Where to Stay in Cuba

Lonely Planet makes some suggestions of some good casas particulares (find out what that means in my first blog about Cuba, here) in each town; otherwise, some casas have Trip Advisor stickers on their front doors to advertise their success at hosting guests.

Usually, when you find yourself at your first casa in Cuba, you will pretty much be organised for the rest of your trip. Your hostess will offer to find you a casa at the next place you are headed, and book you transportation to pick you up at your door and take you to your new temporary home.

To find your first casa and get your trip going, you can either book online from home, or walk around and knock on doors when you arrive. If you choose to book ahead, keep in mind that it can be a slow process and take weeks to get replies between emails, so start organising well in advance. Ensure you write down all details of your booked casa, including the address and a contact name and phone number, in case you need them when you arrive. It is also a good idea to write down the contact name and phone number of the person you have been emailing to organise your casa for you, just in case. It is usually not a problem to walk around door-knocking, as most Cubans are awake until quite late at night and expect travellers to request a bed every now and then. However, you may be doing a fair bit of walking before you find a casa that suits your needs and has availability. It’s always better to have a place booked before you arrive if you can.

In case you want to organise your own accommodation and are looking for more suggestions than what you can currently read about in Lonely Planet, there are a few websites you can take a look at. I used http://casaparticular.org/ , but you should note that organising through this website will take several weeks. Other websites I looked at but did not personally use include  www.casasparticulares.com , http://www.casaparticularcuba.org/ , and http://cubaparticular.com/ .

I’ve listed below the casas in which I stayed and what I found good and bad about them, as a starting point. The prices listed are what I paid, though I understand they may be higher in the high season (the end of November, throughout December and possibly into January).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the relaxing hammocks at Hostal Dos Leones, Playa La Boca

Havana Vieja

  • Casa Carusa, Calle Acosta 412, between Calle Egidio and Calle Curazao, Havana Vieja
    • Amelia was our hostess here. She was very helpful and kind, always up for a conversation and some advice-giving. She does not speak English; only Spanish.
    • Amelia can make you breakfast for CUC $5 per person per day. Breakfast consists of eggs, cheese, meat, vegetables, bread, butter, coffee, juice, and a fruit platter.
    • Amelia can do your washing for you if you’d like. We had quite a bit to do including pairs of jeans after our time in chilly Mexico City, so we paid CUC $12.
    • The property is conveniently located within a short walk of many of Old Havana’s greatest attractions, including several fantastic restaurants and bars, and many museums and architectural attractions.
    • The property has a long, slim staircase that would not be good for older or larger guests.
    • Our bedroom had a bathroom within, but there was no door between the two and it was very open.
    • The hot water was sporadic at best.
    • We paid CUC $30 per night for our room.

 

