view of Havana city skyline from Centro

Hotels in Cuba: A Guide for Americans

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If you’re a U.S. citizen planning a trip to Cuba, you may be confused about how to book hotels in Cuba, and which hotels to consider. Between the Support for the Cuban People travel guidelines and restrictions on certain hotels, it can be hard to find clear answers about where you can and can’t book a stay. But don’t despair! You’ve come to the right place. 

This guide will detail everything you need to know about where to find the best lodging options, which hotels are off-limits for U.S. citizens, and what to expect when from the moment you book to the day you arrive. Plus, links to our meticulously curated lists of favorites! 

The Hotel Scene in Cuba

Cuba is an international tourism destination with many different lodging options for visiting travelers. In all of the major cities and beach destinations, you’ll find a mix of international hotel and resort chains and privately owned accommodations (sometimes referred to as casas particulares) which take the form of boutique hotels, family-run bed and breakfasts and independent apartments for rent. 

Anyone who knows anything about Cuba will tell you to stay at privately owned lodging over the large hotels. Why? Not only are many large hotels off-limits for U.S. citizens—see below—they are also notorious for high prices, lack of cleanliness, and poor service all around.

Privately owned hotels and guesthouses offer much better value—lower prices and excellent hospitality at many different price points, from luxury to budget conscious.

Sites like Expedia.com, Airbnb, and Hotels.com list private lodging options for Cuba with clear photos and customer reviews, making it easy for U.S. travelers to safely and securely and make online bookings. 

Confused about visas? Allow us to explain.

Our mission is to provide clear, accurate information on Cuba travel for Americans. Check out our article on visas or visit our site for more!

Prohibited Hotels for Americans

Many of the largest hotels in Cuba are off limits for U.S. citizens because of U.S. laws that prohibit Americans from supporting companies owned or operated by the Cuban government.

The U.S. government publishes a list of hotels and other Cuban companies that are restricted for Americans. If you’re planning a trip under “Support for the Cuban People” or any of the other legal travel categories, you should avoid staying at the hotels on this list. 

Fortunately, authorized lodging options are plentiful. Any privately owned hotel, B&B, or vacation rental is perfectly legal for a U.S. traveler to stay in. Booking privately owned accommodations is also a great way for travelers to support the local economy in addition to ensuring the trip falls within U.S. travel restrictions.

Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels provide the highest level of luxury for travelers visiting the island. Mostly located in Havana, these privately owned properties usually have a small number of rooms and operate like a hotel—with a front desk, daily room cleaning, concierge, and other services. Many also have restaurants and bars on site.

And while rates can be pricey, they provide the best experience of any of the lodging options on the island.  Plus, since they’re privately owned, you can be sure you’re supporting a local Cuban business. To explore our favorites, check out our guide to the best boutique hotels in Havana

Bed & Breakfasts

You may have heard the term casa particular when researching accommodations in Cuba and wondered what the term means. A casa particular is just like a bed and breakfast, with multiple private rooms in an actual Cuban residence, each with their own private bathroom. 

Typically, the home has several guest rooms, common areas for optional meals and other activities, and is run by a local family or small staff. It’s like a cozy, more family-run hotel.

Havana and most cities across the island have tons of options—check out our list of our favorites in Havana

Full Apartment and Home Rentals

If you’re looking for more independence, you may want to explore apartments and full home rentals. There are a scores of options in Havana and the major cities across the island, and in all sizes and at all price levels. 

Independent rentals typically feature kitchens for cooking, but usually still offer optional breakfast for a small surcharge (just like at a B&B). We highly recommend this option, as restaurants that offer breakfast are few and far between, and supermarkets don’t have much variety. 

As you might expect, we’ve made a list of our favorite large (3+ bedroom) and small (1-2 bedroom) apartment rentals in Havana to share with you! 

You’ll find lots of great independent rental options on Expedia and Hotels.com.

Booking Lodging? Taxis? Activities? Restaurants?

Our mission is to provide expert advice on Cuba travel for Americans. Our private business guide connects you directly to Cuban shops, restaurants, hotels, activities, and more!

From Booking to Arrival: What to Expect

If you book accommodations through Airbnb, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, or another U.S. based site, you’ll complete an extra step in the booking process. You’ll be asked you to declare your reason for travel, with a list of options corresponding to the 12 legal categories of travel for U.S. citizens. We recommend that you select Support for the Cuban People. Regardless of which you choose, this information isn’t meant to be an official declaration and isn’t shared with anyone. 

Once your booking is complete your host will typically contact you to confirm arrival times and share information about getting to the house. Even small family run B&Bs typically offer to have a trusted taxi service pick you up at the airport. The price is often slightly more than if you were to hail a taxi, but for many travelers the convenience is worth the few extra dollars. 

The transfer from Havana’s airport takes around 30-40 minutes depending on where in Havana your accommodations are located. If you can handle diesel fumes, feel free to hail an American made relic or boxy Russian Lada. If you’re more of an AC and seatbelts type, go for any vehicle that looks like it was made in the past 30 years. 

When you arrive at your hotel you’ll likely be asked for your passport by the concierge or host—don’t be alarmed! Hosts are required to record passport information to comply with Cuban laws. Otherwise, you should expect nothing less than great Cuban hospitality. 

Documents You’ll Need

Before you take off, make sure you have a valid passport with plenty of time until it expires. You’ll also need to have your Cuba visa and a completed online customs form within 72 hours prior to your departure. 

The Cuban government also requires visitors to have proof of health insurance coverage, but if you book a flight on a U.S. airline, the required insurance is included in the price of your ticket. This insurance gives you access to Cuba’s network of tourist hospitals and clinics should you need them. 

If your flight originates outside of the United States, you can purchase insurance independently or pay a small fee for access to Cuba’s tourist system. 

More Cuba Travel Tips

Our team is dedicated to helping U.S. travelers plan safe, legal, independent Cuba travel. In addition to our curated maps, we offer free phone consultations, customizable itineraries (coming soon) and helpful guides and articles

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