HAVANA, July 14 For the past few years, locals in Cuba have been able to open their own businesses, leading to the increase in fantastic casas particulares and restaurants serving great food.
A casa particular is basically a homestay, and in Cuba, this type of accommodation is more popular than hotels or hostels. There’s no better way to learn about the country than from locals, and being fully immersed in their homes is the best way to enrich your trip to this Caribbean nation.
These casas are affordable (think $20-$30 a night), and most of the time (if not all), you’ll have your own private area with bathroom. Breakfast and dinner are available for a fee, and to be honest, some of the best dinners we had in Cuba were at the casas.
If you speak Spanish, your experience will be just that much more memorable than those of us whose Spanish is limited. No matter your abilities with the local language, you’ll still be able to get by and many of the owners actually speak English. There are hundreds of casas available in Cuba, but here are the ones that we booked through Hostels Club and can recommend from our three-and-a-half week trip to Cuba:
Havana – Casa Daniel y Fina (aka Casa Habana Blues 1940)
This is the very first place we stayed when we got to Cuba, and we returned there before flying out of Havana. The owners Daniel and Fina are incredibly kind and welcoming. The casa is located in Central Havana and is beautiful. The ceilings are 16 feet high, and there are four rooms available for travelers (each with its own private, air conditioning and attached bathroom). There’s a dining and living area, as well as a kitchen and fridge available for guest use.
Daniel and Fina actually live right across the hall in their own home, allowing the travelers to have their own space. Breakfast and dinner are available ($4 for breakfast and $10 for dinner) and the food is delicious.
Vinales – Casa Boris y Mileidi
It seems like every homeowner in this valley rents out at least one of their rooms to tourists, and there are over 100 to choose from! We recommend Casa Boris y Mileidi because they were friendly, Mileidi speaks some English (and so does her son), the location is great, and the food cooked here was delicious. There are currently two rooms available for rent, with another two being built this summer.
The rooms have air conditioning and two beds each with a private bathroom. There’s an upper deck area with chairs and a table, and a lower chill-out area as well. Dinner here costs $7 a meal.
Trinidad – Casa Bernardo and Casa Mirelis
We stayed at these two casas during our stay in Trinidad and loved them both. Casa Bernardo is run by a very kind man, who is also an excellent cook! We had lobster, snapper, and chicken complete with curried chickpeas, roasted vegetables, rice, fried plantain and, flan for dessert. The meal was fantastic.
There are three rooms available for rent right now, and he is building another one. We stayed on the upper level and had two big outside decks to ourselves, with fantastic views of the mountains and of the city. Rooms here are spacious, bright, and have air conditioning, two beds, a private bathroom and fridge in each one.
Casa Mirelis is a beautiful home, run by a bubbly Mirelis and her husband Edilberto. Currently there are two gorgeous rooms available, with three more on the way. The lower level room even has its own separate living area and kitchen! The upstairs room is bright and spacious and has two big beds. Both come with air conditioning and attached private bathroom.
Food is also available here, as is reliable door-to-door taxi service from Trinidad to Havana. You can also have your laundry done at this casa!
Cienfuegos – Hostal El Patio del Gitano
Ivet and Joel are the owners of this hostal (which is the same as a casa), and they are vibrant, kind, and welcoming. They are a very creative pair, with both being singers and running the Flamenco cultural center out of their home. Ivet is also a painter, while Joel is a musician, dancer, and chef. They’re quite the couple!
They only have one room available for rent here, which really gives you a one-on-one experience with these Cubans. If you’re lucky enough to be in Cienfuegos on a Sunday, you’ll be able to experience traditional Flamenco dancing, singing, music, and poetry at their house.
Not only is this a great experience with the family, and the private room is spacious and nice, but also the food here is top-notch, authentic Spanish cuisine (or Cuban if you choose). People come from around the city just to eat here, even if they’re not staying there. There’s a huge menu with a beautiful back patio area where you can enjoy your meal. This casa is located right near the bus station, and a short 10-minute walk to the main central area.