Accommodation on the Cuba Tours
- About Guesthouses in Cuba (Casas / Homestays)
- The ‘Base House’ for our groups
- Sharing Arrangements on our tours in Cuba
- Single Supplement prices
- Travellers' feedback about accommodation on our tours in Cuba
- Tour Joining and Departure accommodation
Guesthouses in Cuba (“casas particulares”)
Guesthouses, Bed and Breakfast, B&B, casas, casas particulares, family stays, and homestays - these are all names for the same type of accommodation in Cuba.
Many travellers discover that the guesthouse accommodation is a major highlight of their visit to Cuba. This is not because of comfort levels, but typically because the casas are run by local families and located in residential neigbourhoods, so they provide a great opportunity for travellers to interact with everyday Cubans.
Better than Cuban Hotels?
Guesthouse rooms are generally quite basic but reasonably comfortable and very clean, and the families in Cuba will try to make you feel at home as much as possible.
They are usually not as roomy as typical hotel rooms, however the casas are consistently rated by travellers, as more enjoyable than staying in hotels and about the same comfort level as perhaps a 3 star Cuban hotel. It's the level of service and personal attention in the casas that is generally far superior to the hotels in Cuba. This is because the casas are privately run, profit making enterprises that rely on word-of-mouth recommendations among travellers, so the owners and staff are highly motivated to provide the best service they possibly can. They take pride in their work. This is in contrast to government run hotels where the staff are poorly paid - the consequence of which is low staff morale, poor maintenance, inefficiencies, and generally poor service.
Variety is the Spice...
While every family and every casa in Cuba is unique, with slightly different levels of comfort, the guesthouses we use in Cuba on our tours are much nicer than the average Cuban dwelling. The casas particulares are a form of accommodation for foreigners in Cuba that is legal and formalised, and the rooms for guests are required to meet a certain standard of comfort for the house to obtain a licence to rent. The owners pay a fee to the government for this licence and they also pay tax on their income.
We classify the guesthouses we use in Cuba into 2 categories:
- Standard Guesthouses - We use these on all of our regular tour departures. Within this category, the style and comfort levels still vary quite a lot. We make big ongoing efforts to select the best casas we can find in this category. Every house and every room is unique. Our standard guesthouses are more likely to be run by a family, where the family members provide the services to the guests.
- Comfort Guesthouses - this category is only slightly more comfortable than the Standard Guesthouses. They are still B&B in style, and cannot compare to the comfort levels of a modern western hotel". However every Comfort room has air-conditioning, an en suite bathroom, a window to the outside or to an interior open-air courtyard, modern imported mattresses, and cold and hot water. While these are our minimum requirements for Comfort rooms, every Comfort casa is different, and has its own unique charms. Most rooms (but not all) have a security box, mini-bar fridge, and hair dryer. We use these guesthouses for our Licensed tours for Americans and for our "Comfort Class" 9 day Essential Cuba tour. Comfort Guesthouses are also an option for the private and custom tours we offer.
A summary of guesthouse features
|Room size||Small / Medium||Medium / Large|
|Bathroom||En suite, or 1 bathroom shared between (at most) 2 guest rooms||En suite|
|Air-conditioning||Almost always. A few rooms just have a fan. Aircon units are often of the older variety and can be noisy.||Modern “splitter” type unit (quiet)|
|Windows||Yes, but in the case of a room with en suite bathroom, the only window can sometimes be in the bathroom||At least 1 in every room – natural light|
|Hot water shower||Yes. Often this is with a system where the water is heated by an electric element in shower head. Sometimes medium to low water pressure||Modern hot water heater. Medium to high pressure|
|Stairs / access||Sometimes rooms are on upper floors where up to 3 floors of (sometimes narrow) stairs need to be climbed||On ground or first floor if no elevator access|
|Towels||Provided, sometimes quite small||Provided, medium or large. Usually hotel grade|
|Mattresses||Often Cuban made. Might be firmer or softer than your ideal.||Modern, imported|
|Ownership / Staff||More likely to be run by a local family whose family members provide the services. Because of this, some travelers prefer standard casas to the comfort ones.||A few of these are run more like mini-boutique hotels where staff wear uniforms and interaction is more formal than in the standard guesthouses.|
Meals in the Guesthouses
Most guesthouses outside of Havana offer dinner for their guests at an extra cost. If it is a family run guesthouse, the guests are generally served meals separately to the family.
