The hurricane Irma in 2017 was a hard blow for island of Cuba. It consequently affected the tourism activity as it is actually a very important source of income for the territory. After discussion with the local population, we understand it took about 6 months after the hurricane for the island to recover and see the tourists come back to Cuba. It was a considerable loss of income for anyone who take part to the tourism activity in Cuba, this includes the owners of the “casas particulares”.
What’s called “casa particular“?
The spanish term of “casa particular” can be litteraly translated to “private house”. Indeed, Cubans put their houses to accommodate travellers for short or long-term stay. So, travellers actually stay at someone’s house. The owners rent their rooms that they arrange and decorate to make the travellers stay comfortable and pleasant. A room usually comes with a bedding for 3 to 4 people even if the number of guests is less. It then makes it a good option for a family travelling. The equipment of the rooms vary from a casa particular to another. Same thing for the the services. Most owners offer to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the guests. They charge on average :
- CUC 5 for breakfast
- CUC 10 for lunch / dinner.
A direct competition to hotels
Because the development of tourism is still recent in Cuba, the current hotels offer does not fully meet the demand.
The Cubans have come up with the initiative to put their houses to accommodate the travellers. This constitutes a direct competition to hotels. The comfort and equipment offered by the casas particulares is variable but the main interest of choosing a casa particular as option of accommodation is it remains in general cheaper than staying at a hotel.
Also the activity is fully legal and recognised by the Cuban government. By the way, just like in a hotel, you will be asked your passport upon arrival by the owners and to sign a guest register. This is the regular procedure.
This alternative is clearly a useful solution that help not only the travellers but the Cubans themselves allowing them to be some sort of entrepreneurs and create a source of income for themselves.
How to book a casa particular?
Speaking of my personal experience, I only used Airbnb to book all the casas particulares I stayed at around Cuba. If you sort out your itinerary ahead, Airbnb is a popular and reliable option to book your accommodation in Cuba. Once your booking is confirmed, make sure you have with the complete address . Also the final price may include some service fees depending on the accommodation chosen ( different from the booking fee). I personally trusted the reviews to book my accommodations .
Also, it is possible to book a casa particular on spot if you prefer to wait to be there to see the accommodation by yourself. One thing good to know is that the casas particulares approved by the government will display this logo “Arrendador Divisa” .
Human contact is very easy in Cuba and people are approachable. If you ask someone for a casa particular, there are strong chances they know someone who owns one or they may be an owner themselves. But you should be able to recognise these local accommodations looking for this logo. However, booking a casa particular on spot is usually more expensive than booking one in advance, from CUC 25 / night.
Some of them may have been approved by Trip Advisor. They will display the Trip Advisor certificate of excellence on the front door.
I was very satisfied with my choice of casas particulares around Cuba . Please see below a list of tested and approved casas particulares with some comments.
|Santa Marta, Varadero||Casa Sandra||Pasaje D #1114
Entre 11 y 12
Santa Marta, Varadero
|The property is not located in Varadero but in Santa Marta. It takes about 5 minutes to get to Varadero using the local transportation.
Hosted by Sandra, she welcomes you with a local juice and gives precious tips upon arrival plus a map to go around Varadero. She speaks very good English and recommend the good places to eat around.
|Santa Clara||Buen Viaje 157||157
Entre La Cruz y Río, Santa Clara, Villa Clara
|Excellent location close to all the points of interest in the city. The hosts are Danay and her husband. She speaks good English, is very caring and dynamic. She knows all the good restaurants around and can arrange excursions to city of Remedios and Cayo Santa Maria.|
|Trinidad||Sol Trinidad||254, Calle Desengaño
|The host is Cirenay. She is super dynamic! The property is located 2 minutes walk from the main square. The location is quite good if you want to enjoy the nightlife in Trinidad to go back walking.|
|Cienfuegos||Hostal Fronton Room 1||Calle 39 #4626
Entre 46 y 48
|Great location 2 minutes walk from the main avenue that leads to the city center. Lissete Maria, the host is kind and helpful with organising excursions around Cienfuegos or booking a taxi collectivo.|
|Havana||Hostal Loy||Factoria 215
Entre Mision y Arsenal
|Hosted by Marianela and Wilfredo, they offer a big room that can accommodate up to 3 pax. The property is located in the district of Habana Vieja close to the Capitole, about 5 minutes walk. They’ll treat you like family especially if you are a solo traveller.|
|Viñales||Villa Natali||Calle A #24
Entre Tercera y Final,
El Palmar, Viñales
|Located 10 minutes walk from the city center, it’s a beautiful villa with an outstanding view on the valley. Jorge Alberto and his family deliver their best for you to have an unforgettable stay. His English is excellent. He can also arrange up to 20 excursions around. His casa particular received the Trip Advisor certificate of excellence.|
The benefits of staying at a casa particular
If you travel with a small budget and want to save money on the accommodation, staying at a casas particulares is right for you. That is also the opportunity to experience a real local hospitality. Cubans barely speak English but we appreciate they make a lot of effort to be understood . If you can speak Spanish, it will make a whole difference to your experience in Cuba, when staying at casas particulares. It is very enjoyable to share friendliness moment with the locals,especially to listen to them on how they live in Cuba and what it means to them. Of course, because you are staying at someone’s house some rules apply. But from my experience, Cubans are very easy-going. I did not face any issue with any of the owners and they did not mind me coming back home very late at night. Quite the reverse, we have bonded and will be in touch.
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I am Isabelle, main writer behind this blog, travel & tourism professional. I guess if you are here, you have a strong interest in travel like me. The purpose of Extramilist Travel Blog is to share my travel experiences with you, tips and recommendations.
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