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-   -   Best casa particular in Havana (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/cuba/1775644-best-casa-particular-havana.html)

SIN1K Jul 1, 16 4:14 pm

Best casa particular in Havana
 
A buddy of mine and I will be travelling to Cuba in December. We'd like to be where the action is, where the cigar factories are, best restaurants within walking distance, etc.
If we are willing to pay upwards of $100 a night for two to three bedrooms, which Casa Particulars do you recommend?
Thanks.!

djjaguar64 Jul 3, 16 8:55 am

airbnb. Vedado

el_che Jul 4, 16 8:15 am

For a good restaurant in central Havana, I highly recommend Sia Kara Café near the Capitol. Great vibe and music at night.

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restauran...ince_Cuba.html

calville Nov 6, 16 6:54 am

I found a casa particular with excellent reviews for our upcoming visit in Feb 2017.

Here's my tripadvisor search method:
Search for B & Bs on your cell phone- for some reason, tripadvisor no longer allows B & B searches on my desk top computer- I think they are trying to force us into first viewing certain hotels that advertise with them.
I didn't have any trouble bringing up a list, in order, on my cell. If anyone has insight into my tripadvisor difficulties, please let me know.

Be aware that reviews of B & Bs are less critical and not as reliable- perhaps the reviewers have bonded with their hosts, don't want to hurt their feelings and the hosts have begged them for a review. Also, when people are paying less, they tend to be more forgiving.

I don't trust tripadvisor's algorithms for B & Bs or tour guides. I look for a person or a place that has no 1 or 2 star ratings. In this case, I went fairly quickly through almost the entire list, by eliminating any casas with less than perfect reviews. Ours is #52 on the list. It's quite new- which may account for the lower rating.

Carpetbagger's Ydalgo penthouse in Vedado also sounds like a very good recommendation- although it's more of a rental- not living with the hosts.
There's also a rental in Vieja (Old Havana city center)- you book the entire house- Casa Una Habana gets good reviews, however, might be super noisy based on a map search with popular restaurant (O' Reilly) below?

The food and drink at our casa sound good but I'm going to be careful researching restaurants- once I narrow down the list, I'll do a google search for the words "food poisoning", "sick", "ill" etc.

Hotel Iberostar Parque Central had rooms at over $700/night for our dates then about 12 hours later were gone. Nacional was over $500 then their rooms also disappeared. Surprisingly, I did find some availability at the Saratoga on cubaism.org. Considering the poor to mixed reviews at most of these properties, the more reasonably priced NH Capri might be a good choice for those wanting a hotel.

number_6 Nov 6, 16 8:34 pm

Just came back from Havana and stayed at Suite Havana which is not cheap but well worth it and probably the best private accom for any price (EUR 200 per night for 2 people). Also stayed at Parque Central suite (USD 700 per night) and prefer Suite Havana though there are some important pluses for staying at a hotel (starting with easy money changing and relatively fast internet service, though it is bought separately for CUC 7 for 5 hours). Everythng nice is sold out so if you find something you like, book it because it will be gone soon. Low-end accom is available much more readily but there is a huge difference. Also don't expect uninterrupted water and electricity, even in the poshest setting :)

My impression is that lots of CUC prices have doubled in the past year, though this is my first trip to Cuba so comparing it to past reports. Havana is not cheap but very beautiful and a fantastic place to visit.

calville Nov 7, 16 9:07 am

Number 6- I'm envious- just checked out Suite Havana- looks great but unfortunately, booked for our dates and we already have flights or I'd consider changing!

Our casa on Calle Obispo (Casa Obispo 307) is about 4-5 blocks away from the place you stayed. How did you like the Old Havana location? I hope we don't get sensory overload!

Did you find any good restaurants? Any traveler's diarrhea or queasiness while in Cuba?
Thanks!

djjaguar64 Nov 7, 16 9:53 am


Originally Posted by number_6 (Post 27446326)
Just came back from Havana and stayed at Suite Havana which is not cheap but well worth it and probably the best private accom for any price (EUR 200 per night for 2 people). Also stayed at Parque Central suite (USD 700 per night) and prefer Suite Havana though there are some important pluses for staying at a hotel (starting with easy money changing and relatively fast internet service, though it is bought separately for CUC 7 for 5 hours). Everythng nice is sold out so if you find something you like, book it because it will be gone soon. Low-end accom is available much more readily but there is a huge difference. Also don't expect uninterrupted water and electricity, even in the poshest setting :)

My impression is that lots of CUC prices have doubled in the past year, though this is my first trip to Cuba so comparing it to past reports. Havana is not cheap but very beautiful and a fantastic place to visit.

Why would people pay 700 Euros for rooms with cockroaches, I don't get it. These hotels were USD$150 max at one point, Now if it was the 4 seasons in Asia, I will pay top dollar, not in Cuba.

VidaNaPraia Nov 7, 16 10:11 am


Originally Posted by calville (Post 27448096)
Our casa on Calle Obispo (Casa Obispo 307) .......How did you like the Old Havana location? I hope we don't get sensory overload!

Did you find any good restaurants? Any traveler's diarrhea or queasiness while in Cuba?

Get off the main tourist streets in Havana Vieja and see where the locals are actually living, walking to shops and work, etc, a refreshing change to the endless paintings of cars in shops along the tourist streets.
There are gorgeous ruins or semi-ruins at every step, in every neighborhood. The crumbling charm of the buildings in Havana Vieja does get a bit overwhelming, but Vedado's buildings, while large homes instead of apartment blocks, are also overload after a while of looking. The best photos (or photo ops, rather) IMO were of residents, in front of or in their first floor homes in Havana Vieja and some other neighborhoods, for example, but it seems very invasive zoo-tourism to be walking around taking those shots.

