About casas particulares in Cuba.
At the end of the 90s, Cuba was under a deep economic crisis. This situation led the Cuban government to take measures aimed to improve the economic and social situation of the island. One of those measures was to give the opportunity to the Cuban people to create small and medium private businesses.
This was when we first saw the creation of guesthouses, houses for rental, bed and breakfast and hostels. All of them are known as casas particulares in Cuba. Hostels are usually found in the rural areas of the country or areas of passage. Guesthouses, in the other hand, are the most common type of accommodation found in the country in general.
So, what exactly are casas particulares?
As mention above, Casas Particulares can refer to any kind of rental/property that is offered by a private Cuban family business to foreigners that are visiting Cuba. It can be a home-stay, a guesthouse, a B&B, a hostel, or it can as well refer to self contained apartments and entire villas with pools. Casas particulares belong to families that prepare their homes or houses for accommodation rental services. Some rent only some rooms within the home, while others rent the house in its entirety.
What services are offered or not in this accommodations?
Usually accommodations include air-condition services, bedding, private bathrooms (many of them very modern), cold and hot water service, soap, toilet paper and towels. Minibars and TV with national television service are found in many of the rooms of casas particulares. Bed linen and towels are changed regularly, usually every three days or at the request of the client. Laundry service is a very popular service found at the Cuban casas particulares. It is as well common for many casas particulares in Cuba to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Taxis can be usually arranged at the request of the client.
Many casas particulares have private spaces. These are communal spaces for all clients staying in the properties and they vary from living areas under roof such us living rooms, gardens, terraces (roofed and without roof). Some have excellent views, depending on their location. They usually become a place of relaxation where you get the opportunity to taste a good Cuban coffee, have a drink or just chat with friends.
The owners/hosts of these accommodations are typically very attentive people, show familiarity to the service provided and are respectful of privacy of the visitor. They have an invested interest on you having a great time while in their accommodations, since they relay vastly in the word of mouth to obtain further clients.
What to expect from the properties?
Some casas particulares are of colonial architecture, especially those close to downtown historical city, preserving to this day the structure of the era in which they were built. These constructions are high strut with doors and double leaf windows allowing better ventilation. In some cases, they preserve the furniture of the period carved in wood precious as cedar and mahogany, others in cast iron also with carvings that show the traces of the Spanish colony in Cuba.
There are also rents of contemporary construction, giving the country a contrast between the old & antique and the new & modern. The prices of these vary according to many factors, their location, the type of rental (just a room, or the entire property), the overall standard of fixtures and furnishings, to mention just a couple. For example, a single room in a colonial style property, with a very high-end fixture and furnishings and centrally located in the historical center of Old Havana could cost more than a modern one bedroom self-contained apartment in Vedado area of Havana.
Is valid to mention there are two types of rentals in casas particulares in Cuba: linear; which are rentals that can be rented from 3 to 6 months onward; and per night, which is the most usual type of rental found in the island.
Last but not least…
Casas particulares are very different from service offered by the hotels, although we think this is one provides a chance to get closer to the Cuban people and their fantastic culture, an opportunity to get to know the true Cuba from your own experience and interactions with the wonderful, warm, genuine and charismatic Cuban people.