More of a Hostel, then a private home, Casa Particulares are the budget way to visit Cuba. All tourists to Cuba can rent rooms in licensed private homes, they are called Casas Particulares and they are everywhere, easy to find, and a great way to meet richer Cuban people. With some luck, and good choice, the neighbors, you will be immersed by people earning normal Cuban wages and you can learn about Cuba. These homes are more like a Hostels, then a private room, they are very organized, they advertise, have business cards, it is a business. This is not private; the government knows of them, they are licensed, the government knows what you are doing.
What is the secret to room negotiations here in Cuba?
Never commit for more than one day, unless you get your price.
Do not reserve a room in advance for more than one day.
Do not make a reservation over the Internet. The private owners are extremely anxious, they do not have customers.
This sign tell you it is a licensed Private Home. These signs are everywhere.
Tricky Private Homes
The owner of the Casa Particulare I live in gave me a discount.
The owner said,
“The normal price is 30, we give you 20, because your friend of our friend from Norway.”
I am thinking,
- The correct value for this room is 5-10.
She then says,
“No breakfast, and you cannot bring friend over, and you must pay in advance.”
Havana Habana Cuba Friday, December 11, 2009
By Andres Hidalgo with editing Travel Gear
Why did she really give me a discount?
They told me the price by email was 25 CUC.
I came to the property; the owners are friends with my Norwegian friend.
I did not reserve a room.
I counted the number of days I would stay, and showed them.
I asked, what my discount is for 8 days,
They said, we cannot give you discount.
I decided to move in at the 25 CUC rate.
(I do not like Cuba; I want to sit in my room and read, and leave.)
When I arrive to move in, they ask me how many days I will stay.
I will pay for one day.
Why would I pay for longer, there are 100’s of Casas Particulares around.
Maybe I find a better price.
She says, we will give you 20, but no breakfast, and then added later, no friends.
The stupid part, I was going to pay 25 CUC, I was committed at 25 CUC, I am not in this country long enough to spend my whole time working to save 40 Dollars. I save from 40-55 Dollars by getting the 5 CUC discount per day.
Because I said, I am going to pay daily, she gave me a discount. Cuba is the same as any country, the longer the commitment, the greater the discount. I am sure; I can get a Casa Particulare for 15 CUC, if not 10, but cannot be bothered to try.
Negotiations in the Cuban Casa Particulares is dependent upon reservations, like any other Hotel on the planet, if you reserve the room, you reserve the price. There is no shortage of rooms in Cuba, I think there is an overabundance or rooms, and there is a shortage of tourist.
How I would rent a room if I come back to Cuba.
I would make sure I arrive early in the morning, so that I had time to visit many Casas Particulares. I would look for a room in Centro Habana, close to the Parque Central. If you are too close, scammers, trying to be your friend, continually bother you.
I would want:
Price of 10-15 CUC
Kitchen Privileges, so I can cook the cheap food I can easily purchase.
No Meals Included
(If you eat in the Casa, there is no reason to learn about the country.)
Permission to have two people in the room.
Permission to bring lovers into the room.
Locks on doors, security is very lax, and they do steal, it will be your friend…
The longer you stay, the bigger the discount.
Allowed to do my laundry for free, or they do for free.
Couples can easily pay half the price, here is the big savings.
1-5 days 15-20 is OK
5-10 days 15 is OK
10 and over, then 10 is OK
A person outside your room, makes about 20 CUC per month, do not feel sorry for the owners of Casa Particulares, they are rich. Theses are my opinions; I have only been in country for 14 days, I this is my first time. I am sure you can get better prices. However, I suspect the majority of you will do worst. I also was living in an unlicensed room for four days, I am sure you can get better prices, if you somehow get outside the government controls.