Havana’s hotel accommodations are expensive and have a mixed reputation, to put it mildly. The city’s casas particulares on the other hand — private rooms or full apartments rented by Cuban owner/hosts a la Airbnb — are reasonably priced, professionally managed, and come in all sorts of varieties of size, location and price.
Staying in a casa is a the best way to interact with locals and get a feel for a real Cuban home, and booking a couple different ones during your stay is also a great way to explore Havana’s many neighborhoods and see the less touristy, more authentic Cuba. As an added bonus, you’ll be helping a small family business in Cuba, not a big hotel company.
On my latest visit, just for fun, I booked at four different casas in Havana, each with it’s own flavor and at a fraction of the price of a hotel room with equivalent comfort level, location, and hospitality. If you’re planning a trip and you like any of these, feel free to book directly with them — there are links to Airbnb as well as other contact methods. If you want to see what else is out there, head over to Airbnb — there are lots to choose from at all price ranges.
Location: Centro (Havana)
Located just a block off the regal Paseo del Prado which separates Old and Centro Habana, Casa Meyly is ideal for travelers who want to take in the city on foot. The areas immediately surrounding include Old Havana, the Capitol, and the Malecón making for easily walkable exploration in almost any direction, and even the nightlife district of downtown Vedado is only about a 20 minute walk away. Cuban host Landy is a friendly, entrepreneurial local who rents four rooms in the building, two suites with private bathrooms, and two private rooms that share a kitchen, dining room, and spotless bathroom with hot/cold water. The room I stayed in (pictured) had a comfy bed, terrific (and utterly silent) A/C, and a charming balcony from which to people watch. And Landy doesn’t mess around — he provides a delicious, ample breakfast on the covered rooftop patio (5 CUC) at guests request. It’s a clean, simple, elegant operation (but not basic), and everything you need to have an amazing time in the city.
Owner/Host: Landy Morales Address: Calle Consulado #203 between Animas and Trocadero, Centro Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: +53 5463 3090 Bookings:Airbnb, Facebook
Su Casa 365
Location: Santos Suárez (Havana)
I’ll admit I had never spent much time in Santos Suárez, a neighborhood about 10 minutes south of Old Havana by taxi and decidedly less bustling. In fact, walking around the neighborhood, which is almost entirely residential and quite safe) there is a refreshing lack of tourists — I only saw one other person who didn’t look like a local. The neighborhood has plenty of character and history — it was where the rich city folk built spacious second country homes in the early days of the Spanish colony — and still has stunning architectural finds, as well as the crumbling Loma del Chaple nearby to the southeast.
The house is beautiful and the hosts are lovely — a family of biologists with various sub-specialties — who started renting with trepidation not long ago, but have earned a great reputation on Airbnb, and deservedly so. Georgina, the matriarch of the family, is a wealth of information on things to see locally and the various options for getting to the Capitolio and other centers of activity in the city. Fortunately, even though the house is a bit removed from the action of Havana’s more well-known neighborhoods, there are two bus lines that stop a block away, so coming and going is quite easy and inexpensive for a traveler on a budget. There is also a local money exchange office nearby and a wonderful agromercado across the street where a delicious selection of fruits and vegetables are sold in local CUP currency (i.e. very inexpensive). Breakfast, not to be overlooked, is a delicious array: omelette, fresh juice, coffee, tea, fruit, and Cuban sweet pastries.
Owner/Host: Georgina Michelena
Address: Calle General Lee #365, between Maiya Rodriguez and Goucuria
Located a convenient 5 minutes walking from the Plaza de la Revolución, this casa is quiet, comfortable, and convenient for exploring Vedado. Mary (the owner of the house) and her daughter Irene recently began renting two independent rooms each with a private bathroom. One is a large room with three beds and the other is more of a suite with a bedroom, bathroom, and a beautiful private patio surrounded by foliage. The rooms are immaculate and comfortable, and the patio is a nice place for an AM coffee or PM drink. It’s an easy walk to Colón Cemetery, the fantastic paladar Starbien, and the many shops and restaurants on Calle 23. Coffee in the morning was delicious and Mary Irene are hospitable and friendly.
Owner/Host: Irene Díaz
Address: Calle A #707 Apt. 1 between 29 and Zapata, Vedado
Like Casa Meyly, Casa Aby is perfectly located within a few blocks of Paseo del Prado, the Capitol, and the Malecón. It’s a great home base for walks in almost any direction, and close to Neptuno, a main thoroughfare of Centro and the true frenetic, chaotic, beating heart of the city, connecting Parque Central with the University (a solid 20 minute trip on foot). Aby is Cuban but lives part-time in Switzerland — he and his daughter Anisley rent out several spotless private rooms in the building, each with their own unique charm (and each with private bathroom). Several rooms have beautiful little balconies where two people can sit and enjoy a coffee and people watch. Breakfast was plentiful, air conditioning quiet and powerful, and my host Jaime was attentive and friendly.
Owner/Host: Aby and Anisley
Address: Calle Amistad 159 between Neptuno and Virtudes, Centro
La Llave del Golfo is the version of casa particular that edges much more toward the boutique end, and it’s location in the dense geographic center of Havana, in the neighborhood of Santo Suárez, and makes staying there feel like the a secret discovery completely off the tourist radar. The property, which has remained in […]
The Paseo (@the.paseo) is not just another penthouse rental vying for your attention, nor is it a “penthouse” in the way they are often imagined — opulent for the sake of being opulent, a trophy for wealthy show offs. Au contraire, this two room home is one of the most stylish and understated that I’ve […]
Gloria and Jesús Castro (no relation to Fidel), are the owners of a second floor apartment on Calle Compostela in Old Havana with 5 bedrooms, high cielings, balconies, and antique Italian tiles. Jesús still works his day job at a state hardware store, but the couple spend much of their time dedicated to the business […]
A blog about travel, design, architecture, food, art, and undiscovered secrets in Havana and beyond.