How to Rent a Room or Private Home in Cuba

  • 01 of 08

    Scarce Hotels Make House Rentals in Cuba an Excellent Option

    Casa particular in Cienfuegos, Cuba
    Casa particular in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Photo by Momo/CC by 2.0

    Want to visit Cuba? So does everyone else these days. 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.

    Cuba has had a largely state-controlled economy since the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s, but one major exception has long been that ordinary Cubans are allowed to rent their property out to travelers. These "casas particulares" run the gamut from bed and breakfast style rooms in occupied homes to entire apartments, residences, and villas. 

    Renting a home in Cuba has the advantage of increasing your interaction with ordinary Cubans, which can go a long way...MORE towards justifying your Cuba travel to the U.S. State Department, which still stipulates that Americans can only visit the Caribbean island for the purposes of "people-to-people" cultural exchanges.

    There are many Cuban casa particular rental agencies you can book with, including Havana Casa Particular, CubaAccommodation.com, CasaParticular.com, CasaParticularCuba.org, and MyCasaParticular. Recently, powerhouse Airbnb has entered the Cuban rental market, and the international company Homestay.com also has several hundred listings of casa particulares.

     

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  • 02 of 08

    AirBnB Arrives in Cuba

    casa particular in Santiago de Cuba
    Terrace at a casa particular in Santiago de Cuba. Photo by Dirk Van Der Made/CC by SA 3.0

    As is the case in the U.S. and elsewhere, Airbnb has quickly emerged as the biggest player in the Cuban home-rental market. Airbnb began operating in Cuba in April 2015, initially offering Cuban rentals only to U.S. travelers licensed by the U.S. State Department to visit Cuba, but opened up its bookings to all international travelers in the spring of 2016.

    About 4,000 Cuban casas particulares are now part of the Airbnb network, making Cuba the fastest-growing market in Airbnb history. Most listings are in the Havana area, but about one-third are elsewhere in the country, including Trinidad, Viñales, Santiago de Cuba, Matanzas and Cienfuegos. Major categories of lodgings include shared rooms (some for just $10 per night), private rooms, and entire homes and apartments.

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  • 03 of 08

    Airbnb Cuba Offers Familiarity in Booking

    Casa particular in Trinidad, Cuba
    Casa particular in Trinidad, Cuba. Photo by Arnoud Joris Maaswinkel/CC by SA 4.0

    In many important ways, renting an Airbnb in Cuba is just like renting in other parts of the world: you can review property information and photos online, learn about and message your hosts, and read reviews. Payment can be made via credit card, and all of Airbnb's "trust and safety" guarantees apply to Cuban stays.

    On the other hand, U.S. travelers who want to book an Airbnb must certify that their trip is permitted under one of the 12 State Department licenses for authorized Cuba travel.

    So what can you expect in a Cuba home rental? It really covers a broad range. Airbnb, for example, lists a shared room in Havana starting at just $10 per night: the Barato y Bueno Habana property has air conditioning and a private bathroom. Want a little more privacy? The Sol de Valle II private room starts at $25 nightly in beautiful Vinales, and the hosts serve breakfast, dinner and cocktails daily. 

    If you're looking to rent an entire house (what Airbnb is more known for), you can pay...MORE as little as $30 for a one-bedroom apartment close to all of the Cuban capital's major attractions to $575 for a luxury villa that sleeps eight or more than $1,000 per night for a villa with a private pool in a gated community in Havana's Miramar neighborhood.

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  • 04 of 08

    Meet Real Cuban People by Staying in Their Homes

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

    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 prepare local dishes, help you mix a mojito and introduce you to all that Cuba has to offer."

    Book a Cuba Trip with Homestay.com

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  • 05 of 08

    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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  • 06 of 08

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

    Homestay.com lodging in 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 the traditional Cuban "casa particulares."

    Book a Cuba Trip with Homestay.com

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  • 07 of 08

    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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  • 08 of 08

    Ready to Go to Cuba? 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