Havana’s Top Rooftop Hangouts
There is no better way to spend a beautiful Havana night than enjoying one of the city’s hip rooftop hangouts. An opening to the private sector in recent years has led to a diversity of options and many of the most stunning spots provide great views and an opportunity to enjoy fresh sea breezes. Here are some of our favorites.
La Guarida, Cuba’s most famous and successful paladar, has become a must visit for all travelers. Opened in the 90s, the once small and cozy 3rd floor restaurant has evolved into three stories of beautiful décor and great outdoor spaces, the most recent addition being a chic bar with spectacular 360 views of the capital. Madonna celebrated her birthday here and Usher chose the location for his wedding ceremony. It’s a perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or a tasty nightcap. Marlin tacos, ceviche and other tasty bites make for a delicious light meal under the stars.
Attached to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), the Cocinero attracts a trendy crowd of young Cubans, expats and tourists. A towering industrial chimney from the site’s previous life as a factory shoots into the Havana sky and a mix of house music, pop and Cuban tunes sets the relaxing mood. It’s the perfect spot to spend the evening lounging, pre-gaming for FAC or for a round of drinks following a meal in the downstairs dining room. The scene is symbolic of Havana’s evolution over the last decade, retaining the city’s beauty and charm but leaving you wondering if you might be in Miami or Madrid.
Situated on top of Donde Dorian, the trendsetting barber of the famous, Encuentros offers a glimpse into Havana’s millennial movement. Mohawks, skinny jeans, reggaeton and young Cubans snapping pics for Instagram dominate the scene. The light fare is surprisingly good (and cheap) and the crowd is nearly 100 percent Cuban (on the younger side). The wifi park in front and singers, actors and models getting haircuts downstairs connects you with 21st Century Cuba (and Miami). Located in a residential neighborhood just one story up, the people watching makes up for the limited views. Don’t expect to see a crowd before 10 pm on weekdays and 11 pm on the weekends.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski
Cuba’s first ever luxury hotel, the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, opened its doors in 2017. It has quickly become the site of fashion bloggers, middle eastern princes and the occasional Cuban intrigued by the Prada and Armani stores on the ground floor. Placement on the State Department’s banned entity list hasn’t kept Americans from staying in the ultra 5-star hotel or enjoying the elegant rooftop bar and pool. Overlooking Parque Central with stunning views of Gran Teatro, the Cuban Capitol and the Museum of Fine Arts, patrons can also east to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Old Havana’s Obispo Street.
Saratoga Hotel Rooftop
Not long ago the Saratoga was the stomping grounds of the rich and famous during their visits to Havana. The opening of the Kempinski took a jab at the Saratoga’s exclusivity, but it’s intimate rooftop pool deck is still one of best places to take in sun, fresh air and Caribbean cocktails. Sunbeds face the Cuban capitol and classic American cars circle the rotary that sits at the hotel’s entrance. Never too crowded, Saratoga rooftop is ideal for afternoons and early evenings. It’s hard to find a more comfortable and tranquil place to enjoy Havana from above.
Fábrica de Arte, VIP Section
La Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) is much more than a rooftop. The brainchild of Afro-Cuban fusion musician X Alfonso, FAC is an intellectual nexus for live music, art expos and fashion shows that has turned into a meeting spot for a young, eclectic crowd of Cubans and foreigners. The VIP room’s terrace – set up with an Austin-infused container design – offers a quiet escape from the massive gallery space, bars and discos in the rest of the complex. It’s perfect for a smoke break or fresh air before getting back to the action at FAC, as those “in the know” refer to Fabrica.
Not yet open to the public, Malecón 663 is the perfect place for a private event. Schmoozing with Havana’s entrepreneurs and cultural figures might also get you an invite to a DJ session or a sunset cocktail party here. Located along the malecón, the uniquely designed café, suites and roof terrace hug the malecón and windy days even bring refreshing sea water to the party. With sundown, lovers on the malecon, Morro Fortress in the distance, and Russian Ladas, Chevys and Fords cruising the seaside avenue, this spot is about as classic Havana as it gets.
The HAPE collective is perhaps the coolest underground party in town. Started as a monthly happy hour by Cuban creatives and expats, HAPE has evolved into an almost weekly DJ set and dance party in magical settings. The location varies by week, sometimes taking place deep in the Havana forest and oftentimes on the roof of rundown Havana buildings. Some parties are invite only or word-of-mouth, while others are advertised on the group’s Facebook page. It’s the best way to network with young Cubans and find yourself on a rooftop in the heart of the city.
La Flauta Magica
The view of the American Flag, US Embassy and Anti-imperialist plaza brings history and contradictions to your table at Flauta Magica. Subpar food and service make for a routinely changing crowd and a hit or miss culinary experience. It is perfect, however, to ponder US-Cuba relations and the past, present and future. Just one block from the Havana seawall the best time to visit is at sunset and 1-2 cold beers should do the trick.
El del Frente
El del Frente is tucked away above the bustling O’Reilly street in Old Havana. With artistically crafted mojitos, daiquiris, piña coladas, and more, you can’t go wrong with El del Frente’s modern art-deco decor, upstairs terrace, and outstanding seafood. Additionally, a highly recommended spot for taking Instagrams of drinks.