Villa San José del Lago

Hotel in Northern Sancti Spíritus

Once popular with vacationing Americans, this novel spa is just outside Mayajigua in northern Sancti Spíritus Province. The tiny rooms are set in a variety of two-story villas, nestled beside a small palm-fringed lake with pedal boats and two resident flamingos. It's famous for its thermal waters (32°C), first used by injured slaves in the 19th century, now for holidaying Cubans.

The 67 rooms are no-frills, but the setting, wedged between the Sierra de Jatibonico and Parque Nacional Caguanes, is magnificent and makes a good base for some of Cuba's lesser-known excursions. There's a restaurant and snack bar on-site.