"Cuba's the hot destination of choice for many Canadians, but why stay in a drab chain hotel or resort when you can plug yourself directly into the country and stay with Cubans themselves? This site (www.casaparticular.info) offers the lowdown and links on Casa Particulares, the personal houses Cubans rent out to tourists, including homes in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and other cities. A great way to experience a side of the island you'll never see from the pampered balcony of your Varadero resort."
"The cheapest way to stay is in private homes, or "casas particulares." These are licensed by the Cuban government and often run about $25 a night, including breakfast. A good online clearinghouse can be found at www.casaparticular.info."
Contra Costa Times Dec. 28, 2003
Tom Hall of Lonely Planet answers your questions about worldwide travel
Letter of the week
I've booked a two-week tour of Cuba in November with my partner. We'll be whizzing all over the island but will be in Havana for four nights. Our hotel isn't very central, and looks as charming as Khrushchev on a cold morning. My son, who lived in Cuba for a few months, suggests we stay in a casa particular (private home) for at least a night to get more of a flavour of Cuban life. I'm keen but my know-all son can't recommend a specific place and warns they open and close at alarming speed. Can you help?
Jonna Eilers, Essex
Your son is right: staying in a casa particular is a great way to broaden your view of Cuba. Casas particulares are heavily regulated by the government, with high operational taxes - some owners find the cost and effort are not worthwhile and so quickly shut up shop. However, many casas are well established, and this is particularly true in Habana Vieja, the old town. Do your homework first: compare traveller reviews and book online or by phone. Try casaparticular.info and cuba-junky.com for up-to-date reviews and booking information.
This site does not provide a reservation service and does not get any commissions though the owners of some of the sites I refer people to may do.
The site is divided in three main sections offering casa particular:
Casa Particular in Havana (and surroundings)
Casa Particular in Other Cities (with new clickable maps)
Casa Particular Sites with links to various cities
You will find additional information on:
Travel and tourist info on Cuba
A listing of museums
Where to eat (restaurants and paladares)
Night life in Cuba (Cabarets, ...)
Guides and maps of Cuba
Biking in Cuba
Sports (diving, climbing, golf) in Cuba
Cuban cigars and how to spot fakes.
Links to useful sites to send letters, medicines, gifts (including food and cash)
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