Review: Four Points By Sheraton Havana

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest

Cuba is not a place you visit because you’re looking for a great luxury hotel. Instead you make the best of the hotel situation that you can.

Since this blog is ultimately about miles & points, I decide to book the first & (so far) only U.S. hotel in Cuba that you can redeem points at. That would be the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, which was formerly the Hotel Quinta Avenida.

We were staying for two nights before New Year’s, so the price was high. We paid $335 per night including taxes and fees, and the rate was pre-paid. That’s because American credit cards aren’t accepted in Cuba, so Starwood is able to charge you for the stay in advance, and then you just have to pay for incidentals when you depart.

You can also redeem points at this hotel, at the rate of 25,000 Starpoints per night. That’s a lot of Starpoints for a Four Points by Sheraton property! Given that I value Starpoints at 2.2 cent each, paying cash seemed like the better value.

While the stay was expensive, Havana’s two best hotels go for a lot more ($700+ per night sometimes), and they’re not even five star by American standards.

Let me once again say that I didn’t book the Four Points because I thought it was necessarily the best option, but rather because this site’s focus is miles & points, and this hotel is pretty significant as far as U.S. points hotels in Cuba go. Most people don’t even recommend staying in hotels when visiting Cuba, but rather staying in someone’s home (a casa paticular), which would be the equivalent of a bed & breakfast.

The drive from the airport to our hotel ended up taking about an hour. That’s because on arrival in Havana the taxi drivers typically make you split a ride, and the couple we split a ride with was staying in Old Havana. So it was about 40 minutes to where they were staying, and then another 20 minutes to our hotel.

The Four Points is a pretty big hotel, and from the outside looks like it could be a three star resort in Orlando.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana exterior

The bones of the hotel were fine, though it’s pretty clear there’s some TLC missing — the awning was dirty, the fountain out front had nothing in it, and the light for the Four Points by Sheraton sign wasn’t even fully lit anymore, even though the hotel has just been under Starwood management for a few months.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana exterior

Four Points by Sheraton Havana exterior

The hotel’s website makes the hotel look horrible, so I was quite pleasantly surprised when I walked into the lobby. While it wasn’t my style preference, it was in good condition, had a Christmas tree in the middle of it, etc.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana lobby

Four Points by Sheraton Havana lobby

Four Points by Sheraton Havana lobby

The reception desk was located to the left, and once there, we were helped pretty quickly.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana reception

The associate thanked me for my loyalty to SPG, and handed us both forms we had to fill out stating our reason for visiting Cuba.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana paperwork

We also had to fill in some basic personal details on a separate sheet.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana paperwork

Within a couple of minutes she started to make some phone calls in Spanish and then called over someone else. I asked if everything was okay, and she said “we just need to change your rooms, because you have a room with just one bed.”

“Oh, that’s fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, we’ll make it work.”

During this whole conversation I noticed a sign next to reception with the wifi prices — holy cow! For reference, one CUC is worth more than one USD, so a 24 hour wifi ticket costs 110CUC, which is ~130USD. Now, it’s worth noting that the price isn’t for continuous use, but rather you can log on and off. So a 24 hour pass would last a very long time.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana wifi pricing

The good news is that the associate handed us pieces of paper with complimentary wifi, as that’s a standard benefit when booking through SPG. On the surface that’s a great feature, though the wifi ended up being virtually unusable, so…

Four Points by Sheraton Havana wifi code

Also, check out the posted rack rates at this hotel — oy!

Four Points by Sheraton Havana rack rates

Soon enough we had a key to our room, located on the fifth floor. The hotel has a pretty cool atrium of sorts right next to the elevators.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana atrium

Four Points by Sheraton Havana hallway

Once on the fifth floor we turned right, and then our room was the last room on the right.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana hallway

Four Points by Sheraton Havana hallway

Four Points Havana room exterior

The second we opened the door we were hit with a strong urine odor. It was noticeable and unpleasant at first, but we got used to it. At first we were going to go to the front desk and ask for a new room, but then figured this might be a common issue, so we just got used to it instead.

The room itself was significantly nicer than I was expecting. The hotel’s website makes the rooms look horrible (a picture from the hotel’s website is below), but instead we found that they were perfectly fine.

Four Points room, per the hotel’s website

The room had a very comfortable Sheraton brand standard bed, which was the highlight of the room. The mattress and sheets were exactly the same you’d find at any U.S. Sheraton property, so we managed to sleep well.

Four Points Havana king room

Four Points Havana king room

Four Points Havana king room

At the foot of the bed was an iron bench-looking-thing-of-sorts, which I assume was intended for luggage.

Four Points Havana king room

Across from the bed was the desk with a chair, which is also where the TV and mini-fridge were located.

