So you want to take a trip to Havana. But where to stay?
You could always stay in the ostentatious Hotel National, former home to gangsters and playboys, now home to very pasty looking tourists from Canada and the US.
You’ll get the white-glove treatment there.
And don’t forget paying 5 times the normal price for a ride in a fancy taxi.
When I was looking for accomodations, I didn’t find many hotel options, so I asked around for recommendations and booked a hotel through a Mexican travel agency.
We ended up at Hotel Vedado. Not recommended. The water was hot, but that was about all. Bad food, bad beds. Should have listened to Frommers. Especially on the surly staff. The front desk staff were most unhelpful and nearly rude.
I would highly advise choosing a casa particular (private home where you can rent a room) instead. I can’t speak for them all, but ours was clean, bright and comfortable. I realized later everyone I spoke who visited Cuba multiple times stayed in casa particulares.
We had our own private entrance.
If I needed advice on catching a taxi or the best beaches, proprietor Ana Iris directed me in the right place while chatting in her living room. Right after she made me a cup of that hot, Cuban coffee, that is.
Plus, the neighbors are friendly.
So, to sum up: look for the casa particulares for clean, comfortable and a place to stay with the personal touch.