Most hotels in Cuba are fairly old, fairly grand, and fairly pricey. Harking back to the golden days of Cuban tourism in the early 20th century the hotels are beautiful, if not in need of a bit of TLC. Costing around 100 CUC (£76) a night this seems a bit steep for the average traveller; I’d much rather the 30 CUC a night casa particular.
Casa particulars are private accommodation in Cuba ranging from a bed and breakfast to your own apartment, but in most cases are simply a room in someone’s house. As hostels and private rented apartments are still emerging concepts casa particulars are by far the most common type of accommodation; although Airbnb has reached Havana!
Just because hotel’s rooms are out of your price range doesn’t mean the facilities are. Many hotels offer access to their pools for a small fee. I’m not entirely sure how this works in peak season when the hotels are bound to be full, but in June there was always space and you can pay as little as 3 CUC, about £2.30, to use the pool. Trust me, there is nothing better than retreating from the seemingly inescapable humidity of the city and spending an afternoon by a pool reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.
If you are in the area I would recommend Hotel Los Jazmines in Viñales and Hotel La Uniόn in Cienfuegos. Los Jazmines is a pink colonial mansion perched on a hillside overlooking Viñales valley, and although a little way out of town it’s worth a trip up there. In definite need of a little TLC, the basin of the whole place would benefit from a lick of paint and some new patio furniture wouldn’t be unwelcome, the view across Viñales valley is breath-taking and more than makes up for it.
Hotel La Uniόn (seen in this tip’s featured photo) is located in central Cienfuegos and is 3-minute walk from Parque José. It’s a majestic hotel founded in 1869, which has been extensively renovated in keeping with its colonial style with echoes of the Jazz Age. It’s a really beautiful hotel with a fabulous shady pool area that makes you forget you are in the heart of a bustling city.
Photo Credits: Emily Wilson