Havana – Vedado

  • Royal House, Calle 10 No. 113, between Calzada and Calle 5, Vedado
    • Luca and Taimy were our hosts here. They speak a little bit of English. They are kind and helpful.
    • The house itself is lovely, with a small balcony with a table and chairs for guest use, as well as the rooftop area having a bar, jacuzzi, and more chairs. The bedroom had many extra touches, such as our towels in different nifty shapes (swans, presents, lollies) each day, and throw pillows on the neatly made bed.
    • You are not provided with a key to your room, which was unusual for us as every other casa had given us a key to our room and the front door of the property. However, the property has high fences and several security cameras, as well as a gate that needs to be manually unlocked from the inside. Someone is always home to let you in, 24/7, as there is a man who works nights.
    • The casa offers breakfast, though we never ate there. There is also a food and drinks menu in your room with various snack options.
    • Our room had a huge bed in it, as well as a large TV, a radio/sound system, a small fridge, air conditioning, and a bathroom.
    • The hot water was consistent, though the showerhead wasn’t properly fixed to the wall and needed to be held to use it properly.
    • We had our room cleaned every day and new towels daily, which was unexpected.
    • We had our washing done here, which cost CUC $5 for our one bag.
    • We paid CUC $35/night to stay here, though it was high season at this point.
    • You can contact them on: Ph: (53) 78 307 947 or (53) 58 045 625; e: vacanzacuba@yahoo.it; vacanzacuba.it
  • Casa Viel, Calle Linea No. 1004 (Bajos), between Calle 10 and Calle 12, Vedado
    • Our hosts were Milagros and Victor. They were both astoundingly kind and went well out of their way to help us multiple times. Milagros doesn’t speak English, but Victor speaks fluent English and happily translates any/all conversations between you and Milagros.
    • The house is lovely with a balcony with several chairs and tables, as well as a lounge room with comfortable couches and a TV, and a dining room.
    • Our room had air conditioning, a large bed, a small fridge, and a bathroom.
    • The hot water was consistent.
    • Milagros and Victor explained that the water they use in the casa is all boiled and then purified so you don’t need to worry when they serve glasses of water or ice. They were there to answer any questions we had, and loved to chat.
    • When we stayed with them, I was very ill. They went well out of their way to make me tea with fresh mint from their garden, as well as plain pasta for my lunch and plain rice for my dinner. The next morning they made me more tea, and gave me crackers to eat as my stomach was still very unwell. They refused to charge us for any of this and said they just wanted me to feel better. We couldn’t imagine more hospitable hosts, especially in a foreign country when you are unwell.
    • On top of this, they woke up early to make Alex a full breakfast for 6am, with fruit salad, bread rolls, butter, jam, eggs however he wanted, coffee, juice, and pastries. This was CUC $5.
    • They made Alex dinner which was large and very tasty, consisting of juicy roast pork, rice and beans, mashed Malanga (kind of like potato), potato chips, tomato, cucumber, and lettuce. This cost CUC $10.
    • The next morning Alex was locked in our bedroom as the door malfunctioned and wouldn’t open. Without hesitation Victor ran to our aid and did everything he could to help, which ended up involving asking our taxi driver to shoulder-charge the door to break it open and get Alex out. They were nothing but apologetic that this had happened, and so kind to us in every way.
    • We were only able to stay one night as they had been booked out prior, but we would have loved to have stayed longer with them.
    • We paid CUC $35 for our night here.
    • You can contact them on: Ph: (053) 52 940 846; e: milagros6210@nauta.cu; http://casaviel.blogspot.mx/

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our room at Royal House, Vedado, Havana

 

Viñales

  • Villa La Niña, Adela Azcuy Norte No. 11, Viñales
    • Elisabeth was our hostess. She was very helpful and understanding, and speaks some English, certainly enough to get by if you don’t speak Spanish.
    • The house is located right near the main street of Viñales, which is an excellent location within walking distance of a few of the main attractions of the town (including the Botanic Gardens and Cueva de la Vaca), and a bike ride length to most other attractions.
    • The house itself is lovely. It is all very clean, and there is a beautiful hut with electrical sockets you can use behind the main house. There is also a table and chairs on the rooftop which provides a beautiful view of the Viñales sunset and the nearby mountains.
    • Our room had a fridge, two double beds, and a bathroom within it.
    • The hot water was sporadic.
    • Elisabeth and her family were wonderful cooks. They provided breakfast on request for CUC $5, and dinner was CUC $10. The meals were delicious and so plentiful it was impossible to finish them. The food here was some of the best in Cuba.
    • We paid CUC $25 per night for our room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our view from the roof of Villa La Nina, Vinales

 

Cienfuegos

  • Hostal Pink House, Avenida 42 No. 4913, between Calles 49 and 51
    • Henry and Lalita were our hosts. They were both friendly and helpful and spoke some English.
    • The water was sporadically turned off, without warning or reason. This was highly inconvenient at times.
    • Hot water was fine when the water was working.
    • There is an internet hot spot across the road from the house if you bought the card needed to access it.
    • Dinner was tasty and filling, and served with dessert. The prices varied depending on the type of meat chosen but was about CUC $7-10, with lobster costing more.
    • Breakfast was CUC $5 and was the usual eggs, bread, butter, fruit salad, coffee and juice. The juice was quite watered down on the first day but better on the next. We were also given sachets of mango jam and guava jam, which were delicious.
    • We paid CUC $25 per night for our room.
    • You can contact them on: Ph: (53) 4352 8734; e: lalita05@nauta.cu

 

