“Casa particular” literally means “private house” but it started to be used to mean “private accommodation” in 1997, when the Cuban government allowed Cubans to rent out rooms in their houses or apartments to tourists, providing Cuban families with new sources of income.”
The downfall of the Soviet Union resulted in tremendous financial hardship for Cuba. The subsidies they had been receiving (a large part of their budget) were literally cut to zero, thus adjustments for basic survival were needed to their economic strategies. Part of the turn-around plan called for an increase in tourism. To address the problem of limited hotels to accommodate the projected visitation, local folk were granted permission to obtain a license to transform rooms in their residence to rental units. Thus, the casa particular boom was created.
Tourist have been flocking to Cuba for years. The notion of seeing 1950’s American cars troll the streets has its own fascination. Then there are the iconic cigars or the rum or the music, just to name a few cultural distinctions. For many Americans, the yearn to visit Cuba has been increasing each year. However, for some, they are stuck on Fidel Castro and his regime and have disdain of ever visiting or “coming home.” They view any suggestion on visiting the island as a compromise to their way of life.
The merits of the conflict are worth pursuing, if nothing more than to give you a better perspective but for those like me, it’s the real people who live everyday lives which are more important than political ideology. So, out of respect many appreciate the feelings of those who hold unto the “anti-Castro” sentiment as the bigger picture is many of the 11 million people of Cuba have a thirst for you to visit their country.
You can find casa particulars all over the country. Some can be booked online through sites such as Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Expedia, etc. At the same time, some do not wish to pay the fees associated with having their property listed so once you find their email address or phone number, communication is no problem.
If you desire to truly experience everyday Cuban life, you will find casa particular a great choice. In addition to being a “guest” in somebody’s home, you will have an opportunity to engage with them including experiencing their culture through food. One important note is even though you are using a portion of somebody’s home, your specific lodging usually has separate entry/exit and you are given a key.
At the same time, if your personality is not the adventurous type or your idea of a visiting the Caribbean is to stay at a resort or you desire to be pampered or even consider yourself “high maintenance” you are better off paying a couple of hundred dollars each night at a local hotel where you will be among the throng of tourist.
Most casa particulares range in price but $25 is a good standard. Meals are available however the availability and price are something you negotiate with the owner. Typically breakfast ranges from $3-$5 and dinner from $7-$12.
One more point should you choose to stay in a casa particular – in communication with your guest please ask them if there are any small items (candy, aspirin, spices, headphones, thumb drives, etc.) you can bring to give them, as certain items are unavailable or difficult to obtain? They will be eternally grateful.
Your host can also assist (communicate upfront to establish expectations) with the following:
- Taxi (to/from airport, to/from bus depot, etc.)
- How to obtain internet cards
- Cadeca’s to exchange money
- Paladar or places to eat
THE BOTTOM LINE BENEFIT OF STAYING IN A CASA PARTICULAR IS THE FEE YOU PAY PROVIDES A DIRECT POSITIVE IMPACT TO A LOCAL FAMILY, BENEFITTING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY.
Here is a list of some casa particulars I have stayed:
Havana is approximately 12 miles from the airport. Taxi fares average $25 but could go as high as $30 to $35 – Everything is negotiable so set your expectations upfront.
Hostal K is operated by Katia De Llano Cuesta. She is of German ancestry, born in CUBA and a very delightful person. Professionally, she is a retired teacher and noted economist.
She takes great care to make sure you are comfortable. Best of all, she is also on WhatsUp!!!!
The property is located in the Cerro community which features great access to Havana. Located on Ayesteran between Carlos III and Maloja. Stores, shops and bus stops are very close
Casa Particular Mariela
Mariela operates this casa particular and it is very accessible. Her unit is a lovely apartment style which features upstairs/downstairs. There is a living room, kitchen as well as bedroom.
Casa Particular Adelia
270 Calle 28, La Habana 10400, Cuba
53 (7) 8308007
Adelia is a jewel and great source of information. Her place is grand and very accessible to parts of Havana. Stores and paladar’s are very close and the main street where you can access the bus is about ½ mile by walking.
Casa Particular Moraima
Moraima Rangel Collado operates this casa particular. It is very accommodating and just blocks from the main thoroughfare. She features a stunning garden featuring fruit trees allowing you to obtain fresh fruit/juice.
Casa Particular Katiuska
This property is operated by “Kat’s” son (Jose Julio) and her mother in law (Eulalia). They are splendid host and very accommodating. I am sure you will love the outside garden. The property is easy to access and places you may want to visit are within walking distance or a short taxi ride. She makes a great espresso! You can also find Kat on WhatsUp.
SANTIAGO de CUBA
Casa Particular María del Carmen
My dear friend Katia from Havana recommended Villa Maria del Carmen. Maria and her husband Jose have taken this casa particular to a new level. The property was owned by Maria’s Great-grandmother and you can see the pride of ownership the way they have maintained the legacy. The rooms are well equipped and even feature a stocked refrigerator of water/beer (of course you pay for what you consume). More important to help them operate the venue they have a full staff to help with cooking, cleaning and other maintenance issues. Their property has wi-fi (you simply access via your Etesca card). The roof-top views are stunning.