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How Fashion People and Celebrities Do Cuba

It's not all cigars and old cars (but some of it is).

The relationship between the United States and Cuba may still be in its infancy, but that hasn't stopped a plethora of celebrities and fashion A-listers from booking vacations to the nearby island nation ASAP. With its old cars and even older architecture, the city of Havana is pure Instagram bait — and social media-savvy stars have been quick to capitalize. 

Designers and fashion glossies have taken notice, too. Over the past several seasons, major brands like Valentino, Proenza Schouler and Stella McCartney have all released collections inspired by República de Cuba. Marie Claire, W, Porter and Vanity Fair have shot and released editorials with Cuba as a backdrop. And let's not forget Chanel, which, this past May, held its Cruise runway show right in the heart of Old Havana. 

Though the socialist country doesn't yet have much in terms of its own fashion industry, Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld sums up Cuba's sartorial appeal succinctly: "Here,” he says, “you can really wear jewelry. Here, you can smile whenever you want. It is adorable."

From the Havana hotel that's hosted Beyonce and Madonna to the resto where Rihanna filled up on steak and pork chops, read on to discover how you, too, can vaca in Cuba like a famous. 

Beyonce at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana. Photo: beyonce/Tumblr

Beyonce at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana. Photo: beyonce/Tumblr

Where they stay

Hotel Saratoga

The hip Hotel Saratoga may just be the most luxurious of Cuban retreats, boasting such famous guests as Beyoncé and Jay Z, as well as Madonna. The baroque-style, five-star hotel is located right in the center of Old Havana and is just minutes from the beach. In addition to its multiple bars and upscale restaurant, Saratoga also has a rooftop pool with insane views of the picturesque city below — justifying most of the rooms' $700+/night costs. 

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Just on the edge of Havana Bay is the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where supermodel Naomi Campbell sometimes stays. First opened in 1930, it has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre. And its appeal remains to this day: The elegant, art deco-style hotel features three restaurants and bars, plus two pools, a fitness room with a sauna and a tennis court. 

Hotel Florida

Those with Instagram likes on the brain need look no further for a spot to stay in Cuba than the Hotel Florida. With its checkerboard floors and column-filled, Spanish-style indoor courtyard, this 19th-century colonial-style destination was made to be photographed. Just outside are the bustling streets of Old Havana and the pedestrian-only area of Calle Obispo — and at night, there's a piano bar playing traditional Cuban and jazz music inside. 

Where they eat

Paladar Dona Carmela

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A photo of Beyonce and Jay Z now hangs inside the doorway of Paladar Dona Carmela, the "secret" Havana restaurant where the famous lovebirds dined during their anniversary visit to Cuba in 2013. There, guests munch on traditional Cuban dishes like octopus and roast pork in a quaint, walled-off garden lush with tropical plants. 

La Guarida

To celebrate her 58th birthday, Madonna headed to La Guarida restaurant, a 70-seat eatery where Naomi Campbell, Jack Nicholson, Natalie Portman, and Jay and Bey have also eaten. La Guarida (which means The Hideaway) first became famous in the mid-'90s after it was featured in the Oscar-nominated film "Fresa y Chocolate." Now, this bohemian gem — located within a crumbling building in Centro Habana — continues to charm patrons with its quirky interior, international menu and panoramic views.  

San Cristóbal Paladar

The Kardashian family got a taste of real Cuban cuisine at San Cristóbal Paladar, a Havana restaurant known for its traditional dishes and quirky decor. Walls covered in vintage photographs and posters, plus antique sculptures and stacks of old books and records make this paladar a treasure trove for those seeking out old-school Cuba. The meals (and desserts) are equally as tasty. 

La Fontana Havana

Rihanna has gotten her chow on at La Fontana Havana, reportedly eating the restaurant's black beans, grilled chorizos, pork chops and local dish "grandma's steak" before dancing the rest of the night away. The spacious eatery is known for its contemporary grilled dishes, live music and strong drinks. But don't let its large capacity fool you: Multiple dining areas and a rustic outdoor patio lend La Fontana an intimate and cozy vibe. 

What they do

Old Car Tours 

It seems that no one can resist the allure of Havana's perfectly preserved vintage cars — not even the world's most famous celebs. Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Sara Sampaio, Katy Perry, Jay Z and Beyonce, the Kardashians Mick Jagger, Madonna and Paris Hilton have all taken a spin in Cuba's retro rides, and they've got the pics to prove it. If you want to get in on the photo-friendly fun, there are several classic car tour groups to choose from in Havana, like Old Car Tours, Havana Vintage Car Tours and the Havana Tour Company

International Habano Cigar Festival

Cuba takes its famous cigars very seriously, so it's no surprise that this five day-long event is the largest international gathering of cigar enthusiasts in the world. Featuring live music, cigar rolling classes, lectures, visits to tobacco plantations and cigar factories, and a glamorous closing gala, Festival del Habano Cigar draws thousands each year – including celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton. In 2017, the festival takes place from Feb. 27 to March 3. Those wishing to attend may click here to register. 

Museum of Rum

When the Kardashian krew went to Cuba, they made sure to stop by Fundación Museo del Ron Havana Club — Havana's Museum of Rum. It's half museum, half rum bar: While a tour guide leads guests through exhibits showcasing the history of Cuba's rum trade (which goes all the way back to Christopher Columbus) and the process of producing the liquor itself, guests sample Cuba's various rum offerings and mixed cocktails. With tours available in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian, you really don't have any excuse to miss this must-visit tourist destination. 

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