If you’re not one of the lucky travelers who booked a casa with a pool (look at rentals in Santos Suárez, Miramar and Nuevo Vedado), you might find that the midday heat of Havana has you searching for a convenient swimming option. There’s always the Malecón, where local kids show off their diving skills, but the water quality is anyones guess. As a foreigner who lacks the local antibodies, you’re almost assured to regret taking a dip. The beaches of Playas del Este are pristine and picturesque, but they are also a 25 minute cab ride away. Alternatively, you might consider one of the city’s hotel pools from the list below, which offer non-guest access. Officially, they all charge a cover for admission, often around 15 CUC per person, but the entrance fee usually includes a certain amount of free food and drink. If you have kids, or want to get relax a bit after some morning activities, a hotel pool is a great place to hunker down, drink a beer, and contemplate the unique surroundings. (Note: we don’t recommend staying at any of these hotels — they consistently receive unenthusiastic reviews from guests and are priced far higher than literally hundreds of amazing casas particulares all over the city.)
The Nacional has a secluded pool area that is perfect for spending an afternoon — the Mafia knew what they were doing when they designed this place, and the pool area is no exception. The hotel gardens are just steps away, where you can take in the views or order food and drink from waiters.
The Riviera’s 50s fancy lobby is a sight to behold, and just beyond it is the expansive pool area, which includes the old-school diving platform that haven’t been a feature of most pools in several decades. Food and drink is offered with entrance, and recorded music is sometimes playing. (Note: the earlier you arrive, the better chance you have of getting a deck chair and finding some shade!)
The Habana Libre is right in the thick of the hustle and bustle of La Rampa, but the pool and adjacent dining area is nestled in a serene corner of the second level. Climb the stairs in the lobby and head through the glass doors. Often, if you look like you are supposed to be there, they won’t charge you the cover for non-guests.
Hotel Capri just down the street from the Nacional also has an accessible rooftop pool, and the 5 Points by Sheraton on 5ta Avenida in Miramar also has a nice pool that visitors can use — photos coming soon!
Unfortunately, if you ask to get into the pool at Vedado’s Melia Cohiba, or the Parque Central, Saratoga, or Manzana de Gomez Kempinski, you won’t be let in — only guests of the hotel are allowed. If you ask the doorman you can usually go up to the roof to have a drink or take pictures though, which is not a bad option.