Is it legal? Is it safe? What are the prices? How do I book?
As a consequence of the legalization of private property in Cuba, small family businesses began to proliferate, such as the one that offers the possibility of staying in private homes.
We would like to inform you that these ventures are fully controlled and operate under the parameters set by law. We cannot guarantee 100% that there is no one on the whole island who practices them clandestinely for us. In addition, because of the general functioning of the rest of the tourism-related businesses on the island, it is quite complicated for Cubans to break the rules for a long time. The fines and penalties are so high.
How does it work?
It is totally legal and there is the following control:
- Not everyone can do it. The government opens a deadline for applications, enables a number of accommodations and closes the quota until further notice. In that previous inspection, it is analyzed that the house fulfills a series of conditions and depending on its size and if it is located in a province more or less tourist a quantity is fixed. This tax will have to be paid by the homeowners each month to the government regardless of whether they receive guests or not. Also, there are periodically inspections to verify that the house continues to maintain the same conditions.
- In addition to this amount, Cubans are obliged to report to the authorities the reception of guests and to pay a second tax consisting of a percentage based on the number of people they receive each month. In fact, the first thing they ask of you when you arrive at each house is the passports to be able to make that report. If you are caught hosting someone without warning you may lose your hosting license for life.
Why is it interesting to stay in private houses?
On the one hand, it’s a way of helping the people of the country. The staying in private homes is a help not only in terms of money contribution, also helps to continue entrepreneurial initiatives in many more sectors.
On the other hand, it is an enormous opportunity to get to know the country from the perspective of those who live there witnessing how a Cuban house works from the inside. Cubans are experts at making you feel like your family in less than an hour. They strive to help the experience of foreigners to be positive and demonstrate a generosity that manages to alleviate all the shortcomings that the country has at other levels. They are extremely educated and have a great vocation of service with the one who comes from outside.
What will you find? How much does it cost?
There is a fairly wide spectrum between the different types of accommodation: larger houses, villas in which you can have the property just for you. Prices vary and are always negotiable. Most of the time they don’t have wifi, although there are some exceptions.
Some accommodations also offer the option of breakfast, lunch and dinner with prior notice. Laundry is not a usual service. Sometimes you will manage to negotiate breakfast included and other times you will pay for it separately. Prices range from 3 to 5 CUCs.
The reservations can be made in a variety of ways:
– Through airbnb. These reservations cannot be made via airbnb from within Cuba. You have two options: ask a relative or friend to make the reservation from outside with your user or contact the owners to formalize the reservation directly in person.
– In the traditional way. As connections are complicated in Cuba, many of these particular accommodations are not published anywhere. Start walking, ask questions, call from a cabin, arrive by recommendation of an acquaintance, etc. This is the way to get better prices than there are on the Internet.
Normally it is paid in cash at the end of the stay.
All houses appear in Airbnb but are willing to make better prices if you contact them directly.
– Ignacio and Lora: 5 minutes from Old Havana. A very clean house with very full breakfasts. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / Mobile: 0053 5 827 24 49 / Fixed: 7 8660 188
– Lilli and Alberto: in the heart of Old Havana with its own wifi network. It’s a totally refurbished colonial apartment. They don’t make breakfasts but they’re next to a very good breakfast buffet. Contact: email@example.com / 0053 5281 9726
-Los Cayos: Pulman Cayo Coco resort. According to the Cubans, the best in the area, although you can’t compare it with others.
Some details to keep in mind
Cubans love children. There are no restrictions on staying with a family. In fact, they found it is incredible that in Europe there were public spaces or celebrations that children are not allowed to go to.
The treatment of foreigners in Cuba in general is very good, which is why it is important that those of us who go from abroad treat them with the same reciprocity.
In conclusion, we hope you enjoy your experience in Cuba!