Where to Stay in Cuba
Where to Stay in Cuba
State-operated hotel chains have the monopoly on prime areas on the island, such as La Habana Vieja. However, despite their prime locations, their quality and consistency is middling as compared to international chains.
Star ratings are leniently assigned, so it’s best to read guest reviews when considering your options. Islazul operates a budget hotel chain and their accommodations are quite poorly maintained, while Habagunex hotels are among the highest quality. Gran Caribe and Gaviota brands fall somewhere in between.
Choosing accommodations in Cuba often comes down to a single decision: hotel or casa particular. Since all accommodation options in Cuba generally fall within one of these two categories, deciding which way you want to go makes travel planning easy. Cuba’s hotels are run either by the government or by international corporations. In contrast, casas particulares are privately owned guest houses operated by the property owners.
Most international hotel chains operate as beach resorts, but tend to lie outside of the popular tourist areas. These chains are typically joint ventures with the Cuban government and have higher standards of quality and service than their state-run counterparts.
Unfortunately, most hotel websites in Cuba tend to be outdated, making the booking process a frustrating, if not impossible, endeavor. It’s best to use alternative sites, like AllTheRooms, to ensure a smooth and secure process.
Photo by Sputnik
“Casa particular” in Spanish translates to private house in English, and that is exactly what Cuban casas particulares are — privately owned and operated guesthouses that emerged as a way to meet tourist demand and provide a means of income for locals.
You can spot a casa particular by the sign bearing a blue, horizontal “H” that resembles an anchor. Houses with red Hs are reserved for nationals.
While these accommodations are not generally found on beachfronts, they are a quaint alternative to the bustling hotel chains and a great option for an authentic experience in Cuba. In a casa particular, you are essentially staying with a Cuban family as their guest.
Some of the basic amenities you can expect are separate bathrooms, towels, sheets, air conditioning and kitchens. Most casas also offer meals at a reasonable cost, which is a great way to get a taste of the local cuisine.
These houses charge anywhere from $15-$35 a night depending on the season. Pro tip: you can negotiate a lower rate for long-term stays.
Cuban guest houses tend to be a safe option because they are an important source of income for the families.