Hands down, the best places to stay in Cuba are in “casa particulars,” the term for a homestay in Cuba. For decades, staying in a casa particular has been the norm for travelers to the biggest island in the Caribbean. It’s a popular, and false, misconception about Cuba that tourism has only grown in the past few years with increased traffic from the United States. But now, with Airbnb, scheduling your stay has never been easier! Casa particulars can be found on Airbnb, with verified pictures, customer reviews, and a map feature that allows you to see how far the lodging is from popular hotspots. Plus, staying in Airbnbs is a more direct way to support the Cuban people than staying in a government-operated hotel.
That said, using Airbnb in Cuba does not come without its own hiccups. For starters, booking on Airbnb does not work on Cuban internet. You can access the site to see your listings and contact hosts, but you cannot book new lodging while on the island. Also, you will not have free or easily accessible internet access; internet usage requires the purchase of an internet card (1CUC for 1 hour, or more if you buy it from someone) as well as a WiFi hotspot which are largely in public gathering areas like parks and squares. It’s one of the many things to expect when traveling to Cuba. Because of those obstacles, as well as some travelers experiencing that their rented casa particulars were different than advertised, is why I’ve rounded up the absolute best Airbnb’s in Cuba!
Best Places to Stay in Cuba
A guest post by Kay, The Awkward Traveller
I had the pleasure of staying two weeks in Cuba, becoming like family to some of the hosts I stayed with in the various cities I visited.
However, I do want to point out that Cuba is not the most wheelchair-friendly destination. Most of the streets are cobblestoned with narrow sidewalks, ramps are not common, and taxis and buses are not always wheelchair accessible. There are VERY FEW lodging options with no steps into the entrance or throughout the house. Just a heads up. I personally travel with a chronic condition that is harder on my joints and stamina, so the following Airbnb options (with the exception of two) do not have many stairs, but there are still a few.
So without further ado – here are some of the best places to stay in Cuba!
In the capital city of Havana, there is no shortage of options! If you don’t mind the three flights of stairs, one of the best places to stay in Cuba is a modern apartment flat in the heart of Havana Vieja. The hosts, Yeny and Rafa, are a young family with an eye for impeccable home decor. It is one of the most modern you will find in the city, and even has a WiFi router inside! Though, you will still have to buy a WiFi card to use the internet. The flat is also central to many of the amazing things to do in Cuba, but because it is situated on a top floor, the apartment is surprisingly quiet making it one of the best places to stay in Cuba!
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Best Places to Stay in Cuba: Santiago
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city in Cuba, and is on the southeastern side of the island. If you happen to make it over, you must stay at Casa Real with Roy and his family. The entire family is an encyclopedia for Cuban history, and know a ton of suggestions and recommendations for things to do around the city. They will even pick you up from the airport or bus station! WiFi is also reachable from inside!
Trinidad is a fun city to visit, so you’ll want to make sure your lodging doesn’t kill the vibe. Thankfully, Hostal Thelvia with host Luis and his family will welcome you to the city with bright rooms and amazing water pressure. Luis is also an actual chef, so if you choose to eat at your lodging -which you definitely should!- you will be in for an incredible surprise! The fridge comes fully stocked so you can grab a beverage for sale without having to wait at the long grocery market lines.
Best Places to Stay in Cuba: Holguin
I first heard about Holguin when I began reading fiction books about Cuba. Many Cuban authors, artists, and athletes came from Holguin, and the city is still a cultural hot spot. Staying at Casa Colonial with one of the sweetest hosts, Leticia, who goes out of her way to make sure you feel welcomed and comfortable. It could be a great option for a group, as you could reserve both rooms in the house, but either way the house is in a great location near the square and parks.
Iraida and Juan are incredible hosts, and their guest house provides the perfect rural atmosphere that you want to experience in Vinales. Although the lodging is only about a ten minute walk from the city center, the home is quiet and detached from the main road, meaning you can be close to all of the things to do in Vinales but still retire to a peaceful and serene bed at night. The home is located on a working farm, so you can wake up to horses grazing right outside of your window! You can even schedule horseback riding tours through the Vinales countryside with Juan’s brother!
Best Places to Stay in Cuba: Camagüey
Isabel’s home in Camaguey is one of the most spacious casa particulars in the city. It is also the most beautiful, with a lush courtyard garden and high colonial ceilings. It is located in the center of the city, walking distance to some of the best restaurants in Cuba as well as galleries, the city library, and a cinema. You can really feel the heart of the city and the pulse of culture while staying here, and Isabel has countless suggestions for things to do if you’re looking for a tour or something more adventurous.
Okay, I didn’t want to play favorites, but Guajiro House is one of my favorite Airbnbs in the WORLD, and hands down the best casa particulars in Cuba! First, the property is immaculate, with a private loft upstairs (accessibility note) equipped with a terrace and dip pool. The bathroom is spacious, with a comfortable bed and crisp AC. It is just minutes from the beach. Plus, the stay comes with two free bike rentals and beach hats to take down to the playa. Breakfast is included at this stay, but you should also try the host’s dinner as well, he cooks up some mean fish! Germán (Michel) and his family also sent us off with parting gifts. Varadero isn’t just full of stunning beaches, but also stunning people.
Best Places to Stay in Cuba: Baracoa
Heads up, this property has quite a few stairs (like so many other casa particulars.). In fact, most in Baracoa do, especially along the beach area. But if you are able, staying at Tarcy’s property, Casa la Marina, will make your trip unforgettable. The home is off the path of high traffic, making it more quiet and comfortable at night, with panoramic views of the ocean during sunset. Tarcy also has connections with the city’s best guides, so if you want to explore outside of the main downtown area (only a few blocks away), they can take you on nearby hikes and excursions to the nearby National Park. The bus station is right down the street, but chances are you won’t even want to leave her rooftop!
Santa Clara – land of Che. Also a great city for LGBTQA+ travelers! With a large university population, you may find Santa Clara buzzing with youthful energy, and in that energy lies the Casa Ítaca hostel. Decorated with modern finishings, there is also a library, a beautiful courtyard garden, and an open outdoor patio. Claudia and Maykel want their family to grow up learning about other cultures and experiences, and love to sit and chat with guests. There are many things to do in Santa Clara, but your hosts can also make special arrangements for you such as Spanish classes, massages, and even personal tour guides during your stay.
Best Places to Stay in Cuba: Mantanzas
Last but certainly not least, is the city of Mantanzas. I actually spent almost a week driving around Cuba with Yodanis and his tour company Turismo Por Cuba. While I was there I met his wife Arianne and their young children. They were in the process of setting up their casa particular, Hostal Doña, and I had a sneak peak at seeing it before it hit the market! The home is large, so it is fantastic for groups, or you can rent a single room and enjoy making new friends. Mantanzas is a charming city, and you can book excursions with Yodanis in his classic red car to see iconic spots in town like the many caves, museums, and churches.
Best Places to Stay in Cuba
Hopefully this guide to the best casa particulars has you covered for visiting and staying in the best places to visit in Cuba! Have you ever been to Cuba? Which of these cities do these Airbnbs make you want to visit?
About the Author
Kay is a travel blogger focused on making travel more relatable, inclusive, and accessible to those wanting to travel. Along with hilarious tourist tales and travel guides, her posts offer travel tips for communities who are frequently under-served in the travel community, with articles focusing on traveling with chronic illnesses, wheelchair users, and those that are hard of sight or hearing. Kay also uplifts local voices in interviews about their culture so that the audience may gain a deeper understanding of the region from a local’s perspective.