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Hotel Encanto del Rijo, one of our favorite provincial hotels

By: cubaism Expert, Cuba Posted: 2010-04-10

 

This is one of our favorite provincial hotels. The lovely neo-classical building dating from 1818 sits on tiny Plazuela Honorato del Castillo and looks out directly toward the 17th-century Parroquial Mayor del Espíritu Santo church – a great setting. However, traffic noise echoing through the streets can be a problem for late sleepers.

A thoughtful restoration around the Millennium reinvigorated this former dilapidated mansion, which metamorphosed as a hotel in the Islazul chain in 2001. In 2007, it was elevated to the Cubanacan chain, for better or worse. You feel like you're stepping back in time as you pass through the tall nail-studded carriage doors to a lobby with wrought-iron chandeliers beneath a sturdy beamed ceiling. The a charming little bar has a small humidor that usually tempts us to buy a stogie and sink into the lobby's leather lounge chairs with mojito in hand. Breakfast is served in the delightful atrium courtyard with Mughal-style fountain. However, that's it as far as meals go. No worries, as directly across the street, the Mesón de la Plaza replicates a Spanish bodega and delivers excellent Iberian dishes (such as garbanzo with bason and sausage), plus a delicious baked chicken in orange sauce. We've always thought the inflatable plunge pool on the rooftop to be a disaster just waiting to happen. There have been reports of major spillage!

The 16 spacious guest rooms surround the courtyard on two levels, with upper rooms accessed by a mahogany staircase. Lofty beamed ceilings, soothing cream and light-blue color schemes, and modern bathrooms with lots of marble are among the highlights. You even get satellite TV and phones. Take an upper room at the front (numbers 5-8), which have balconies overlooking the plaza. All said, this is one of few provincial hotels in Cuba that should leave you smiling from beginning to end. Not least because it represents excellent value.

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