Most Cubans are very friendly and love to talk to you. In some casas the family members speak quite good English, while in others they are practiced at communicating with their non-Spanish speaking guests simply by gesturing and smiling. Overcoming these communication challenges is seen by most as part of the fun!
Our Network of Guesthouses
With our experience using casas particulares on our tours in Cuba since 2005, we have developed a network of houses with excellent levels of comfort and service. These have been carefully selected over time taking into account our travellers' feedback.
The Base House - explained
For the nights on our tours where guesthouse accommodation is included, we will most likely use a number of different houses depending on the group size. Most guesthouses have 2-4 rooms for guests. However with the recent change in laws, some homes now have up to 10 rooms.
For our tour groups, we chose one of the houses as a “Base House” or (central house) which typically has more rooms and a nice area for the group to meet. We use this house as an arrival and departure point for the group, and as a meeting point for any excursions or activities with the tour guide. Tour participants are distributed to different casas situated within a short walking distance of the Base House. Family members from those houses collect tour participants from the Base House. Typically between 1 and 4 group members will stay in each casa.
Photos of standard guesthouses we use in Cuba
Sharing Arrangements on our Tours in Cuba
All accommodation on our tours in Cuba is based on a twin-share arrangement.
This means two people per room, and if you join the tour as an individual, you may be sharing a room of two beds, with another member of the same sex from the group.
- If there is no one to share with, and you end up with a room to yourself, you do not have to pay a single supplement.
- If you would like to guarantee yourself a single room throughout your tour, you can purchase the single supplement.
- If you do not purchase the single supplement but at some stage during the tour you decide you want to have a room to yourself, your guide may be able to arrange this for you at a cost of 25-50cuc/night (paid locally) depending on the type of accommodation. However, this is subject to availability at the time of your request.
Tour Single Supplement Prices
Prices valid as of Jan 4, 2018.
|TOUR||Single Supplement Cost|
|8 Day Original||US$195|
|15 Day Original||US$370|
|6 Day Western Cuba||US$145|
|Essential Cuba (comfort class)||US$325|
|10 Day Active Cuba Tour (multi-sport)||US$200|
|9 Day This Cuban Life||US$285|
|15 Day Canchanchara to Cucurucho||US$445|
|20 Day Complete Cuba||US$515|
|New Years Rumba||US$345|
- See the individual tour pages for more information.
Travellers' comments about guesthouse accommodation on our tours in Cuba
These are actual comments from our travellers about their experiences
staying in guesthouse accommodation in Cuba while on one of our tours.
Cindy -(United States)
Every place we stayed was unique yet consistently immaculate and comfortable. THe breakfasts and dinners we ate there were the best of the trip. Our hosts, with and without English, were helpful and friendly, and patiently tried to communicate with our broken Spanish. One bathroom in Trinidad had next to no hot water but the other bathroom that was part of the apartment we shared was fine. These hosts also had a refrigerator stocked with soda, water, and beer at our disposal which they charged us for when we checked out. That was a real convenience that others might want to adopt.
Nice accomodation and nice hosts. Very well located.
I cannot commend strongly enough the hard work that the casa particular operators did in providing comfortable, clean and welcoming accommodation. They are doing the best that they can given the unreliability of access to resources (like parts to fix a toilet or shower, for example) that, if staying in hotels in Australia, we would expect, even DEMAND (!!). Big deal that the pillows weren't always fantastic, that the pressure in the shower was never great ... it`s Cuba. It`s Cuban life. The things that really mattered were universal - a smile, a laugh, a warm environment and a feeling of safety and security. However, I do wonder why we stayed at a hotel in Camaguey. Although it was clean the hospitality was nowhere near as good and I found the whole hotel experience sterile and artificial. I would recommend that the tour only stay in hotels if guesthouses were not available.
The accommodation was much better than we expected which was a nice surprise.
Some of the beds were a little uncomfortable, but overall I was very happy with the home stays.
With the exception of the hotel in Camaguey we were happy with our accommodation. We recommend you dump the hotel and continue with casa particulars, noting there were several in close proximity. We didn't find it particularly difficult to navigate the town and for a much more pleasant stay, family homes are a great way to do.
Stephen -(United States)
I was pleasantly surprised. Every room had a private bath and air-conditioning. The rooms were modest, clean and comfortable (as advertised on your website). Our stay at the 3-Anna’s (in Santiago) was particularly nice---the host and hostess (Oscar and Rafaela) were so friendly and engaging they immediately felt like friends. Home stays are absolutely the way to go.
