Can't Find a Hotel in Cuba? Consider a Homestay, Instead

  • 01 of 05

    Meet Real Cuban People by Staying in Their Homes

    Havana, Cuba
    ••• Havana, Cuba. Photo courtesy Homestay.com

    Flights and ferries from the U.S. mean that getting to Cuba is easier than ever, but the bigger challenge may be finding somewhere to stay once you arrive. The demand for hotel rooms by American travelers is expected to overwhelm supply for at least the next several years; fortunately, non-hotel lodging options include an established network of homestay opportunities that will be familiar to bed and breakfast lovers and millennial travelers comfortable with couchsurfing.

    Homestay.com, which brokers stays in local family homes, has more than 50,000 listings in 150 countries worldwide, and Havana, Cuba is among the top 10 destinations for U.S. travelers. Homestay.com currently has more than 300 listings in Cuba, including in Havana, Trinidad, and Vinales. "In terms of arranging a homestay in Cuba, it couldn’t be easier," according to Homestay.com CEO Alan Clarke. "We have hundreds of hosts across the beautiful island, many of which are fantastic cooks and more than happy to...MORE prepare local dishes, help you mix a mojito and introduce you to all that Cuba has to offer."

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  • 02 of 05

    Lodging Plus Meals For as Little as $7 a Night

    Havana homestay host Fanny and family
    ••• Havana homestay host Fanny and family. Photo courtesy of Homestay.com

    Cuban homestays can be far less expensive than staying in a big resort hotel (with prices as low as $7 a night) -- not to mention being far more culturally immersive. A homestay can make your Cuba visit a richly rewarding opportunity to meet real Cuban people in their own homes -- and help you justify your Cuba visit under the U.S. State Department rules that require travelers to engage in "people-to-people" cultural exchanges, not beach-and-bar type tourism allowed almost anywhere else on the globe.

    While not all-inclusive, all homestays include breakfast, and hosts often offer the option of other meals, taken with the host family, at a small additional fee. The best hosts also may take care of details like airport transfers, tours, visits to attractions, bicycle rentals, and restaurant reservations, according to Homestay.com. Plus, many hosts speak several languages, including English. Between helping to overcome the language barrier in Spanish-speaking Cuba and helping to...MORE navigate the country's transportation system, your homestay host could turn out to be the single biggest asset you'll have on your trip. 

    Book a Cuba Trip with Homestay.com

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  • 03 of 05

    A Cuban Homestay Is Part B&B, Part "Casa Particular"

    Homestay.com lodging in Cuba
    ••• Jorge's homestay in Havana, Cuba. Photo courtesy of Homestay.com

    Homestays in Cuba are often in restored colonial homes; some boast amenities like balconies and multiple rooms, and depending upon what you want to pay you can also get more high-end lodging like private villas and estates.

    A homestay gives travelers the convenience of a bed & breakfast but with far more interaction with your hosts; if it's privacy you seek, an AirBandB (which also has extensive offerings in Cuba) might be a better option, since its listings include entire residences for short-term rent. Unlike many B&Bs, most homestays offer just one or two rooms to guests, so they rarely feel like a small hotel.

    A better comparison would be to a traditional Cuban "casa particulares," a homestay concept that predated the arrival of Homestay.com (many of these small "room and board" families are now also working with the online booking engine).

    Book a Cuba Trip with Homestay.com

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  • 04 of 05

    Meet Some of the Top Cuban Homestay Hosts

    Pedro's homestay in Havana, Cuba
    ••• Pedro's homestay in Havana, Cuba. Photo courtesy of Homestay.com

    In Havana, a stay at Pedro’s Casa S, just a block from the sea, costs just $27 per night for an air-conditioned room in a Spanish colonial home where yoga mats are offered for meditation and asanas. In the Vedado district, host Maritza and her two daughters also charge just $27 nightly for an apartment where conversation about bicycling, soccer, photography, and engineering (the hosts' profession) are added bonuses for guests. Baseball fan Idaisys has an air-conditioned double room in Vinales with terraces overlooking her gardens and a roof deck for taking in the views; she can also offer plenty of advice about local activities ranging from hiking to ziplining to the best dance clubs in town.

    Other top Cuba homestay hosts include:

    Havana: Tomas

    Vinales: Yelenis

    Trinidad: Alexey

    Havana: Orialis

    Havana: Jorge

    Book a Cuba Trip with Homestay.com

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  • 05 of 05

    Ready to Book? Start the Process Here!

    Idaisys' homestay in Vinales, Cuba
    ••• Idaisys' homestay in Vinales, Cuba. Photo courtesy of Homestay.com

    Homestay.com CEO Clarke says that booking a Cuban homestay is effortless: "Just choose a location and a price range and start reading our host profiles, which are full of guest reviews, photos and additional information which will help you choose your ideal homestay." 

    "Once you have narrowed down your choices, we would advise contacting a few of your top hosts with the dates you have in mind," he adds. "Once your hosts respond, you can email back and forth via our messaging system and then set up a video chat to ‘meet’ the host before making a booking. This gives you a chance to discuss any requirements you may have and ensures both parties are completely happy with the arrangement." Hosts will typically ask about your reason for traveling, age, interests, and any special requirements to ensure a smooth and pleasant stay.

    Book a Cuba Trip with Homestay.com

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