Airbnb in Cuba
How to book a Casa Particular on Airbnb
We traveled to Cuba for two weeks in the beginning of a January 2017. Along the way we've met a lot of travelers and most of them haven't had any accommodation reservations and they were sorting it out on the go. A lot of people do that- only book the first night in advance, and the rest of the sleepovers arrange with the host of the first house they stayed in. Most of the hosts have friends and families across the country and they will be glad to help you find a new place to stay. However, when I'm traveling, I'd like to have my accommodation sorted out, making sure it's in a walkable proximity to the desired locations so I don't need to stress or worry about it.
Cuba is becoming a very popular tourist destination, I was told by the Cuban that last year in Vinales during the high season some tourists were sleeping on the benches of the town squares- all the hotels and casas were booked and filled. Generally, if you like to be flexible and go with the flow, you'd like to decide where you want to go on the spot and feel how many days each place really deserves- that option is definitely possible in Cuba as many people are doing it that way.
But I've warned you :)
For the whole of the two weeks, we rented Casa Particular- a room in a private Cuban homes. We booked all of our accommodation via Airbnb, but there are a couple of things you need to know:
Of course, you need to plan the trip ahead and think how many days you might need in each city/location. That will depend on what you want to do, and I will share more in another post about the places we've visited.
How to book a Casa Particular
Casa Particular is a private house of a local Cuban which has got a license to rent out rooms to the tourists. 35 CUC per night is the average that we paid during this trip. Accommodation in Havana was a little more expensive than in other cities.
Be aware: when booking accommodation via Airbnb, sometimes the person who you contacting is actually not in Cuba, but that person acts on the behalf of Cuban host- don't be scared of this fact, that's totally safe. Since the Casa Particular is the private home of a native Cuban and the internet is not available in most private houses, in some cases, the person who runs a page on Airbnb usually is a relative or a close friend of the host. Once you complete a booking- it is 100% reserved and the hosts are waiting for you. Some of the Cuban hosts, who run the Airbnb listing themselves don't speak English and they reply to you in Spanish. The google translator comes in handy. In the period of two weeks, as we moved across the island we stayed in 6 different apartments - all booked via Airbnb. Once the booking is confirmed you can ask your host any questions. It's a good idea to ask them to book a taxi transfer from/to the airport (30CUC per car). The hosts are very friendly and helpful.
TIP: once you get the accommodation sorted, print out the exact address, Host's name and a phone number. It will be immensely helpful if the taxi driver is not able to find the address.
Is it safe to rent a room at Casa Particular?
Living at Casa Particular is giving you a glimpse of how the locals live and interact on a daily basis. I find it fascinating. The rented room has a lock, so it's safe to leave your belongings during the stay. All of our rooms had 2 beds, clean bed linen, our own shower and toilet with the basic toiletries- a soap/shower gel, shampoo, toilet paper. The main living room and patios are shared with other guest and the hosts.
What's for breakfast?
All hosts offer breakfast, typically that is eggs, bread, fruits, coffee and it costs 5CUC per person.
Some would offer home-made dinner, that is typically around 10-15 CUC per person
How to check in?
Every time you check-in in the new apartment, the host will ask for your passport. That's a legal requirement as the host needs to keep a book of visitors. It takes only 5 minutes and that's a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the host
TIP: bring some souvenirs with you- they will be beyond grateful.
What to see in Cuba?
At this point, your accommodation is sorted, flights are booked, you got the visa and the insurance. The only question is which cities do you go to visit?