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Airbnb vs other methods of booking a casa particular for Americans

Airbnb vs other methods of booking a casa particular for Americans

Old Sep 25, 16, 9:55 pm
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Airbnb vs other methods of booking a casa particular for Americans

Planning on heading to Cuba in November. Hotels are now outrageously priced (SPG wants 25k in points a night for the Four Points).

I see that I can book it on Airbnb, but not sure how I would get payment to them.
Is there a way for US folks to book casa particulars directly?
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Old Sep 26, 16, 5:07 am
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Question please do research 1st

My rule when visiting a new thread is to read it first BEFORE I start a new one!

If you had done so, no doubt you would have found this excellent (non US) post and Guardian article:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2...eakfast-owners

So how long have you been on FT?
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Old Sep 26, 16, 6:35 am
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I've been on FT long enough not to post a link to a completely different site talking about a completely different topic, then slam the poster.
Thanks for the insult and no help whatsoever.

And of course I did a search, but could not find anything recent and detailed.
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Old Sep 26, 16, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by pbiflyer View Post
Planning on heading to Cuba in November. Hotels are now outrageously priced (SPG wants 25k in points a night for the Four Points).

I see that I can book it on Airbnb, but not sure how I would get payment to them.
Is there a way for US folks to book casa particulars directly?
I just got back yesterday from a week in Varadero and Havana, first trip.
For casas particulares, you can use the site CubaJunky to choose. Most casas have e-mail to use to book. Pay in cash there in Cuba before check-out. Confirm the booking by e-mail a couple of days before arrival.

Do note that conditions are likely NOT what you used to (if you are mentioning hotels in the same breath). More basic than Mexico for what you get at about 500-1000 pesos MX there. Conditions are for young, resilient backpacker types IMO. There is ac, but no screens on windows or doors. (I attract any bug within miles radius and was besieged by some no-see-um type insect and a few mosquitos.) In certain casas, the water pressure is low, and there is usually no hot water at all.

I was told pricing of a few hotels and they did not seem expensive at all. The Hotel International in Havana, for example, where all the mobsters stayed in the old days, seemed from the lobby to be 5*, and was quoted to me as $150/night. Hotels at the beach in Varadero also did not seem expensive. (But I live in a US city where $150/night is sometimes not even possible, and a hostel bunk bed sometimes goes for $60/night.)

Any more questions, just post.
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Old Sep 26, 16, 12:05 pm
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sbm12 blogged about his trip to Cuba. He mentions casas particularas, but I couldn't find an article that spoke specifically to booking them. Here is the report on a place he stayed in Santa Clara.
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Old Sep 26, 16, 12:52 pm
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Perfect. Thanks for the information. Appreciate it!
It seems that with the flood gates opening, prices are skyrocketing. The Four Points is $350 a night and even the Airbnb places that topped out at $175 are now topping out at $350.
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Old Sep 26, 16, 3:09 pm
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No specific post from me on booking it because my friend did the heavy lifting on that part.

I strongly endorse that approach - Casas either direct or via AirBnB if you want to pay via CC, though you'll face a premium for doing so, likely less than converting USD to CUC - for stays in Cuba. The hotels in cities mostly suck, are overpriced or both IME.
Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
Conditions are for young, resilient backpacker types IMO. There is ac, but no screens on windows or doors. (I attract any bug within miles radius and was besieged by some no-see-um type insect and a few mosquitos.) In certain casas, the water pressure is low, and there is usually no hot water at all.
Depends VERY much on the city. Hostal Florida Center Santa Clara was cheap with a nice room, great air con and good water pressure on both the hot and cold taps. But it is in Santa Clara, not Havana.
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Old Sep 27, 16, 12:59 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Depends VERY much on the city.
Depends VERY much on the individual property and the resources of the owner.
I moved after 2 nights in a room run by the owner of an upstairs apartment to one in his nephew's apartment downstairs in the same house (because the upstairs guy's room was not available for the whole stay) and the difference in conditions was like day and night. My expectation had been that conditions would have been similar.
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Old Sep 27, 16, 7:38 am
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We are going to be in Havana. I like that via AirBnB I can read reviews.
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Old Sep 27, 16, 8:09 am
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CubaJunky also has reviews of casas.
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Old Sep 29, 16, 5:31 pm
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On Airbnb you pay $100 per night while the casa owner will charge you $30 per night for the exact same accommodation.
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Old Sep 29, 16, 5:50 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
I just got back yesterday from a week in Varadero and Havana, first trip.
For casas particulares, you can use the site CubaJunky to choose. Most casas have e-mail to use to book. Pay in cash there in Cuba before check-out. Confirm the booking by e-mail a couple of days before arrival.
How did you get from Varadero to Havana? Would like to not use a charter flight, but want to go before the flood gates open with direct flights to Havana.

