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Looking for a bed in Cuba: The best hotels and hosts



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With a limited internet connection, Cuba is one of the few places where it’s still possible to relax

Cuba offers various options for accommodation. Either luxurious hotel such as an Airbnb-like offline operating net of private homestays —  Felix Lipov / Shutterstock Cuba offers luxurious hotels, such as the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, or an Airbnb-like offline net of private homestays — Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

If I was ever to try and drop off-grid to write a book, Cuba is where I would go. Other people often choose Greece or Croatia to do this, but I would find some sleepy village on the coast near Havana.

That’s because on top of being incredibly beautiful and full of lovely people, it can be very difficult to get online on the Caribbean island. Cuba is perhaps one of the few places that it’s actually still possible to relax.

The small amount of internet has advantages and disadvantages for travellers, other than being cut off from your social networks. It could make it quite difficult to find accommodation if you’re used to only planning a few days ahead.

Thankfully, Cubans are a wily people. The government recently allowed them to form their own small businesses and so many of them set up homestays – just like Airbnb without the Airbnb.

Every owner will have contacts for the next few towns along the tourist trail, and family doing the same all over the island. So you just need to tell them where you’re going, and they’ll sort out the next stay for you.

Some of the houses to rent are modern an well equipped; some are on a rougher side. However, everything is always clean —  Ben FinchSome of the houses to rent are modern and well equipped; some are a bit on the rougher side. However, everything is always clean. Almost — Ben Finch

Just like with Airbnb, you’re taking your chances with quality and reviews. Some of the apartments and houses are quite simply amazing, others are a little on the rougher side. However, they are almost always clean.

By arranging your next stay through your current hosts, you also don’t have to pay the exact price quoted on the internet. You can revive the age-old trade of haggling, and discover just how fun it is.

Obviously, there are hotels in Cuba. These are amazing! Cuban hotels are aimed at western tourists who are willing to splash their cash. There’s very little in the budget range.

The Varadero resort is full of five-star hotels built onto the beachfront — simonovstas / ShutterstockThe Varadero resort is full of five-star hotels built onto the beachfront — simonovstas / Shutterstock

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, for example, is set in acres of its own sunny grounds, has bars, restaurants and entertainment, and is full of old colonial beauty.

If you prefer something more modern, then the Melia Santiago de Cuba is a building that stands out against the ancient Spanish buildings. And it’s incredibly luxurious.

Or there’s Varadero, which is the island’s resort town. It is full of four and five star hotels built onto the beachfront. You will have metres to walk, daiquiri in hand, from the sun-lounger by the pool to the sun-lounger by the sea.

So don’t panic about the lack of internet. It’s easy enough to find what accommodation. It’s just a bit old-fashioned, like the beautiful Chevies that roar down the cobbled streets.

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