The sudden spike in tourism in an economy with nowhere near enough infrastructure — plus the embargo that makes it complicated to make payments from the USA or by credit card — means that booking a room ahead is frustrating. Hotels can be booked up long in advance, with the demand resulting in prices that are jacked way up. The good travelers I met relied entirely on rooms in private homes, or casas particulares. The Cuban government now allows normal citizens to rent rooms to foreigners, including Americans. Airbnb and Cuban equivalents make this pretty easy. But making reliable reservations and payments in advance can be a challenge unless you’re working with an agency that is not Cuban (like Airbnb — which, in Cuba, is only available to Americans — or Canada-based Point2Cuba).
We stayed in a fine home in the elegant Miramar neighborhood, a 15-minute taxi ride from the old center. The entire rooftop was an inviting patio with fine views of the neighborhood.
Photo: The Travelphile
The inside of our casa particular was an entire floor with three bedrooms. A maid served us breakfast each morning. Just like cars are vintage 1950s, living rooms seemed to have changed little in half a century.
As anywhere, a big part of the joy of staying at B&Bs (along with saving money and having a more comfortable and spacious home on the road rather than a tight little hotel room) is the opportunity to get to know the family that also lives there. We stayed in four different B&Bs in two weeks, and each family was a delight.
In our Havana B&B, we had no keys as there was a 24/7 doorman. I don’t know quite how this fits into the socialist ethic, but I must admit that having our friendly doorman greet us at all hours when we came and went was comforting.