Did you know Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean? Discovered by Christopher Colombus in 1492, Cuba is known for its amazing live music and dance scene. Cuba is also known for its world-renowned cigars, 1905s Cadillacs, and its powdery, white beaches. Your visit to Cuba will likely begin with the capital city, Havana. So let’s take a look at some of the best neighborhoods and hotels to stay in while visiting Havana.
The lively capital is home to the 1950s classic American Cadillacs and music that wafts from almost every café on almost every street. In Havana you will come face to face with dilapidated colonial buildings, art-deco architecture, and streets and stores that have a very 1950s vibe. The city oozes color, music and art. Havana has three main sections that visitors find interesting: Habana Vieja (Old Havana), Centro Habana and Vedado.
Habana Vieja – This is Havana’s iconic neighborhood and colonial heart of the city with its stunning architecture, plazas and museums. Most of the city’s sites are located in this neighborhood. Habana Vieja has four main squares and walking to each square will take you through the local streets, churches, restaurants and shops and give you a true flavor of this area.
Centro Habana – This area borders the Malecon, the Havana seawall, on one side. This is where a lot of the locals come out in the evenings to enjoy the sea breeze, and maybe partake in some local Cuban rum while playing music. The capitol modeled after Washington D.C. is located here as well as the cigar museum.
El Vedado – This is what’s known as the upscale neighborhood of Havana and has a lot of beautiful mansions and landscaped gardens. Accommodations can be the most expensive here as they feature pools and leafy patios with BBQs. The Factory of Cuban Art is located here, which Tony Bourdain reported on when he visited Havana.
Some of the places you may want to consider in Havana are a mix of hotels, airbnbs and casas or what’s called as “casas particulares” or private homes. These are typically homestays offered by locals and approved by the Cuban government. The average costs for a one night in a typical home is anywhere from 10-30 CUC depending on if it’s a shared room, and more than 30 CUC if it’s a place with a pool etc. The greatest concentration of these casas is in Havana in the neighborhoods of Habana Vieja, Centro Habana, and El Vedado. Hotels are of course generally nicer than the average casa but keep in mind power cuts and lack of hot water are quite common throughout Cuba so even in a hotel you may tend to face these issues. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to stay in Havana.
Casavana Cuba – This casa is located in the Vedado district and boasts huge, luxurious rooms with carved wooden beds and your very own balcony. This one is like a hotel because the casa is inside a skyscraper building and located about 5 miles from the city center. The accommodation is spread over two floors and while it might be pricier than your average casa, you can’t beat the luxury.
Hostal Peregrino Consulado – The owner is a pediatrician and together with his wife offers three homes in his expanded former two-room casa. Both are fluent in English and offer extra services such as airport pick-up, laundry and cocktail bar. This hostal is located about 1.4km from Old Square and 1.8km from La Bodeguita del Medio. Buffet breakfast is offered along with a shared lounge area.
Hotel Saratoga – This might very well be one of the best hotels in all of Cuba and offers comfortable beds, showers and a lovely rooftop swimming pool and hotel bar. It is about 1km from La Bodeguita del Medio and offers free Wifi and a gym. This Baroque style hotel is located close to the beach but also comes at an exorbitant price.
Central Yard Inn – Located in Vedado, this casa has a ton of greenery and a fountain and was recently renovated to fit in with the existing house. The owners speak English and offer meals and service. This place is also located in the middle of the nightlife zone which can make it convenient to walk back at night.
Hotel Florida – This hotel is located in Old Havana near Calle Obispo which is a pedestrian only street making it easy to walk back after experiencing the vibrant nightlife in this neighborhood. The hotel features a stunning Spanish style courtyard with lovely columns and checkerboard floors.
B&B by the Sea – This is one of the most popular listings on AirBnB and located near the sea in the most ancient part of the Malecon. It’s located in an apartment and the bedroom has its own bath with two single beds. It’s a 15 minute walk from Havana’s Old Town as well as the Vedado district which offers great nightlife, restaurants and bars.
Casa en la Habana – This is a spacious apartment on Airbnb for families and group travelers. It boasts a terrace and 2 bedrooms with natural light and panaromic views of the city. It’s located right in the center of Old Havana and is perfect for sightseeing.
Casa Colonial – As the name implies, it’s a charming colonial style Airbnb that hosts up to two people in a private room in a great local neighborhood. This place is walking distance to Habana Vieja. The rooftop here is gorgeous and is a great place to unwind at the end of the day. The hosts offer meals and the place offers wifi and air conditioning.
Whether you choose to stay in a hotel, a casa or an Airbnb, remember things might not always go according to plan and the standard amenities that you are typically used to at home might not apply here. Cuba is a wonderful destination to be experienced, so visit Acanela Expeditions for more information on how to book a trip to Cuba!
Written by Preethi Chandrasekhar @eagertravele