In 2013 I traveled to Havana for a few days. The efficiency exhibited by Fidel Castro’s socialism is evident by the state of deterioration of Havana and the country in general. I stayed at the “5-star” hotel Melia Cohiba; a 1980’s structure that, just like everything else in Havana, felt like it was 100 years old.
The hotel room had a horrible sewer smell (happened to have a sewer leak for which they didn’t have parts to fix it with). Elevators consisted of 4 elevators facing another 4 elevators. Two of the 8 elevators where original (brand unknown), 3 were Otis and another 3 were Schindler. I was so afraid of the condition of all 3 elevator vintages that I walked up 15 flights of stairs every time I went to my room (see view from the room below).
Havana is generally speaking a low-rise city with a few high rises such as the hotel I was staying at. Cars (and gas) are a luxury so much so that you may see one car pass on a 4 lane streets every 10 minutes or so.
Buildings in Old Havana are crumbling down (walk in the middle of the street so as to avoid small pieces of facades and balconies from falling on you). They have potential but they need a TON of work!
The best way to see the city is to rent a 50’s American car – usually pimped up, tacky and kept together with retrofitted parts. You see different areas of the city, people and other period cars.
Despite all these shortcomings the Cuban people are AMAZING and fun. Food at the paladares is amazing and have a great vibe.