Four Points Havana king room desk & TV

The mini-fridge said “No Incluido” on it, but had nothing in it…

Four Points Havana king room fridge

Four Points Havana king room fridge

Then in the far corner of the room was a sitting area with two chairs and a coffee machine.

Four Points Havana king room seating

Four Points Havana king room coffee & tea

The bathroom was back near the entrance. The area with the sink wasn’t in any way partitioned off from the rest of the room.

Four Points Havana king room bathroom

I appreciated that they had two massive bottles of complimentary water there.

Four Points Havana king room bottled water

Then to the left was a room with a toilet, tub, and walk-in shower.

Four Points Havana king room bathtub

Four Points Havana king room toilet

Four Points Havana king room shower

Everything was reasonably clean, and toiletries were in dispensers, as is the norm at Four Points properties.

Four Points Havana king room toiletries

Across from the bathroom was a closet, which is also where the safe was located. I don’t often use hotel safes, but this was one of those instances where I did.

Four Points Havana king room closet

Four Points Havana king room safe

I had a huge smile on my face when I saw a welcome amenity from my SPG Ambassador. I’m not talking about the wine so much, but rather the cute note he wrote. It’s always nice to feel like you’re home, no matter where in the world you are.

Four Points Havana welcome amenity

The room also had a pretty big balcony. However, the door between the room and the balcony couldn’t be locked, but rather just slid closed. We figured we were on a high enough floor so it didn’t really present a safety issue. We were also out of our room for almost the entire day, so didn’t want to have to wait on maintenance staff, etc.

Four Points Havana king room balcony

Four Points Havana king room balcony

The balcony had a beautiful view of the surrounding area (though the hotel is a bit removed from Old Havana, so it’s not the view you may expect).

Four Points Havana king room balcony view

Four Points Havana king room balcony view

Overall I thought the room was perfectly fine. It wasn’t luxurious, had a mild odor, and the balcony door wouldn’t lock, but at least the bed was very comfortable, the bathroom clean, etc.

One issue with the room was that the wifi network didn’t seem to extend to our room, probably because it was at the end of the hall. So at first I spent a fair amount of time sitting in the chairs in the hallway, where the signal did extend to. However, the wifi at this hotel is virtually unusable, so I just gave up after the first morning.

Four Points by Sheraton Havana hallway seating

In terms of the hotel’s other features, there’s a cigar bar and store on the lobby level. My dad requested some Cuban cigars so it was my quest to find some for him. However, they were significantly more expensive here than at a “legitimate” cigar & tobacco shop (so you don’t want to buy cigars at hotels, but also don’t want to buy them off the street).

Four Points Havana king room lobby cigar shop

Also on the lobby level was a lobby bar, where you could get a coffee in the morning or drinks in the evening.

Four Points Havana lobby bar

As I said above, we didn’t really spend much time at the hotel other than to sleep, but the hotel seemed to have an outdoor pool bar, at least in theory.

Four Points Havana pool area bar

Four Points Havana pool area bar

There was also a nice pool, which looked clean and in fairly good condition.

Four Points Havana pool area

Four Points Havana pool area

All rates at this hotel include breakfast, so the first morning we had breakfast at Olivo Restaurante, which serves breakfast.

Four Points Havana restaurant

The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor seating includes individual tables, while the indoor seating has communal tables.

Four Points Havana restaurant outdoor seating

Four Points Havana restaurant indoor seating

I’ll let the pictures of the buffet speak for themselves.

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

Four Points Havana breakfast buffet

In terms of other considerations, the hotel really isn’t conveniently located if you’re looking to visit Old Havana (which is where most people want to be). Instead it’s in a more residential area, which is a good 15 minute taxi drive from the center of town. Most taxis will try to charge you $15-20 for the ride (though you can easily negotiate it down to ~$10, depending on the type of car). There’s very little within walking distance of the hotel, so you’ll have to take a car no matter where you want to go.

Four Points Havana bottom line

Havana has a shortage of hotel rooms at the moment (and just about everything tourists are looking for, for that matter), so tourist prices are getting unreasonable.

It was interesting to see Cuba’s first U.S. points hotel. The property was clean, the staff were well intentioned, etc. At the same time, the hotel doesn’t have a great location, and most people seem to recommend staying at a bed & breakfast in Havana, which can be done for a tiny fraction of the cost of a hotel, and give you a more authentic experience. However, that’s not going to be for everyone.

So my biggest issue with the Four Points is its location. It’s a trek from Old Havana, so the cost (both in terms of time and money) of being outside of the ideal area really adds up.

If you’re looking for the nicest possible hotel, consider the Saratoga Hotel or Hotel Nacional. However, they can be outrageously expensive, and they’re still not “true” luxury hotels.

