Architecture of Hotel Conde de Villanueva
Hotel Conde de Villanueva dates back to the end of the 18th century.
The hotel is lent prominence by its dramatic rust-red facade trimmed with cobalt green doors, white detailing, and wrought-iron lanterns and balustrade. A small park immediately opposite the entry lends an airy openness while providing a calming place to sit beneath shade trees and watch the ebb and flow of local street life.
Arriving guests enter via tall, brass-studded carriage doors to step into an elongated lobby-lounge, with the reception on the left. Although the original tile floor has been replaced with modern terra-cotta ceramics, elements of colonial mosaics remain, as do the original crystal chandeliers dangling from the beamed ceiling. Comfortable contemporary sofas and armchairs are done in the hotel's thematic deep red and green. A small TV with satellite channels is available, but is rarely turned on to intrude on the welcoming calm.
The lobby opens to a courtyard patio graced with planters and classical marble statuary, horse-tying posts. Caged songbirds add notes of delight, punctuated by the occasional shriek of a resident peacock. Ground-level rooms are fronted by a shady arcade supported by thick Tuscan columns; upstairs, the arcade is enclosed and protected from direct sunlight by shuttered windows topped by half-moon-shaped stained glass windows that splash a shifting mosaic of colors onto the terra-cotta tile floors.
A broad staircase leads from the patio to a mezzanine, whose low-ceilinged beamed rooms have been converted into a glass-enclosed, walk-in humidor fully stocked with a broad selection of Cuban cigars. An adjoining smoking lounge features sumptuous leather sofas and air conditioning. Mojitos and other drinks are served to order in this rather cramped space. An elegant meeting room can seat 60 people. The hotel lacks parking facilities, and access by private car is difficult.
In 1998 it was carefully restored (conserving its original style) and open as hotel, specially aimed at the lovers of the Cuban Cigars. This is manifested in the interior architecture, in the names of the rooms, according to tobacco plantations, and in the paintings and photography.