Saturday, August 20, 2016

Make the most of it: Casa particulars in Cuba

Make the most of it: Casa particulars in Cuba
Havana's casa particulars let travellers room with the locals and
experience another side of hospitality and the city.
By GRACE LISA SCOTT Special to the Star
Sat., Aug. 20, 2016

HAVANA, CUBA — "Welcome! You are our daughter now!" said Israel Sainz in
the cosy living room of the second-floor apartment he shares with
Maruchi Sainz in Old Havana.

Travellers looking for a fun, unique — and very Cuban — accommodation
experience will find it in Havana's casa particulars.

Cuba's brand of B&B came about in the late 1990s, when the Castro
government began easing restrictions on private businesses. One
concession was allowing Cubans to make an income renting out rooms in
their homes to tourists. Now registered casa particulars are all over
the country, wherever a blue upside-down anchor symbol is nailed near
the door.

For around 30 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) or about $39 (Canadian) a
night, tourists can land a private room, with breakfast usually costing
an additional 5 CUC ($6.45) and served by the hosts whenever their
guests want to get up.

At the Sainzs' apartment, breakfast consisted of an ample serving of
eggs, bread, fresh guava and pineapple, and amazing coffee.

If cost wasn't reason enough, the added bonus for travellers staying at
a casa particular is the opportunity to interact with locals who can
help them navigate the intricacies of everything they want to do while
in Havana.

Israel provided detailed directions to every destination, estimated how
much cab fares would cost, and recommended great places to eat. And like
true surrogate parents, he and Maruchi even insisted on doing this
writer's laundry.

Of course, like everything in Havana, quality can run the gamut.

This is literally someone's home, so levels of hospitality and
atmosphere can vary. There are multiple casa particulars that have
online information for booking in advance, such as

If one is full, the owner will usually refer to a nearby alternative.
Every casa particular has cards available with the name of the owner,
the address and phone number.

As such, travellers pass cards around, and like anything, the best
things come on recommendation. Some Cubans don't speak fluent English,
though, so emailing and calling can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.

Grace Lisa Scott's trip to Cuba was partially supported by G Adventures,
which didn't review or approve this story.

When You Go

Israel and Maruchi Sainz, 56 Morro, Apt. 206, Old Havana, (+53) 5 829 7089

Source: Make the most of it: Casa particulars in Cuba | Toronto Star -
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