The food IMO was mediocre at best. (How do you ruin fish, on an island? In more than one restaurant too.) Ate a lot of "safe" shrimp in garlic dishes (but sometimes it was garlic with shrimp, though), and roast chicken occasionally. Meat dishes, usually pork, are unpalatable IMO. (My comparison is my local Cuban restaurant at home, which has access to US products for their "traditional" recipes like ropas viejas.) No intestinal problems though, even eating at beach stands and local food on the street.

calville Nov 7, 16 10:48 am

Thanks everyone for your comments- not trying to hijack this thread though..

I agree about not paying a lot for mediocre hotels. Someone on airbnb claims that many Cuban casa particulars are also owned by the govt and managed by broker agencies. I wonder if this is true. I'm sure they all have to pay a percentage in taxes/fees etc to the govt.

I saw in yesterday's travel section of the NYT that tripadvisor is now licensed to book accommodations in Cuba.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/27/tr...king.html?_r=0

Suite Havana is #131 on tripadvisor.

VidaNaPraia Nov 7, 16 1:02 pm

Casa particular means private house in Spanish. A casa particular is owned by the person renting it out or renting out rooms in it. The owners do have to be licensed, pay a fee, and follow the book-keeping, monthly in-home book inspection, and daily phone reporting regulations.
There are third party booking agencies like AirBnB, but you can book directly with the owners through a site like CubaJunky. Most rooms in a casa particular, booked directly with the owner, are about 25-30 CUC (unless something out of the ordinary), even in Havana. I'm seeing prices closer to U$58 on TA.
Make your reservation with the owner by email or phone, confirm it a couple of days ahead of arrival, and pay on arrival in cash (CUC).

number_6 Nov 7, 16 2:00 pm


Originally Posted by djjaguar64 (Post 27448280)
Why would people pay 700 Euros for rooms with cockroaches, I don't get it. These hotels were USD$150 max at one point, Now if it was the 4 seasons in Asia, I will pay top dollar, not in Cuba.

Supply and demand; the top hotels like Saratoga and Parque Central are booked out 100% occupancy and keep raising their prices to match. These are world-class hotels as good as 5-star in Manhattan and they forgot to include any cockroaches or bed bugs in my suite :)

As for food, it is very much bipolar. The local shops are barren -- there is simply little food around. The state run restaurants are cheap (lobster dinner for $3 for example) but food and service are atrocious. I'm told the staff steal all the best supplies to either eat themselves or resell on the black market -- makes sense given monthly pay is $20. The bellhops at my hotel were mostly doctors moonlighting to earn some money; it is quite a different culture.

Food at the private restaurants I went to ranged from good to fabulous (as in Michelin 1-star quality). The web ratings are pretty indicative (I picked based on this and wasn't disappointed). But instead of $3 you pay $30 for the same sounding dish, just tasting much better.

In short Havana is no bargain, the better hotels and restaurants are booked out. You can live very cheaply (and get cockroaches) or you can live quite expensively (similar price to NYC) ... there is not much in between in Havana any more. I didn't see the rest of Cuba but am told it is much cheaper in other cities (but also much poorer).

The streetscapes are stunning, mixture of great buildings and ruins. The people are fantastic, friendly and happy. There is music everywhere, most of it good. In short a great travvel experience, just completely different from what you get in more mainstream destinations.

calville Nov 7, 16 5:44 pm

Wonderful additional details Number 6- thank you!
We aren't concerned about cost of meals- especially after booking rooms at 50/per night!
Would you please list the very good to fab restaurants- we are traveling with another couple and have all agreed to seek out the best and hopefully safest food.
I have looked at the tripadvisor ratings and reports of where the Obamas ate etc. but still uncertain which ones we should target.
Thanks in advance- whenever you have time- no rush.

djjaguar64 Nov 7, 16 7:21 pm

Sorry but these hotels are not 5 Star and no they are not comparable to Manhattan's 5 star hotels. I have stayed at all them and they are 3 star at best.

Melia Cohiba had cockroaches
Habana Libre had cockroaches
Nacional had cockroaches
Vedado was cheap but did not see any roaches

Saratoga I did not see cockroaches but its much nicer than the above 3
Parque Central is also ok


But these are not 5 star hotels by N. American standards, not just yet!

I have been going to Cuba since 2000 and believe me I know, having stayed in 20 peso casas and almost all of the hotels in Habana. I now stay in Vedado at 30 pesos a night in a casa across from the Habana Libre hotel.

VidaNaPraia Nov 7, 16 7:46 pm


Originally Posted by djjaguar64 (Post 27450802)
I now stay in Vedado at 30 pesos a night in a casa across from the Habana Libre hotel.

So that was your body all those buzzards circling the top of the hotel had their eye on? Lol

calville Nov 8, 16 1:37 pm

I'm surprised that all the indoor mosquito fumigation hasn't eliminated the cockroaches but maybe they are immune :)
https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...ow-cuba-kept-z

Living in the SE US we are accustomed to cockroaches- the big ones live outside in the vegetation and get inside very easily.

It was other accounts of poor service, mildew smells etc at some hotels that bothered me. We're looking forward to our stay at the casa particular- hopefully it will be nice. I'll post a report on our return.

Hoping to get some more restaurant recommendations...

Jaguar- do you mind posting the name of the casa you like in Vedado?


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