cuba

Lodging in Cuba

 

There are three main options for lodging in Cuba: casa particulares, resorts, and hotels. Each have pros and cons outlined below as well as how to book them.  

 

Casa Particulares

Casa particulares are private homestays in Cuba. They provide an experience similar to staying in an Airbnb or at a bed and breakfast. Most travelers to Cuba stay in casa particulares for a local experience and because hotels and resorts in Cuba are very expensive because there aren't enough hotel rooms to fulfill demand.  

 

Pros

  • You get a real sense of Cuban neighborhoods, everyday local life, and culture. 
  • You are supporting local Cubans directly.  
  • The food at casas particulares is often cheaper and tastier than the food at restaurants.  
  • The average casa in Havana is $45/night and $25/night elsewhere in Cuba.
  • You are allowed kitchen access for cooking your own meals in casas particulares. 
  • Your hosts will give you local, insider recommendations for things to do. 
  • You'll have local support making reservations for dinner, taxi rides or other excursions.

Cons

  • It's best to confirm a casa around 48 hours in advance because sometimes hosts will give your reservation to the first person physically in the door on the day you reserverd. Confirming 24-48 hours in advance helps prevent this.  Don't worry, though, you'll always have a bed to sleep in because the casa community is tight-knit and if they give away your reservation they always find you a place to stay that's equivalent.  
  • Not all casas have air conditioning, but most do have bedroom units.
  • Beds in casas often have thin or too-soft mattresses that are less comfortable than hotel beds.  

How to Book

To book a casa directly, including on the go, download the Cuba Junky app. From here, you can easily search their directory and contact casas via email or phone, usually getting a cheaper price than you'd find elsewhere.

About 60% of casas are listed on Airbnb and this is a great way to pay for your casa ahead of time. Plus, the Airbnb site is very user friendly.


Other Details

All legal casas have a little blue sign posted outside with the words Arrendador Divisa, which helps you find them. 

 
All casa owners are going to need your passport number for the first night, which they take to the Tourism Ministry.  Generally, a copy of your passport is sufficient to give them, this way you can hold on to your passport.  

 

Resorts

Most of the beach destinations in Cuba have nice resorts and this is where you'll find the luxury accommodations in Cuba.  The most popular resort spots are Holguin, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo del Sur, and Cayo Santa Maria. 

 

 

Pros

  • Most resorts are all-inclusive so your meals are included.
  • Direct beach access on some of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba.
  • Most resorts have staff that speak excellent English.
  • Most have air conditioning and a lockbox for valuables.
  • A maid will clean your room daily.
  • You can often exchange money at resorts.
  • You can reserve ahead of time and pay with credit card at the counter, except for Americans whose credit cards won't work in Cuba due to the embargo. 
  • The resort standards are on par with many resorts around the world and they are often surprisingly cheaper than many of the nicer hotels in Havana.

Cons

  • Internet access usually costs $5-15 per hour. 
  • Your exposure to the Cuban locals and culture will be limited. 

How to Book

Trivago seems to have the best inventory of hotels in Cuba.  


Many resorts in Cuba are run by the Melia chain and can be reserved through their site. 


Hotels

Hotels in Cuba are a bit different than hotels in other parts of the world, but they can be a good option.

Pros

  • Most have a front desk clerk that speaks English and who can answer practical questions and help arrange taxis.
  • Most have air conditioning and a lockbox for valuables.
  • A maid will clean your room daily.
  • You can usually exchange money at the front desk of hotels.
  • You can reserve ahead of time and everyone except Americans can pay with credit card at the counter.

Cons

  • The hotel standards in Cuba are much lower than in North America or Europe.  A 4-star hotel in Cuba generally equates to a 2-star hotel elsewhere.
  • Hotels often cost 5+ times what an equivalent casa particular costs.  A nice hotel in Havana will run you $300-600/night for a standard room.  
  • The beds can often be hard and uncomfortable.
  • The usually internet costs $5-15 per hour to use.

How to Book

With many hotels, including the Melia chain, you can book direct on their website or via email.  


Cuba Travel Network and Trivago have the best inventory of hotels in Cuba.  

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