Last Friday some of us took to advantage of the short workday to have lunch at the Cool Cafe downtown. If you have never been to the Cool Cafe, you are missing out on a hidden little gem. The cafe, which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, is a treat for the riverside patio-dining experience alone. After spending a couple of hours enjoying a few laughs over delicious sangrias, Rob, our unofficial expert on San Antonio dining, suggested we visit the adjacent Havana Riverwalk Inn.
Built in 1914 as a residential hotel, the Havana is a treat from the second guests cross the front gate which leads into a charming little garden accentuated by salvaged items of architecture, cleverly used as garden decor. Once we entered the lobby of the hotel, we were greeted by the Havana’s friendly staff who allowed us to walk around the building a bit – what a treat! From Navarro Street, where the building is located, it’s hard to imagine the architectural beauty that continues within. The cozy lobby is furnished as though this were a private residence welcoming tired travelers to San Antonio – I didn’t have a difficult time imagining myself having a morning cup of coffee here before beginning a fun day of sight-seeing!
The warm yellows of the walls contrasted wonderfully with the dark wood trim of the windows and doors as well as my favorite, the main staircase. Upstairs, the Havana offers guests serene patios, one at the front off Navarro Street, and one at the rear with a calming little water fountain perfect for relaxing next to after a long day’s walk. The Havana’s staff was also kind enough to show us a couple of the rooms off the lobby. I wanted to kick my shoes off the second the first room’s door was opened – tastefully decorated in period furnishings, the rooms provide guests an experience of comfort and style.
The Havana Riverwalk Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 while in serious need of restoration. It was purchased and dutifully renovated to its present state in 1992. In 1997, the hotel’s Club Cohiba opened featuring a variety cocktails, wines, and an antique humidor – another reason to return! The hotel was recently sold: it is our hope that its new owners preserve the Havana’s historic beauty and tradition.
While modern hotels are great in their own right, there’s something to be said about the uniqueness of staying in a hotel like the Havana – especially when visiting a history-rich city like San Antonio. If you’re going to visit, why not get the full experience?
Villa Finale would like to thank the friendly staff at the Havana Riverwalk Inn for their generosity.
— Sylvia Hohenshelt