Where to Stay in Cuba: Homestays, Hostels & Hotels

Sure, you can stay at hotels and resorts, but why not support a local family, and have a richer travel experience? Our partners Goats on the Road share their essential tips on how to book accommodation in Cuba.

Cuba is an interesting destination for numerous reasons, but one particularly unique experience that Cuba offers is the chance to stay in a casa particular – a local homestay.

Casas Particulares (Private Homes)

It may sound a bit strange to show up at someone’s home, knock on their door and drop your bags off in one of their rooms. But, in Cuba it’s more normal than it sounds!

In 1997, the Government announced that Cubans could register their homes as privately-run businesses. Since then, locals have been renting out their rooms to foreigners.

Flamenco dancer at a casa in Cienfuegos. Photo credit: Goats on the Road

Typically with casa stays, the owner will live next door, upstairs, or down the road.

These homes are set up for having travelers stay in them. You’ll find anywhere from one to five private rooms, many of which have an attached bathroom.

Each room will usually have air-conditioning for those hot nights and some basic furniture. Sometimes there will be a kitchen in the home that you can use, and there will also be a common area.

Casa Particulars are set up more like guesthouses than home stays, but the owners are there to make you feel like family. You can party with the owners, have dinner with them (or a cigar!), or, just say hello and enjoy a quieter stay.

They are around if you need anything, or if you want to talk to them, but they also give you privacy and space.

If you have any particular needs or requests for your casa (such as English-speaking hosts), make sure those are met before reserving a room.

To book your stay, check out websites such as CasaHavanaParticular.com, HostelsClub.com and HostelWorld.com. And, you can now book a room in a casa, or an entire casa, online with Airbnb.com, but keep in mind you must pay a service fee with this option.

Some Things to Know

  • Check out the reviews from other travelers before you book your room. You can check reviews on the booking platforms directly, and also on TripAdvisor.com.
  • The Wi-Fi situation in Cuba is a bit frustrating and time-consuming, so if you know which cities you want to visit during your trip, you can book all of your rooms ahead of time in your home country, rather than trying to find Wi-Fi in Cuba to book your rooms as you go.
  • When you’re in Cuba, you can also ask your casa to call or email the next one you’re considering staying at. If it’s low season, this option is OK, but leaving your accommodation until the day before isn’t a great idea in the high / shoulder season.
Casa common area in Vinales. Photo credit: Goats on the Road

Hostels

In Cuba, there aren’t really any “hostels” in the traditional sense.

A hostel typically has lots of dorm beds, a communal kitchen, a backpacker vibe and activities available on the cheap. In Cuba, expect to find more B&B’s, homestays and casas, as opposed to hostels.

Recently, many of the casas have started listing their properties on websites like HostelWorld.com, but if you’re looking for a true “hostel” stay, you may be disappointed.

If you would prefer to stay in an actual hostel, there are a few available around Havana, but in reality, the only difference between them and a casa is that they have bunk beds!

Check out Hostal Habana Nilda Backpackers (8 bed mixed dorm, $10.80 / night), CubaBackpackers 1 (6 bed mixed dorm, $9.70 / night) or Hostel Casa de Ania (6 bed mixed dorm, $10.80 / night).

Hotels

For a more luxurious stay, check-in to one of the many hotels, which are state-run rather than owned by individual Cubans.

Keep in mind that by staying at hotels, you are putting your money into the government, rather than into the pockets of hard-working and well-deserving Cuban business owners.

There are a few iconic hotels in Cuba that you may want to stay at, or at least pop in to have a look.

The elegant National Hotel in Vedado, Havana has been welcoming guests since the 1930’s. Some notable names who have stayed include Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner.

Also in Havana is Hotel Saratoga. With its neoclassical architecture and recent restoration, this gorgeous hotel has attracted the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z.

To book a hotel in Cuba, you can visit Trivago.com or Expedia.com, and as of 2016, you can now book some hotels on the popular booking engine Booking.com.

Keep in mind that these historic hotels come with a hefty price tag (upwards of $300 / night). Yet another reason to stay at casa particulars!

Heading to Cuba? Download our FREE Insider’s Guide!

Put down the cigars and step out of the vintage cars! Explore historical sites of revolution, taste peso food, or go diving among vibrant marine life.

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2 Comments

  • Neil Johnston said

    How are transfers in Cuba? Are they bookable and reliable?

  • Jesus said

    For sure the best way to experience authentic Cuba is staying in Casas particulares. you can find lot of great offers even 50% cheaper than hotels. and they are also best located inside the city.

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