Our home stay in Vinales was particularly good. Our hosts (Daniella?? and her husband) were so lovely and happy.
Joel -(United States)
Although every stay was wonderful, I do need to single out Rafaela and Oscar in Santiago for extra recognition. We were so impressed with their friendliness and attentiveness that we wanted them to adopt us.
Hosts varied considerably - some were keen to offer dinners cooked in the cases, others did not seem interested in this. Breakfasts were pretty much the same everywhere - good and plentiful. Similarly, the houses varied, with the base houses usually having attractive and large sitting areas which we could use. All hosts were honest and tried to be helpful.
Hosts were very friendly, rooms very clean, great experience.
really enjoyed staying in the Casas - one of the benefits of the group tour. Was best when I was sharing the casa with others and there was an en suite bathroom but they were all really good and the people co-ordinating the accommodation were friendly and helpful.
The casas that we stayed in were all fantastic. I wish i spoke a little more spanish so that i could chat with the hosts but they did the best they could to communicate with us and were all very friendly (especially our hosts in trinidad!). The breakfasts were always vast and the meal that we ate at the casa in Vinales was delicious. I liked that at each location we were all in casas that were very close together and had a central meeting spot. The one in Havana was especially good and had a lovely rooftop bar and a casa owner that was happy to give salsa lessons!
Having travelled independently in Cuba before, I have experienced casas particulares before. On this tour, accommodations were lovely overall. When there was a problem, Sandra and the main house host were quick to move people. Really appreciated that!
Anne & Lloyd -(Australia)
We could not have asked for more with our accommodation. Noharis & El Chino in Vinales set the bar extremely high with their great casa, an over-abundance of beautiful food and mohito making lesson. Wenceslao in Cienfuegos, we loved your accommodation. We wish we had more than one night with you. The boys in Trinidad at Los Hermanos - thank you. It was a "home to come home to" at the end of a busy day. We felt were very spoilt and we did not expect the standard of accommodation we did stay at.
Besides the fact that I initially struggled with culture shock, Baracoa was a fascinating place, the casa particulares in which we stayed Williams Montoyer? was very welcoming, interesting and enjoyable. My least favourite were Santiago de Cuba although the hostess Anna was a very kind woman. And the hotel in Camaguey where I did not sleep for the noise of the disco right next door. Jesus`s house in Trinidad was another good casa in which to stay.
We didn't really know what to expect and found the mix of Casa`s and hotels an excellent mix. Clearly some were better than others but in particular the houses in Baracoa and Trinidad were stand outs.
For the vast majority of all the casas we stayed were lovely, and the hosts were amazing. Although it was however a little difficult in Havana to stay in the casas, a hotel may have been better. I do have to add the first casa we stayed in in Havana were friendly and it was lovely.
Home stays were as advertised - basic but comfortable and friendly. Probably the casa in Havana was the least favourite of the group however it did have an excelle nt central location.
Jodi -(New Zealand)
I paid for the single supplement but I am going to I thought the accommodations - casa particulares - were fantastic. I came to Cuba to experience the real thing (or as close to it as tourists can get) and so I was very happy with all the casas we stayed in. I am super happy we did not get a hotel anywhere. back for another tour and it's so easy at the homestays that I don't mind sharing with another single female traveller.
Homestays were a highlight of the trip. The hosts went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable and felt welcome. I would never stay in hotels in Cuba!
Robert & June -(UK)
Martia was Very friendly, helpful & honest (we accidentally left money in pockets of clothes we asked her to wash & it came back to us, with her asking us to be more careful)
Overall, the accommodation was of a reasonable standard. All the property owners were friendly and did all they could to make us feel at home.
Very very good, just please a few more pillows on the comfort stakes (but a minor niggle). Staying in casas was a huge integrating part of the holiday, thro which we both got the 'inside' story of how Cuban people live and tick. Unfortunately the hotel in Camaguey was poor (flooding loo cistern) and road works all night outside our room, breakfast was plentiful but burnt coffee 2nd morning. It didn't mar our holiday as we laughed about it but it needs pointing out.
The only small negative was that I couldn't communicate so well with the hosts because my Spanish and their English was limited, but nothing too major.
