People are afraid of the unknown. Some people still don’t understand the concept of an Airbnb. As a result, many people are still afraid to use Airbnb. I recently read a Facebook post where somebody asked, “if they were going to be on an episode of CSI if they used an Airbnb”? One person who had never used Airbnb responded to the poster saying,” she would not suggest staying in an Airbnb alone because it was unsafe”. I quickly responded and let the poster know that Airbnb was perfectly safe to use alone or with a group.
While planning my trip to Cuba, I decided that I would stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel. Airbnb allowed me to interact with the locals Cubans and it was financially cheaper.
When someone uses Airbnb for the first time they receive $40 off their first booking. I had each friend book an Airbnb in different cities that we would be staying at. As a result, we had a discount of $120. I stayed in Cuba 8 days, total lodging for the week was $578. Splitting the cost with 4 other people, I paid only $152.
La Habana, Cuba
The first Airbnb was located in La Habana, Cuba near the Malecon. I loved the location because of the Malecon: is an 8km seawall located on the coast of Havana stretching from Old Havana-Centro Havana and ending in Vedado. On any given night you could find the wall filled with thousands of people hanging out, listening to music, laughing, drinking, and eating.
We stayed here 3 nights. Please read the fine print before booking. We didn’t notice that this place charges $10 after the 2nd guest per night. At the last minute, we had to pay more money due to having 5 guest. Total $230 for 3 nights.
The room itself had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room and balcony. While the rooms were a decent size, the beds were thin and small. All bedrooms had air condition, a nice relief from the heat and humidity.
The host name was Piti and he was great. Piti did not speak English, and we speak very little English, so it was very interesting to communicate. Despite our communication challenges are needs were met. We arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the airport. Soon after arriving at the Casa, Piti drove us to several destinations: Hotel Nacional in an attempt to exchange money, Paladar Vistamar for dinner reservations and Cabaret Parisien for a show. Down the street from this location is a small restaurant called Toke which has really cheap food.
The second Airbnb we stayed in was in Varadero. I absolutely loved this location, it was a 5-minute walk to Varadero Beach. The house was huge and had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 televisions, living room, dining room, kitchen, yard, and shower outside so that you can rinse off after coming from the beach. The house also had a house phone which is great if you need to make local phone calls. Total for 1 night $120.
Remember to bring a small washcloth because only large towels were provided.
In advance, I asked,” if we could have a cooking class by the host Maria”. She prepped the food in advance but she showed us how to cook the food. We had pork, rice & beans, plantains, cucumbers, tomatoes and flan for dessert. We paid $20 each. For drinks, Maria’s brother Jorge bought us beer. After telling him we did not drink beer he was shocked and wondered why we didn’t as he had bought lots of beer for us to consume.
In the morning, Maria also prepared breakfast for 5 CUC. It was the best breakfast as we had not had breakfast the first 4 days in Cuba. She cooked the following: omelets, ham and cheese slices, mini pancakes, fruit platter, bread and freshly squeezed juice.
Maria and Jorge (siblings) were the best host and would highly recommend staying at this casa. Jorge spoke English and Maria only spoke Spanish. Maite is the owner of the Airbnb and responds promptly to booking request and questions.
The 3rd Airbnb was in Trinidad. Prior to arriving the host did not answer email or return calls but Cosme and his wife were terrific hosts. Upon arrival, we served freshly squeezed juice. The hosts also provide you with a pamphlet of things to do in the city and services you can get such as massage, laundry service etc. Total $108 for 2 nights.
We were shown to our rooms which had a twin and a queen bed inside. I loved the shower the best as it had a full shower head with hot water. They also had a fridge with drinks inside for sale. This is great as you don’t see convenience stores selling snacks and drinks.
They also provided breakfast for 5 CUC- fresh fruit, cake, omelet, bread, and butter.
Cosme was really helpful. Thursday night we decided to go out on the town, he made sure we had a taxi that picked us up from the house and promptly arrived when were ready to go back to the casa. He also found a taxi back to Havana for a cheaper price than what we paid to arrive in Trinidad.
4th Airbnb was located in Old Havana. The room had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room and wifi. Wifi did not work on the first day but did work during the evening on the second day. Total cost $120 for 2 nights.
Our host Santiago did not speak English but had an English/Spanish dictionary available. Our first day, Santiago walked around with us in town and showed us places to eat. He also made sure to find a driver to Vinales when our driver did not arrive.
Culturally the family often hangs together at the home. So every day we saw Santiago, his sister Gloria her husband and some cousins. This did not bother me at all but know even if you rent the house be prepared to have potential guests who may come over to cook breakfast or visit with one another.
Have you tried Airbnb before? If so, how was your experience?