  1. I bet “the troops” can’t wait to visit this hotel on shore leave and gorge themselves on the buffet while the Jamaican people starve in the streets

  2. Hosea; if you’d leave your trailer park you’d know w that the people of Cuba…. are Cubans.

  3. Im sorry, but rooms in Cuba DO NOT spell of Piss. That was a guest that got drunk one night and failed to make it to the toilet. You should have changed our room. I cant believe this review.

  4. @Petter if that’s the case then how come the country has such rampant malnutrition and starvation that there isn’t even a single Jamaican in the major leagues today? Even “Papa Doc” Castro himself once tried out for the Washington Nationals back in the day, but now the country’s proud baseball tradition has been decimated. Meanwhile, “the troops” sit around eating bon bons. Do some research and think for yourself.

  5. So when are you going to North Korea, stay at that hotel that resembles a fake Sheraton, and review it?

    @Dan Allen

    All of Cuba smells of piss. Especially those terrorist prisoners inside Gitmo.

  6. Who would accept a room in this condition even if it was free remember silence is consent I am very surprised SPG would not be checking standards very day ,every room at this hotel to ensure things are right

  7. From the NY Times article “Cuba’s Surge in Tourism Keeps Food Off Residents’ Plates”

    “Tourists are quite literally eating Cuba’s lunch. Thanks in part to the United States embargo, but also to poor planning by the island’s government, goods that Cubans have long relied on are going to well-heeled tourists and the hundreds of private restaurants that cater to them, leading to soaring prices and empty shelves.

    Without supplies to match the increased appetite, some foods have become so expensive that even basic staples are becoming unaffordable for regular Cubans”.

    Something to think about if your reason for going is ‘Support for the Cuban People’.

  8. I stopped reading after strong smell of urine. how can you review the hitel without checking another room? Makes the review useless.

  9. Please ban Melissa, thanks.

    Also, there’s no way I’m traveling to Cuba now. What a complete dump, and at those prices, it’s an even easier decision.

  10. 1 CUC = 1 USD plus the conversion fee. When I traveled there before the CUC was required for tourists, I taxied across town for USD$1-$2 max. I think its still about the same unless you want a ride in the old American cars.

  11. The food looks better than I thought, but I’d be concerned about food safety standards. Even US/international hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, which have had US tourists far longer than Cuba and are, theoretically, developing countries as opposed to third-world communist dictatorships, have issues from time to time. I’d be afraid to drink the water, eat the food — especially anything I couldn’t peel and wash or see was adequately refrigerated. Cheese sitting out in tropical weather is bad.

  12. As for the architecture, while it’s not much to look at, the style is pretty similar to what you find in the Virgin Islands, Guam and other places where hurricanes have resulted in pretty much any building since the 1960s being a concrete shell with some arches or facade decoration that pays tribute to colonial architecture. At least the decor inside the rooms is tropical with the Lilly Pulitzer-esque colors.

  13. Also, maybe Gay is prohibited in Cuba, that’s why the reception was so shocked to know you accepted one bed for two men in the same room? LOL….

  14. I visited this hotel last February before it was rebranded. Aside from the beds, it doesn’t look like they changed anything — even the breakfast is still identical.
    A couple of tips — if the Malecon is closed due to high waves (as it was during our stay), it can take longer to get to central Havana, the money change counter never opened on time the entire time we were there, and the guys at the bar at night were very kind.

  15. @ Dan — That’s how they handed the form to me. I suspect it was to indicate that I booked directly through SPG, so was entitled to wifi, etc. As mentioned at the top of my post, I paid for the stay in full.

  16. What good is all your money and this incredible privilege to travel if you waste it on a drab hotel yet again.

    You knew that staying in Casa Paticulars was recommended and yet you didn’t do that? Pitiful and pathetic.

  17. Lucky this is a fascinating review, and thanks for it, but I am also confused why you didn’t change your room if there was a strong smell of piss? Was this smell elsewhere in the hotel? This seems like a major reason for a room change even in a relatively undeveloped country, and a hotel under new management.

  18. Gosh, there is quite a lot of vitriol here for what is a perfectly fair review of a hotel that actually looks ok by Cuban standards (i stayed in the famous Sevilla in 2015 and it was fairly poor even if the staff were friendly and the location great, and in spite of its association with Novotel). Quite useful given the paucity of reviews out there.

    This Hosea person is hilarious – seems to think that the native population is Jamaican and Papa Doc used to be the president. What else are we going to find out about Cuba?

  19. Thats it. I’ve decided that the NEXT time I am in a hotel – which will be next week – Im taking a big hot piss on the floor and rug and then just doing nothing about it. If people can find it perfectly acceptable to life with the smell of urine because its Cuba whatever that means – than they will be happy to live with my contribution to culture.

  20. Did I miss something, or are piss-smelling rooms one of the hot new travel trends of 2017? Is this something millennials prefer, sort of like rooms without desks?

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