Forget all about the boutique hotels! Cuba has much better to offer you: the casas particulares. A unique concept of 100% Cuban hospitality. An invitation to stay with the locals in simple houses or beautiful private residences. It is a unique opportunity for a guaranteed slice of local life.
Private hotel or Casa Particular?
Private hotels do not exist in Cuba (the hotel sector is owned or managed by the State). However, there is an equivalent of a boutique hotel: the casas particulares. In other words, the guest house or bed & breakfast formula. You will stay with the locals for your greatest happiness! You will have access to the Cuban daily life. You will be in direct contact with your hosts who sometimes live on the spot or just next door. This is the easiest and most efficient way to get in touch with the local population. A real immersion that makes you privileged.
How to recognize a casa particular?
By casa particular we mean accommodation in a private house or in the home of the local people. The activity of casas particulares requires a license which is indicated for each accommodation by a blue logo (see photo). When the logo is red, it means that the license only allows the accommodation to receive Cubans and not foreign tourists.
Where are the casas particulares
The license required for casas particulares is issued by the state. The main cities for which the state grants this license are: Havana, Viñales, Trinidad, Camaguey, Varadero, Santa Clara, Holguin, Baracoa, Santiago, Cienfuegos, Remedios.
What are the categories?
The offer of these licenses is very disparate. It goes from the simple casa particular in the inhabitant’s house to the exceptional colonial house with a high quality service, an elegant residence having belonged to owners of the high society before the revolution. This is the case of Casa la Reserva or La Casona for example. The prices are in line with the level of service.
How to choose?
Sleeping in a home represents a unique opportunity to stay in exceptional places. This privilege remains very accessible. You can stay in casas that belonged to wealthy owners before the revolution at a very reasonable price, such as Casa Kerida, Casa Quizas in Havana, Casa Lemes in Trinidad.
It is important to choose your room and your neighborhood according to the degree of calm and comfort you desire. Most of the accommodation is located in the city. There are few casas on the coast (even if you can find some in Varadero). In Cayo Levisa or Cayo Saetia, you can also find some small structures.
How does it work?
The casas particulares work like a hotel in the sense that you have to check in and check out, breakfast is often included. Depending on the casa, you can also have your other meals there, table d’hôtes formula. This is an opportunity to taste traditional family cuisine. There is also often a bar area where your hosts will be happy to serve you a home-made cocktail. The accommodation can be rented entirely or by rooms.
Sheets and linens are provided. The bathroom can sometimes be shared.
Rooms are equipped with a fan or air conditioning.
In general there is no wifi. Please ask the owner directly. Connections are often not free.
Swimming pools are very rare. Only the houses that had one before the revolution are still allowed to have one today.
It is not possible to use the kitchen to prepare your own meals unless you have rented the whole house.
Most of the owners have some knowledge of English and some speak French.