Trinidad

  • Sarahi Santander Soler, Francisco Peterssen (also known as Callejón Chinchiquirá) No. 179, between Calle Rosario and Callejón de San Cayetano
    • Our hosts were not very hospitable. It felt awkward to ask for breakfast when we were there, and we didn’t feel particularly welcome, which was not how any of our other casas had been.
    • Our room smelled and looked quite mouldy and damp.
    • Our room had a powerful fan, a mini fridge, and a bathroom.
    • The water was hot and consistent.
    • The breakfast was CUC $5 and was tasty, except for the very bitter coffee. We were also provided with honey.
    • We heard the hostess speaking with other guests about dinner so I presume dinner is available if you ask for it.
    • There was a lovely patio area with tables and chairs surrounded by beautiful, lush plants that was available to guests.
    • We paid CUC $25 per night for our room.
    • You can contact them on: Ph: (53) 41 998 484 or (53) 52 617 812; e: sarahisantander@gmail.com; http://casasarahi.webstoreinc.com/
  • Hostal Tito y Vicki, Mario Guerra (also known as Callejón de San Cayetano) 177, between Frank País and Jesús María
    • Tito and Vicky were our hosts here, along with their son. They spoke a bit of English, the son speaks enough to get by if you do not speak Spanish. They were all lovely and hospitable.
    • The house is a grand house with plush furniture and a huge fish tank in the living room. The rooms are huge and the beds are bigger than normal.
    • Our room had a small fridge, two large beds, air-conditioning and a big bathroom with a waterfall showerhead.
    • The hot water was consistent.
    • There was a lovely shaded balcony area for guests with tables, chairs, and plants.
    • We had our washing done here. I believe it would have been halved if we had put it all into one bag; as it was it cost us CUC $10 for two bags.
    • We didn’t have any meals here, nor did they offer, though I believe they would have cooked if we had asked. We are told they don’t enjoy cooking at this property.
    • We paid CUC $30 per night for our room, which was well worth it, particularly after our previous casa in Trinidad.
    • You can contact them on: Ph: (53) 41 993 952 or (53) 52 701 548; e: titoyvicky@yahoo.es; http://titovicky.trinidadhostales.com/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The beautiful, ornate ceiling at Hostal Tito y Vicki, Trinidad

 

Playa La Boca

  • Hostal Dos Leones, Avenida del Sol, Playa La Boca
    • We had Heidy and Rolando as our hosts. They were both extremely kind and caring, going out of their way to make our stay as relaxing and lovely as possible. Heidy speaks English but appreciates you speaking Spanish where you can. They have two children who are quiet and very sweet.
    • Heidy is one of the best cooks in Cuba, providing us with huge, healthy, delicious meals every morning and evening. Playa La Boca does not have anywhere to eat other than at your casa, except for one restaurant which sporadically serves food.
    • The house was a lovely, big, airy home with a beautiful, huge hut out the front under which we found three hammocks, along with two tables and chairs. This area always had a lovely breeze and we ate all of our meals here.
    • Our room was large, with a big double bed and a single bed, air conditioning, a fan, and a bathroom.
    • The hot water was consistent.
    • The house is a short walk to a nearby beach and within a few kilometres of nicer, sandy beaches. It is an 8km walk to Playa Ancón.
    • Speak to Rolando about snorkelling – he works at a snorkelling place about 3km from Playa La Boca, and was kind enough to give us a discount on our snorkel rental, as well as literally lending us the shoes off his feet to navigate the rocky ground leading up to the ocean.
    • Breakfast here was CUC $5 and came with not only fruit salad, eggs however you like them, bread, butter, jam, coffee, juice, and honey, but also homemade biscuits and cakes, wrapped up to take with you on your day’s adventures.
    • Dinner was CUC $12 per person per night, and was well worth it. Most nights we had a soup to start off with, followed by salad, rice, meat or fish of your choosing and potato chips, and every night we had Heidi’s delicious and unbeatable flan for dessert.
    • Overall, this was easily our favourite casa from our time in Cuba. If you’re headed to Trinidad, it’s well worth taking the short trip to Playa La Boca to stay a few nights at Hostal Dos Leones – we stayed 5 nights and we loved every minute!
    • We paid CUC $30 per night for our stay here.
    • You can contact them on: Ph: (53) 52 447 949 or (53) 52 816 591; e: rheidys35@nauta.cu

Staying in a casa particular is an excellent way to get more involved in the Cuban culture. You’ll meet more locals than you would staying in a hotel, eat more traditional Cuban food, learn more Spanish, and enjoy your time truly immersed in Cuba. We didn’t stay in any hotels, but I wouldn’t change that. We had the best time in Cuba, and you can always move to a new casa if you aren’t comfortable in the one you’re at – we did, and we’re glad! We highly recommend Hostal Dos Leones in Playa La Boca, and Casa Viel in Vedado, Havana. Of everywhere we stayed, these two casas were the most welcoming, kind-hearted and homely, and we hope to stay with them again one day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A typical Cuban casa – a rocking chair and a balcony – Casa Carusa, Havana Vieja

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s