Lots of variation in the guesthouses and in the food offerings but overall the accommodations were good and the families/hosts very friendly. Unfortunately in one place the pillow was so hard that it was difficult to sleep. The homestays provided a great opportunity to see another layer of Cuban life and it was really interesting to see the differences in lifestyles and relative economics of the different hosts.
Anne & Barbara -(Switzerland)
We liked our stays in the casa particulares. The hosts were always very friendly and attentive. The breakfast was much better than in the hotels we stayed. Fortunately they were always centrally located, which was very important for us! The only thing we missed sometimes was a window in our room for having natural daylight.
The variety of homes and friendliness of hosts and hostesses was perfect. We found wonderful, friendly, generous people in every home and neighborhood.
All the accommodations were excellent...everyone was so nice and really took care of us. I only wish I had bought gifts for them all to say an extra thank you.
I paid for the single supplement but I am going to come back for another tour and it's so easy at the homestays that I don't mind sharing with another single female traveller.
For the most part the accommodations were quite good. Every home stay families were friendly and helpful.
We absolutely LOVED the hosts that we were set up with. Our favorite was definitely Mirta and Blanco in Vinales. We felt SO welcomed from the moment we walked in. We sat with their son Rolle (age 24) on the front porch in the evenings and talked (in mixed English/Spanish). We met his friend who took us on a tour to places we wanted to see and it was so comfortable; like friends going out for the day. The room was clean, the house was spotless and we felt comfortable coming and going as we pleased. A close second on my list was our hosts in Trinidad, Otmara and Alberto (Casa Torrado). Alberto's hospitality is superb. He is polite, courteous and the consummate gentleman. He is always there to serve and be of service and his English is very good (a help for me). Otmara, his wife, was so much fun. She loves to laugh and made us feel so welcomed in her home. She helped me learn that Legendario is great for sore throats (I hope hers gets better...LOL!) and I loved chatti ng with her and her family while she worked in the kitchen. They have a pretty little courtyard patio with water features and lots of greenery and like me, Alberto collects antique items from previous wars which he is glad to show you if you only ask.
Friendly people in the smaller towns, Havana not as much but still friendly than most countries.
The hostess in Vanales was my favourite. She was such a sweet lady and so welcoming. The BEST cook ever!!!
We didnt expect too much so were not disappointed. we think potential clients need to be made aware of the standards and that they are not at all like western standards then people cant complain.
All the families were lovely and hospitable, wanting to chat with us and give us good tips. They prepared lovely breakfasts. The rooms were comfortable with air-con, fans etc.
We found most of the accommodations very good. They were all very clean with comfortable beds. Our hosts were very helpful and friendly. We enjoyed the meals that we had in our Casas.
We would like to say that some did exceed others - the ones in Baracoa and Trinidad were amazing and encouraged us to try out our Spanish as well as providing us with the feeling that we were home from home. I slipped over on the very shiny bathroom tiles in Santiago, so perhaps a warning and more bathroom mats would be helpful.
All homestays surpassed our expectations.
Eliza and Rosita were especially hospitable and friendly. All the coffee we had on the trip was delicious. We never went away from the table hungry.
Loved the Casa's thank you.
Each accommodation was delightful and a meaningful experience for us at each home. The homes were always clean and always comfortable, safe, private. Each host family treated us warmly and made sure our needs were met. We enjoyed eating all the nightly meals and breakfasts in the home and the food was very good. Maida in Vinales cared for Kim as if she was her own daughter! Wonderful people! We loved that we stayed in homes rather than hotels. Delightful experience always including last Havana night!!
All of our host families were very good. Their homes were clean and the food they prepared was excellent!
All the homestays were lovely. Vinales felt a bit more personal as the others were larger. Jesus' house in Trinidad was a bit like Clapham Junction with quite a few tours there at the same time. Special thanks to him for smoking a cigar and then burning a tick out of my arm!! Havana was good - but as Leo, who greeted us the night before, wasn't around on our last am/day it felt less personal. More like a hotel. It was still better than staying out at the Nacional again.
All of our host were friendly, but they respected our privacy as well. We enjoyed the home stay very much.
The best places we stayed were the casas. The hosts were always very helpful and even when they could not speak English we managed to work things out with our limited Spanish.
Loved all of my accommodation. I had a bad cough and my casa mothers made sure I was looked after even though we could hardly speak each others' languages. It was a pleasure to live in their homes.
