Where to stay in Cuba? That’s one of the many questions people have while considering a trip to Cuba, especially as an American.
As many of you know the gates to Cuba were closed off to Americans for over 50 years and were recently opened after President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they will be restoring their relationship as nations. That’s great news for Americans and Cubans, but there are other technicalities that are still at works, like booking a flight and where to stay in Cuba.
I have been researching traveling to Cuba for over a year now (probably 2). Since I’m Israeli and the relationship between Israel and Cuba were always good, I know of many Israelis that have traveled there and many travel blogging friends. To top it all off, I’ll be traveling to Cuba in 2 weeks.
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So here is everything you need to know about where to stay in Cuba
A Tour of my Airbnb in Havana, Cuba – plus some more information:
Traveling to Cuba
Although the gates to Cuba are now opened, it’s not “officially” opened for everyone. There are 12 types of categories you need to fit into.
- Family visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
- Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
Things to Take into Consideration
There are a few things to take into consideration while booking a trip to Cuba and finding out where to stay in Cuba.
Cuba has hotels, not a lot, like most countries or major cities, but they do have them. There are 5-star hotels as well. This might not be a good fit for everyone, here are a few things to consider…
- Price + 5-Star Hotels vs. Reality: First and foremost, the “nicest” hotels in Cuba aren’t cheap…at all! Just a few days ago I was looking up the best hotels in Havana and the prices were outrageous and they are said to go higher. Some of these rooms start off at $600 a night! The reality of that is what Cuba considers a 5-star hotel, the western world considers a 3-4 star hotel. So to pay $600 for a room that should really be around $100 is a bit of a rip-off. Especially if you’re traveling alone. However, still doable for family travelers and couples.
- Outdated: Most, if not all of the hotels in Cuba are outdated, even the 5-star hotels. Which include the furniture in the room, mattresses and bedsheets.
- Government Hotels: Most people know this, but I’ll mention it anyways, for those who don’t. Cuba is a communist country. The hotels in Cuba, not all but most, are run by the government. I’ve traveled on Press Trips and stayed at government-run hotels and they aren’t normally the nicest.
- Booking a Hotel with Credit Card: If you’re an American and trying to plan a trip to Cuba and book one of these hotels, for example in the capital of Cuba – Havana, your credit card or debit card won’t allow you to book it. It’s a technicality that’s still being worked out between America and Cuba. For example, if you search for a hotel based in Cuba from the U.S. on Booking.com, it will say at the top “Unfortunately, booking in Cuba is not currently possible from your country”. If you aren’t American, you can still book a hotel, but just take into consideration the things I’ve mentioned above.
These things might not bother some and that’s great, but it’s definitely things to take into consideration. Also, if you want to stay in a hotel and can’t book it from America, try arriving to the hotel in person and paying for it in cash.
I, personally, love staying at luxury hotels and 90% of the time when I travel, I do. However, taking in these factors, I have a hard time justifying staying in a hotel in Cuba.
This isn’t to turn you off of staying in a hotel in Cuba, there are plus sides to staying in a hotel. Like knowing you have breakfast, lunch and dinner waiting for you downstairs and not having to look for a place to eat when you’re hungry. The food in the hotel is also safer since it is a third-world country and people do tend to get food poisoning (just happened to my friend this past week in Cuba). Another great thing is most of these hotels have pools and when you’re on vacation, a pool is everything and more.
If you want to stay in a hotel in Havana, Cuba, here are a list of the best hotels.
Best Hotels in Havana, Cuba
Be sure to look more into what the rooms actually look like and if you like them. Some hotels will only show you the property, like pool, lobby, etc, but not the rooms. I always find that to be fishy and most of the time, I find out later why they hide them.
- Melia Habana
- Melia Cohiba
- Tryp Habana Libre
- Memories Miramar Habana
- Memories Jibacoa – Adults Only
- Starfish Montehabana
- Hotel Saratoga
- Hotel Nacional de Cuba
I gotta tell you guys, Airbnb is a life saver for those traveling from America to Cuba or in general for anyone traveling to Cuba.
So here’s the run down on Airbnb…
First of all, since Cuba is a communist country, most people make a flat income of $30 USD a month! Yes, I know, it’s totally sad and crazy. Airbnb allows the locals to make extra cash by offering their house or a room in their house. This is a great way to get to know the locals and help them make some extra cash, which I strongly believe they deserve.
Americans and anyone from any country can book an Airbnb in Cuba. If you’re an American with an American credit card/debit card, Airbnb will allow you to book accommodations in Cuba.
Pros to Airbnb in Cuba:
- Cheap – There are some beautiful rooms and houses to rent on Airbnb and they are SO affordable. Accommodations start at around $23 and go up to $200, but most range between $50-$75 a night. I booked 4-nights in Havana with a renovated, ocean-view houses, in the city center, totaling up to less than $200. You really can’t beat that!
- You have an option of renting the entire house (which I did. Cost more, but personally worth it) or renting out a room and sharing a house.
- Some of these Airbnb are actually a lot nicer than – room wise, than the hotels. I found some killer places, newly renovated, fresh paint, beautiful furniture, nice beds and bathrooms.
- Your Airbnb seller can also help you with recommendations and booking attractions (you can’t book attractions in the U.S.)
and to make things EVEN BETTER, I have a $40 credit for my followers which I actually used myself for this booking, so I saved some more money. (It’s basically a free a night) Click the image below to get your Airbnb $40 credit, good for any listing in the world.
Timing is everything, so act fast!
The bad thing about these amazing Airbnb houses is that timing is EVERYTHING. Cuba is clearly on the rise and these places are selling out FAST! Some of the places I wanted to stay at the most are booked for the next 6 months or longer. So book far in advance. I booked my trip to Cuba in less than 3 weeks before my travel, based on finding rooms on Airbnb that I liked. At first, I looked for accommodations for 4 nights but found little options, when I changed my dates to 2-days, separating them, I found more options. So for the first 2-nights, I’ll be staying at one place and the other 2 nights at another place. It’s the best way to save money and book your trip ASAP.
Before Airbnb was introduced to the world, casa particular was a popular thing in Cuba. What is a casa particular? It’s basically just like Airbnb, you can technically call Airbnb a casa particular. Locals renting a room or their house to travelers, very similar to a bed & breakfast. Most casa particular are shared rooms with a local family, although you can still find full houses to rent out.
Here are a few websites to look into:
Whichever way you pick to spend your accommodations, I wish you all an amazing adventure in Cuba.
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