Make the most of it: Casa particulars in Cuba

Havana’s casa particulars let travellers room with the locals and experience another side of hospitality and the city.

Screen shot 2016-08-22 at 8.59.34 AMHAVANA, CUBA — “Welcome! You are our daughter now!” said Israel Sainz in the cosy living room of the second-floor apartment he shares with Maruchi Sainz in Old Havana.

Travellers looking for a fun, unique — and very Cuban — accommodation experience will find it in Havana’s casa particulars.

Cuba’s brand of B&B came about in the late 1990s, when the Castro government began easing restrictions on private businesses. One concession was allowing Cubans to make an income renting out rooms in their homes to tourists. Now registered casa particulars are all over the country, wherever a blue upside-down anchor symbol is nailed near the door.

For around 30 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) or about $39 (Canadian) a night, tourists can land a private room, with breakfast usually costing an additional 5 CUC ($6.45) and served by the hosts whenever their guests want to get up.

At the Sainzs’ apartment, breakfast consisted of an ample serving of eggs, bread, fresh guava and pineapple, and amazing coffee.
If cost wasn’t reason enough, the added bonus for travellers staying at a casa particular is the opportunity to interact with locals who can help them navigate the intricacies of everything they want to do while in Havana.

Israel provided detailed directions to every destination, estimated how much cab fares would cost, and recommended great places to eat. And like true surrogate parents, he and Maruchi even insisted on doing this writer’s laundry.

Of course, like everything in Havana, quality can run the gamut.

This is literally someone’s home, so levels of hospitality and atmosphere can vary. There are multiple casa particulars that have online information for booking in advance, such as

If one is full, the owner will usually refer to a nearby alternative. Every casa particular has cards available with the name of the owner, the address and phone number.

As such, travellers pass cards around, and like anything, the best things come on recommendation. Some Cubans don’t speak fluent English, though, so emailing and calling can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort.

Grace Lisa Scott,

August 20, 2016

Grace Lisa Scott’s trip to Cuba was partially supported by G Adventures, which didn’t review or approve this story.

When You Go

  • Israel and Maruchi Sainz, 56 Morro, Apt. 206, Old Havana, (+53) 5 829 7089
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