level of taste that is beyond reproach.
The A/S Boutique Residence Havana is an exclusive enclave within a stone’s throw of the touristy walking streets of La Habana Vieja, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and its most popular attractions such as Plaza Vieja, the capitol, art museums, and the Great Theatre of Havana. This is the authentic Havana, unfiltered where you’ll see the grit of the city amongst its raw beauty. The hotel is located in the San Isidro neighborhood which is a lively and vibrant area with very little car traffic although you will see vintage cars and bicycle taxis dashing about. It is close to tourist hotspots, art galleries, and a clutch of exceptional restaurants. You’ll quickly come to love the vibe of the area and especially the people, who could not be more warm and friendly. It is also quite safe as well.
The hotel is exactly what most would want in a stay in Havana. From the central location to the style and décor, to comfort amenities and service. The mansion offers the intimacy of a home with the expected amenities and creature comforts of a fine hotel.
From the outside, the residence its majestic exteriors and colonial façade are exemplary of the architecture of Havana from hundreds of years ago with artistic flourishes and design elements that go well beyond the functional.
The boutique hotel offers a popular café as well as a gallery and event space. On the second floor are the accommodations while the third floor offers an expansive terrace, ideal for sunbathing or sunset cocktails while overlooking the city.
While the design of the exterior is baroque and ornate, the interior contrasts with a sleek and minimalist design with 16-foot ceilings, open spaces with a neutral color palette, original Cuban tiles, and muddled light filtering through the wooden louvered doors. Throughout are contemporary touches such as industrial lighting, antique Cuban tiled floors, rustic brick walls, and hand-blown Venetian-glass vases as accent pieces. What impresses most are the large abstract paintings that are sure to capture the admiration of guests. The artist is none other than Andre the property owner who is a highly regarded artist in his own right with works exhibited in Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Havana.
The residence is home to only seven accommodations providing a sense of exclusivity and homeliness. Each is generous in size with lofty ceilings, custom paintings, contemporary furnishings, uber-comfortable beds, and walk-in showers. The design features a clean-lined aesthetic constructed of industrial steel, polished concrete and glass, and mood lighting.
Four of the accommodations offer loft designs with a downstairs living space and mezzanine beds situated in the upstairs loft. There are two luxury suites. which feature chic décor, sitting areas with designer furniture, and the artwork of the talented owner. The Royal Suite features a spacious separate living room with European-designed furniture and industrial lighting. Beyond the louvered doors is the Juliette balcony where guests can step outside for fresh air and views of the street life below. The Art Suite is located on the first floor with high ceilings adorned with riveting artwork, and original tiles, and features a deep soaking Roman bath as well as a private indoor garden patio.
The second floor of the residence is reserved for guests only and offers a communal salon with an outdoor balcony, patterned tiles of the original building, detailed woodwork and pillars as well as a long table ideal for leafing through the extensive collection of coffee table art and design books.
The residence is a neighborhood gathering place and offers an artisanal coffee shop on the first floor offering barista-style coffee as well as an organic breakfast to start the day. Appropriately named HAV_Coffee & Art, the trendy spot is open to the public as well who come for chats over coffee, or to admire the art gallery featuring artwork by Visser as well as exhibits by local artists.
A/S Boutique Residence Havana has thought of it all to provide an authentic taste of Havana and the ideal holiday experience. One can’t really call it service as it is so much more than that. Andre, Sandy, and the staff go beyond to make sure that guests get the most out of their Havana vacation from recommending the best restaurants and bars to arranging all types of experiences based on the guest’s desires. They are as much a host, concierge, and travel planner but there’s another element there as well. The feeling is that you are visiting a friend in another country that is there to tell you what to do and where to go to make the best of your stay. Beyond that, they’ll even arrange private salsa or yoga classes as well.
For the rest of the world, Cuba is an irresistible destination with so much to offer. Up until recently, the country was forbidden fruit for Americans other than for a few exceptions. Today, Americans can freely and legally travel to Cuba under what’s referred to as the support for the Cuban people ruling. It means that Americans cannot spend in places such as hotels that are owned by the government. These are typically large hotels. Small privately owned hotels such as the A/S Boutique Residence Havana make travel to Cuba perfectly legal allowing Americans to now enjoy all the riches of this tantalizing destination.
Traveling to Cuba offers an experience of a lifetime. There’s something magical about this country born out of its tropical climate and tumultuous history. A stay at the A/S Boutique Residence Havana allows guests to explore the authentic riches of Havava and then retreat to a haven of calm and creature comforts.