I loved each of the homestays - each one was different and special and gave me a unique insight into Cuba. I wasn't sure how we ended up at The Nacional given that it was a budget tour? Fun to see the hotel given the history but personally would have been fine with somewhere more low-key (and cheaper?).
We were downgraded to the Hotel Victoria for the tour (from Hotel Nacional) and our room was on the main road and very noisy. We stayed in cabins in Maria La Gorda, which were lovely, but our favourite accommodation was in Vinales where we stayed with Dianeles. Dianeles and her family were extremely welcoming and friendly, even though they spoke little English and we spoke little Spanish! The accommodation was very comfortable and clean and we were overwhelmed with the food they gave us. Staying there really was one of the highlights of our tour.
Accommodation was really good - always clean with great breakfasts, especially in the homestays which were one of the best things about the tour and a great chance to practise Spanish with some very patient people! I got my laundry done in some of the homestays at very reasonable rates. I especially liked the one in Vinales where our small group of 5 were in the same complex and where the families shared out the meals throughout our three nights. They were really friendly and the food was great. Dinners at the 3 Anas in Santiago were probably my favourite meals on the island (though Baracoa came close) and I loved the cooking lesson (and Spanish practice) they kindly gave me one evening. Berta's in Havana was great too - was the perfect location for my Spanish lessons and salsa lessons and she really made me feel looked after in my first week in Havana before the tour started. To be honest, after staying in the homestays, hotels were always a bit disappointing, but they were all clean and in good locations. Hotel Nacional was obviously interesting to stay in, but they were very disorganised and wouldn't be my choice for another stay in Havana.
Outstanding and what a great way to get a real feel for Cuban life. The food was simple, wholesome and fresh and every host made us feel welcome and relaxed.
I loved staying in the homes of the Cuban families and found them delightful, warm, and inviting, though they often knew little English and I knew even less Spanish! There was one thing every household got across, however: "My house is your house!"
These were mixed. We were in 4 casas, which ranged between good and very good. The hotel in Camaguey was only okay. I think all the hosts did their best to be pleasant and accommodating.
We really liked having the opportunity to stay in both hotels and casa particulars. The hotels were both great choices and the hosts at the home stays were very accommodating.
My least favourite accommodation was the Hotel Plaza in Camaguey. Other than that, all of our casas and both hotels in Havana were excellent...clean. Staff at Hotel Nacional could have been friendlier.
The rooms were in far better condition than I could have imagined and hosts were more than happy to converse
Mix of Hotel Nacional and homestays actually works really well, giving totally different experiences. Some of the homestays were amazing, particularly in Vinales. The Nacional's admin leaves something to be desired, I guess, but at least it helps get you in tune with Cuban time/bureaucracy!
The one thing that I loved most about Cuba is its people. Everyone was so friendly, and staying in casas is really the best way to get to know local people. Throughout the tour we stayed at three different homes, and all of them were very comfortable and clean.
The quality of the homestays was really good. The hosts were always friendly and accommodating and the rooms were clean. I liked the Hotel Nacional because it is steeped in history. However I don't think the rooms were as nice as other hotels and casas we stayed in during our visit to Cuba. It is okay for 1 or 2 night's stay.
I loved the home stays. Each host went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we wanted. The home stays were one of the most memorable parts of the tour as I was able to have a glimpse into the day to day life in Cuba. I will never forget them especially Mirta in Vinales who said to us "Mi casa es su casa." That was how we were made to feel and it was a wonderful experience.
Every casa we stayed was very friendly and comfortable.
All of our Casa parents (that's what we called the casa owners) were super lovely! Their houses were beautiful and I ate some of the yummiest food I had in Cuba was in the casas. In fact, the casa where we stayed in Santiago de Cuba was where I had the tastiest food of the entire trip.
Natalie and Georgia -(UK)
The casas were simple, very clean and were one of the highlights of the trip. The best way to experience Cuba is by interacting with the people and this is a great way to do that. As vegetarians they were very accommodating and the food was great on the whole (usually better in the casas than in the restaurants)
Homestays were a fantastic way to stay in Cuba. By far the best food can be found in the casas - especially the 3 Ana's in Santiago! Rooms were always clean, with air con, towels, bathroom etc. Slightly dodgy showers on occasion but you get that everywhere! Breakfasts were great at the homestays - fresh fruit, bread, cheese, juice, coffee, tea.
Joining and Departure Accommodation for Your Tour
You can see details of the joining and departure accommodation for each tour on each individual tour page.