casa particular in Vedado, Havana, Cuba

How to Find the Right Casa Particular in Cuba

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If you’re planning a trip to Cuba, you may have come across the term casa particular in reference to a typical style of Cuban accommodation. You might be wondering what they are or if they are the right option for you as you prepare your itinerary.

In this guide, we share everything you need to know about casas particulares in Cuba. For a complete breakdown of lodging options in Cuba and lists of our favorites, check out our guide to booking the best hotels and casas particulares in Cuba.

What is a casa particular

A casa particular is Cuba’s version of a privately owned guesthouse, bed and breakfast, or boutique hotel. Guests rent private rooms within a larger home and typically have the option of a home cooked breakfast each morning.

It’s basically anything that isn’t a big-name hotel, which are generally owned and run by foreign hotel chains or the Cuban government. 

Originally, a casa particular was more akin to a rented guest room in someone’s home, where advertising was done by word of mouth and bookings were paid in cash at the end of a guest’s stay. But as tourism has grown and evolved in Cuba, this form of small business activity has also evolved to include many different types of accommodations for all budgets.

Over the years, these businesses have made improvements in the form of comforts and amenities. These days, almost every casa particular offers wifi, online booking, en suite bathrooms, modern “mini-split” air conditioning, and house managers who are dedicated to making sure each guest has a great stay (and leaves a great review).

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How is a casa particular different from a hotel?

A casa particular is typically a family-run business, so it is usually smaller than a hotel and doesn’t have some hotel perks like 24 hour concierge, pool, room service, etc. However, some have grown into full fledged boutique hotels with all of the typical hotel amenities. 

What are the advantages of booking a casa particular?

Casas particulares are generally less expensive and a better value than Cuban hotels. As small, locally owned private businesses, hosts are typically more responsive and better able to attend to guests’ needs. 

And as it turns out, the beautifully restored historic homes of Cuba have more elegance, character and style than the aging, soulless hotels on the island. Casas particulares also offer a chance to experience a more authentic version of contemporary Cuba. 

It should also be noted that for U.S. travelers, most of the large hotels in Cuba are off limits according to U.S. law. The U.S. State Department has issued a “restricted list” of hotels and other businesses that are owned by the Cuban government and therefore prohibited for American travelers visiting Cuba under one of the 12 categories of legal travel to Cuba. 

Where in Cuba can I find casas particulares to stay in?

Casas particulares exist in all of the major cities in Cuba, as well as other popular tourist areas. Havana has the most options, but you can find them all across the island. In smaller towns, casas particulares are much more modest and familial, allowing guests to have an intimate almost homestay-like experience.

How expensive are casas particulares?

Casas particulares can range from as little as $25 per night for a simple room to over $400 a night for the nicest boutique hotel accommodations.  In Havana, generally speaking, a quality room can be found for $40-$60 per night. 

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How do I book a casa particular before my trip?

Casas particulares of all types, as well as full apartment and home rentals, can be found on popular booking sites like Airbnb, Expedia.com, or Hotels.com.

How does payment work at a casa particular

U.S. travelers can legally book and pay for accommodations online. For additional services like breakfast, laundry, and other amenities, travelers typically pay in cash at the end of their stay. 

Is breakfast included at casas particulares

A generous breakfast is typically offered at an additional charge at most casas particulares. Although there are some nice breakfast spots in Havana, we recommend paying for the in-house breakfasts served by your Cuban hosts—you’ll almost always get the best breakfast at the best price at your casa particular

What does breakfast consist of at most casas particulares?

In some cases, like the more boutique-y hotel casas with restaurants on site, there will be a menu with many options. But in most cases, breakfast will be a mix of bread or toast, fruit, coffee with warm milk, eggs or omelettes, and fresh fruit juices.

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How can I tell if a casa particular listing is good or not? 

Like any online booking, photos and reviews are the best way to tell if a casa particular is worth the nightly price. Make sure to check for recent reviews, and if you’re not sure about the location, check out our curated map collections to figure out what areas you want to be in before you book. 

What are the best areas in Havana to stay? 

Havana is made up of several different neighborhoods, each with its own unique feel. 

The historic district of Old Havana is full of beautiful buildings and plazas, narrow bustling streets, and many great lodging options. The casas particulares in Old Havana are typically apartments and involve climbing stairs, so make sure to check ahead of time if this is going to be an issue. 

Vedado is another great neighborhood, full of wide, leafy streets lined with an eclectic mix of century old estates and more modern architectural stylings. Vedado has it’s own low-key art scene and nightlife, but you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Old Havana. 

Centro Havana is another hospitable neighborhood for visitors with plenty of casa particular options. Located between Old Havana and Vedado, the waterfront runs along its northern edge, and the best accommodations are within a few blocks of the water. 

Another lovely neighborhood is Miramar which is a relatively well to do neighborhood along the water just west of Vedado. It’s a bit removed from the more central areas of the city, but it has it’s own collection of nice restaurants, and has a quiet, residential feel.


From Booking to Arrival: What to Expect

If you book accommodations through Airbnb, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, or another U.S. based company, you’ll complete an extra step in the booking process. You’ll be asked 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. 

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 complete the official Cuban health 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 U.S., you can purchase insurance independently or pay a small fee for access to Cuba’s tourist system. 

More Cuba Travel Tips

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