Chalk it up to Chanel’s recent Cruise 17 show or the fact that Americans can now legally travel to Cuba—albeit with some restrictions—but there’s no denying Havana is fast becoming one of 2016’s hottest destinations. With its incredible architecture, amazing local eateries, and bright vintage car collection, it serves as the perfect getaway for the stylish jet-setter. Need proof? Doina Ciobanu of The Golden Diamonds created the ultimate fashion girl’s guide to the historic city, complete with wardrobe essentials and must-read tips, and we have the exclusive images!
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“When preparing for my trip to Cuba, I decided nothing would be better to wear than Alice Temperley’s S/S16 collection, which is actually inspired by Havana! So I filled my suitcase with a few colourful dresses, tops, and skirts, all with slits and an open chest. They worked quite perfectly with the heat and the surroundings, especially among the ruined mansion that now hosts the establishment that is the city’s La Guarida.”
On Doina Ciobanu: Temperley London Arabelle Wrap Dress ($2115).
“Wear linen. In Cuba you’ll feel the heat weakening every part of your body, so it’s important to stay comfortable and breezy. Linen is the perfect choice for that. The skirt I’m wearing is from Altuzarra, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of spring.”
“You’d expect the Museum of Revolution to be quite dull, filled with propaganda and short on history before Castro’s time—not this one! The former presidential palace was decorated by none other than Tiffany & Co. and has beautiful neoclassical elements you can’t really see in many other places in Havana.”
“The best coffee in Havana is to be found at Cafe O’Reilly. Located in the heart of Habana Vieja, the place offers the perfect midday break. Despite the heat, avoid their cold drinks, which are lackluster, and opt for the warm Cafe Bonbom. It’s absolute heaven!”
“Fruits, fruits, and fruits. That is one of my favourite parts of traveling to an exotic destination. Havana offers a big variety of them all around the city. You won’t be able to find them in supermarkets like we’re used to; everything here is separated. So if you see some while walking through the streets of Old Havana, make sure you buy and enjoy them later.”
“All the tour guides will take you to the antique market in Plaza de Armas, but don’t expect too much. It is mostly filled with books about Castro or The Little Prince, posters of Castro and Hemingway, and vintage Coca-Cola bottles.”
“From Winston Churchill to Frank Sinatra, Hotel Nacional has hosted some of the biggest names of the past century. Famous for their cocktails, cigars, and beautiful atmosphere, it’s definitely a must for everyone’s itinerary in Havana.”
“I’ll be honest: The colorful vintage cars were definitely one of the things that attracted me to Cuba the most. When you get there, it’s hard not believe your eyes, because every second car is like the one in the picture. Don’t prebook a car online—they come in various conditions, from rusty to perfectly renovated. Instead, rent a convertible on sight, put on a pair of vintage-inspired glasses, and a Dior outfit and you’re living the dream—or at least a movie scene!”
“La Guarida on Concordia Street is one of the most beautiful and famous places in Havana, thanks to the Cuban movie Fresa y Chocolate. The building itself used to be a palace, but now it is the home to many locals on the first few floors and the best restaurant in town on the top floor. The prices are around $15 to $20 for a main course, and be sure to keep room for dessert. My tip is to try the guava mousse. It’s unlike anything I've had before!”
“Havana really brought the color out of me. And it’s so much fun to be as bright as the buildings around you. Traveler tip: Little has changed in Cuba in a long time, so don’t be afraid to buy vintage guidebooks for her cities. The one I’m holding I bought at my local London library for only 50 pesos, and it was the best investment!”
“Magical sunset on the Malecon. Grab a bottle of wine (or rum, if you’re feeling local) and your beloved one for a romantic evening on the famous boulevard.”
“A very unusual thing about Havana is the fact that most of the prices are government regulated, a rule that applies to the classic cars. Unlike other cities, it doesn’t matter where you rent a car, as they’ll all be around 25CUC per hour while reminding you that the price is normally 50CUC and you just happened to come on discount day. So my advice is to head into the center of the city, right near the capital building, and pick whichever color your heart desires.”
“While in Havana, make sure you buy flowers! They're super colorful and tropical and will make your casa smell beautiful.”
“Frankly, not the best ice cream in the world, but definitely a must. Coppelia is a local favorite and reputedly welcomes around 35,000 customers a day due to it being open 24 hours.”
“While staying in Havana, we decided to try the beach that’s east of the city. All the online reviews describe it as one of Cuba’s best beaches, which is a complete lie. Arriving there was a very sad experience as all the sand was covered in plastic and rubbish. However, our driver for the day suggested another part of the 15-kilometer-long beach. That area is popular with Havana’s LGTB community, not too crowded, and much better kept. Walk a little away from the umbrellas and chairs and you’ll find an isolated area that can figure in as your own private Cuban beach for the day.”
On Doina Ciobanu: Agent Provocateur Anja Swimsuit ($405).
“In a city like Havana, you’ll find a lot of emerging artists who trade their work for very low prices. It’s phenomenal to observe what modern art in a society free of the modern influence like the internet or TV evolves to be. I think art is a worthy souvenir from Cuba.”
On Doina Ciobanu: Altuzarra Hiroki Lightweight Linen Skirt ($995).
“One of my favorite places in Havana is the Hotel Inglaterra, which is right in the center of the city. On a cloudy day, you can sit at the terrace on the ground floor, which offers live Cuban music, but make sure you try the rooftop bar during good weather. It offers a stunning view of Habana Vieja, which is especially magic during sunset.”
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