Stay in a Casas Particular (private house) in Habana Viejo or Centro for a real Cuban experience and to put money back into the local community rather than a government-run hotel which looks grand but lacks atmosphere – here’s just five that come highly recommended by myself and other travellers.
Prices for these range from CUC $30 to $50 a night so very reasonable. You’ll meet other travellers and local families if you’re the sociable type plus be bang in the middle of atmospheric Havana
- Casa El Encinar, Habana Vieja (I stayed here this time) Located in the old town on Chacon No 60 Altos between Cuba and Aguair, perfect for a first-timer, and extremely atmospheric while providing everything you need (no wi-fi hotspot here or in any of these – see first time guide). Eight great en-suite rooms with shared living room/kitchen areas and a lovely terrace, complete with pond, high in the rooftops of Havana overlooking La Cabana Fort. Breakfast is provided, Cuban-style with a nod to international tastes at the communal dining table.
- Casa Peregrino Consulado, Habana Centro Big sister to El Encinar and run by the same family – Julio and Elsa Roque – who run a number of accommodations. This is HQ and I was put on the phone to Peregrino several times from El Encinar and offered help in English – they will organise trips, transfers and help at considerably lower costs than elsewhere. Three rooms available, I couldn’t get in here so book in advance. These people know their stuff. Located between Colon and Trocadero and includes breakfast.
- Jesus and Maria, Habana Vieja. This is an even more Cuban experience, you are literally staying in someone’s home, rooms are clean and have everything you need, I am reliably informed. Again breakfast in provided and there is a comfortable terrace. Located between Sol and Muralla, so perfect for a walking tour of the old town.
- Casa de Pepe and Rafaela, Habana Vieja. An Instagrammers bright-yellow dream of a colonial home with beautiful interior, just two rooms available and fellow travellers had a wonderful time. Again family-run. San Ignacio No 454, between Sol and Santa Clara.
- Casa Colonial del 1715, Habana Vieja. There are just three rooms at this lovely casa in Calle Lamparilla which boasts a memorable green exterior, a nice patio and a reputation for cleanliness and great breakfasts for its visitors. Situated between Acuagate and Compestel.
For a fine local knowledge and to tailor the trip you want travel with Cuba Direct, who only deal with Cuba and know what they are doing – plus they are extremely helpful.
READ MORE ABOUT CUBA:
15 things first time visitors to Cuba need to know
Havana, a city of beautiful imperfections – my first impressions