Texas hotelier Liz Lambert reimagines one of San Antonio’s most beloved Riverwalk landmarks
When you cross the blue tile porch and enter san Antonio’s newly reopened Hotel Havana, it looks like nothing has changed in the small, uncluttered lobby: Lights are dim, the original hardwood floor is still covered with red Persian rugs, the dark wood beams contrast with white walls. The overall effect conveys a certain old-world stateliness. And this is surprising given that the Havana was recently bought by Austin hotelier Liz Lambert, who won her rep by taking over run-down structures and playfully making them over into boutique hotels that are citadels of hip. Happily, it turns out that Lambert also has the good sense to heed the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After acquiring the property late last year, she managed to work her mojo in about a hundred days.
Lambert used the charm of the original 1914 Mediterranean Revival building to her advantage, streamlining and brightening the look of things with an interesting mix of old Havana meets old San Antonio flavor in each of its twenty-seven rooms. “After the revolution everything stopped in Cuba; places there had a beautiful patina, but they just got old without changing,” explains Lambert, a West Texas native who once served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. “You’d never confuse Cuba with Mexico, but the two go together well because there’s a cultural influence they share, the Latin influence of style, and the use of color.”