Thanks for all the info.
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Old Sep 30, 16, 1:23 am
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Originally Posted by pbiflyer View Post
How did you get from Varadero to Havana? Would like to not use a charter flight, but want to go before the flood gates open with direct flights to Havana.

Thanks for all the info.

Varadero to Havana? There's a comfortable air conditioned Viazul coach bus for 10 CUC. It's about a 3 1/2 hour trip through some pretty countryside, with little villages and farms.
The road is very narrow most of the way, with just grass, no shoulder, one lane each way. At one point, there was a solid no passing stripe down the center and the bus was following a horse cart until we all reached a dashed center line for passing. LOL
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Old Oct 10, 16, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
Varadero to Havana? There's a comfortable air conditioned Viazul coach bus for 10 CUC. It's about a 3 1/2 hour trip through some pretty countryside, with little villages and farms.
The road is very narrow most of the way, with just grass, no shoulder, one lane each way. At one point, there was a solid no passing stripe down the center and the bus was following a horse cart until we all reached a dashed center line for passing. LOL
Was the bus full? Can you make reservations?

Edited to add:

Returning from Havana there is a bus that gets to Varadero at 10:45am. Our flight is at 12:20pm. Would that be enough time? Are the buses anywhere near on time?

Last edited by pbiflyer; Oct 10, 16 at 12:45 pm
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Old Oct 10, 16, 3:09 pm
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Originally Posted by pbiflyer View Post
Was the bus full? Can you make reservations?

Edited to add:

Returning from Havana there is a bus that gets to Varadero at 10:45am. Our flight is at 12:20pm. Would that be enough time? Are the buses anywhere near on time?
I went over to the bus station to get my Havana ticket the day before, but the window closes at 5. So I ended up going an hour before the bus was scheduled to leave and did succeed in getting a ticket. Maybe if it were in higher season this might not have worked. The bus ended up full, with last minute purchasers. The Argentine woman I met and traveled with had booked online, but I did not try; Wifi is sparse (I did not get a phone chip) and my US credit card likely would not yet have worked.
The bus station is on 36th and the "back street along the water" (forget the name, but the other side of the narrow peninsula from the beach side) in Veradero.
I got the ticket back to Varadero from Havana by going to the bus station a day ahead. My casa owner says the taxi fare should be 7CUC from Havana Vieja to the Viazul. Good luck with that one. (Taxis were the biggest "gringo tax" I felt I paid.) The bus was full leaving the bus station.

The road between Havana and Varadero is mostly one very narrow lane in each direction, with no shoulder, just grass. The road is marked with solid no passing middle lines, and some dashed lines where a vehicle can pass. The bus I was on stayed behind a horse cart, not able to pass, for quite a few miles, at horse slow trot speed. I don't know whether that could make any bus late or whether they build such contingencies into the schedule. I wouldn't want to be late for my flight out because of a horse though. LOL

I left the casa I was staying in at in Varadero about 10:30 for a 12:20 flight.
It takes about 20-30 minutes by taxi from the "downtown" Varadero to the airport. Offer 30CUC, not more.
I was in line at the airport to check in for well over an hour. Keep enough CUC for baggage fees if your airline charges them or you will have to exchange at the cadeca in the airport. (I didn't get charged by AA on the way to Cuba, but certainly did on the way back.)
I went through Aduana with no problem, but there is no guarantee.
I had a few minutes to take a breath(but barely) and look at some souvenirs on which to spend my last CUC before the flight boarded. The waiting room after Aduana has a booth with some good CD choices of Cuban music.

Have a good trip.
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