Casa particulares are the best-value accommodation in the world – find out how you can find an air-conditioned room anywhere in Cuba for CUC$15.
Your best choice for accommodation in Cuba is staying in a casa particular.
Apart from 3 hostels in Havana, there are none elsewhere in the country.
There are hotels but they’re almost all government-run & notoriously bad value for money. By staying at casa particulares, you can support the local economy.
In this ultimate budget guide, we share everything we know, including how to find a casa, how to negotiate the best rate & more.
For extreme shoestring travellers like us, eating peso street food & traveling in camiones, accommodation was by far the biggest cost – if Couchsurfing was allowed, you could travel in Cuba for almost nothing!
Nevertheless, casa particulares are arguably the best value for money you can find for accommodation anywhere in the world – and we were glad that there were no cheaper options so we could indulge in a bit of budget luxury!
How to Find Casa Particulares in Cuba
There’s no need to book ahead or book online – when you first arrive in a new city, just walk around & look for the blue anchor.
This is the sign for a casa particular.
A red anchor means it accepts Cuban guests only – standards in these casas are lower but prices are cheaper in MN$ pesos.
Visit a few casas until you find one you like, for the price you’re willing to pay.
Use Lonely Planet as a guide but they generally list places above CUC$20 – you can always find a casa for CUC$15.
It’s also good to spread the love around & support places other than those listed in guidebooks.
What to Expect in Casa Particulares
After you’ve chosen a casa & agreed on the price, you’ll need to give your passport to the owner.
As you’d expect, there’s a lot of bureaucracy to follow in operating a business in Cuba. The owner will fill out your details in a receipt book & you’ll be required to sign it.
You can pay at any time. Casas seem to prefer you to pay at the end of your stay, in case you make additional expenses like meals, tours, etc. However there’s no problem if you want to pay in the beginning, too.
All casas are very clean, tidy & friendly. You can have as much or as little contact with the host family as you like. Note that most will only speak Spanish.
What to Look For in Casa Particulares
The most important thing to look for in a casa is that it has its own entrance – cuartos independientes (independent quarters).
This was you have more privacy & can come & go as you please.
How Much Should I Pay for Casa Particulares?
At the beginning of our trip, we were sometimes paying CUC$20 a night, however we quickly discovered that you can find a room for CUC$15 anywhere in Cuba.
At a bare minimum, your room will include a double bed & air-conditioning.
Usually you’ll have your own bathroom but occasionally for a CUC$15 room, it’ll be located just outside your room (and can be shared or private).
Sometimes your room will have a fridge or cable tv too.
What’s in a Room in Casa Particulares?
In Communist Cuba, rooms in casas found anywhere on the island all look very similar.
As a rule, they must include the following:
- Double bed
- Side table
- Wall art
Sometimes a room will include 2 double beds, a fridge and/or cable tv with a couple of English channels.
For CUC$15, you will usually have your own bathroom – for CUC$20, it’s a guarantee. There’s always hot water.
You’ll be provided with towels & toilet paper.
There’s absolutely no chance of wi-fi!
Casa Particulares Services
Most casas offer meals, for an additional prices:
- Breakfast – CUC$3-5
- Lunch – CUC$6-8
- Dinner – CUC$6-8
We didn’t take any meals in casas but they generally have excellent reviews in terms of taste & quantity.
Casa particulares are also the only places in Cuba that provide laundry service – there are no laundromats.
They’re very relaxed with prices – one casa suggested CUC$2-3 depending on the pile of clothes, another casa insisted that we pay what we felt like (she was happy with CUC$3 for a big load of clothes).
Casa particulares can organize tours, guides, transport, etc.
Our casa owner in Havana helped me to send some postcards as I couldn’t find any post boxes – he kept his word as they arrived to my friends & family in Australia 30 days later!
How to Negotiate the Best Rate for Casa Particulares
Most casa particulares are very similar, charging the same prices, so try to negotiate to get a little more for your CUC.
Sometimes all you need to do is ask politely.
Most casas will offer their rooms for a starting price of CUC$25 – if you seem hesitant, this will quickly drop to CUC$20 or even CUC$15.
If you’re staying multiple nights, there’s even less reason why you shouldn’t be able to get a room for CUC$15. You could also try to negotiate breakfast into the price.
Breakfast usually costs CUC$3-5 extra per person.
We usually grabbed a couple of pan con tortilla (bread with omelette) from a local peso stall for breakfast – they are usually 3-4 pesos each. For more information, see our post Peso Street Food in Cuba: Eat for $1 a Day.
However, if you’re keen on breakfast at the casa, negotiate it into your room rate rather than paying separately, and you can save a few pesos.
Adding CUC$5 for breakfast for 2 people is reasonable – this way the casa makes a few extra dollars & you save a few dollars. Win-win!
If you’d like to have lunch or dinner at the casa, negotiate this beforehand, too. This may leave you with a little less flexibility & spontaneity but the trade-off is you save a few convertibles.
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*** The Final Word – Never pay more than CUC$15 for a casa particular anywhere in Cuba! ***
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Super easy DIY travel around city centres
Visited in May-June 2016