Karl Lagerfeld is known for his over-the-top fashion shows set in exotic locations. Chanel has circled the globe, from Salzburg to Seoul, Dallas, and Dubai, to present its twice-yearly pre-collections, and this spring, the fashion house will descend the most-talked-about island nation of the year: Cuba.
On May 3rd, Chanel will show its Resort 2017 collection in Havana. Invitations to top editors and influencers in the fashion industry are out. But travel details are still up in the air. Chanel has a reputation of being able to pull anything off, but a luxury event of epic proportions in a communist country with still-strict visa, commerce, and trade laws?
And where are Chanel show attendees going to stay? There are no five-star hotels in Havana. Hotel Nacional de Cuba is the nicest option. In the words of a Greenwich socialite (who recently flew on a private plane with 80 couples to Cuba for a friend’s wedding-anniversary extravaganza and downloaded me on the trip over lunch at Bergdorfs) “you should bring your own bed sheets.” (And in case you’re curious, the epic logistics of the large celebration she attended was organized by Cuba Educational Travel, an outfit which I predict will have its hands in the Chanel-show planning since they were also responsible for facilitating last month’s Rolling Stones concert in Havana.)
Because of the dearth of hotels, private homes, parked yachts or day trips from Miami (it’s only a 45 minute flight!) are all likely options for accommodation.
The historic homes you can rent via Airbnb in Havana are a dream for architecture lovers (and a night in most costs not much more than a tube of Chanel lipstick). From classic colonial to graphic Cubist, we can see Chanel show-goers booking one of these:
A room in this family-owned mansion-turned-B&B starts at around $60, approximately RM233.90 a night. From the authentic tile to the handmade furniture, everywhere you look offers something beautiful. Plus it has a pool and vegetable and orchid gardens. We hear that during busy times, like the Cigar Festival, it’s a favorite among Swiss bankers, Saudi princes, and hoteliers, so book early.
#2. Casa Densil
My friend, Marie Claire web editor Lauren Valenti, stayed in this colonial apartment in Havana last year. “Nestled in a residential area of Old Havana, just a few blocks away from the Malecón waterfront, it stood out on the street from the outside,” she writes (more on her Havana trip here). “But was even more spectacular on the inside with high ceilings, polished molding, crystal chandeliers, and vintage furniture.” You can book it here.
Hotel Nacional might not be the best place to stay in Cuba but the bars there serving their signature “Mafia” cocktails are a fun scene. This 1920s mansion near the sea wall puts you in walking distance of the hotel for cocktail hour.
#4. Casa Fiesta
Built in 1923, this four-story home has stood the test of time and is a true colonial complete with columns and two terraces. There’s even a bar lining an entire wall in the living room (did someone say Cuba Libre?) and the homeowners are open to renting the property out for events.