Whilst the island of Cuba is a friendly and exciting patchwork of colour and creativity, unfortunately the same cannot be said for some of the state-run hotels that still provide the vast majority of accommodation for tourists. They can be a bit of a drab affair in some destinations, and often accentuate the already significant gulf between visitors and residents. The solution? Stay in the newly legalised Cuban B&B homestays!A Cuban take on homestays, Casas Particulares are as authentic as it gets. If getting close to the real Cuba is on your wishlist – welcome home. More memorable and homely than a hotel, with the personal attention of your host, they make for a refreshing, and authentic insight into the real Cuba. Accommodation is, naturally, as varied as Cuban homes are. So expect idiosyncratic touches, heaps of character, simple but homely furnishings and hearty fare. Cleanliness is a given – and all rooms have en suite facilities and either a fan or air conditioning. This is Cuba at its most relaxed and welcoming.Instead of just scratching the surface of a destination, you get a real insight into the local culture, and the chance to share customs and stories with your host. You could stay with a doctor, a waiter, a mechanic, or a retired professor – local people are proud to welcome adventure travellers. So one person’s experience will never be the same as another’s. It’s most definitely one of the unmissable Cuban experiences. Upon arrival into Trinidad, you’ll be introducted to casas particulares by way of welcome drinks in the patio of Alberto & Osmary’s Casa. This central home contains a bar and restaurant, and acts as the meeting point for Exodus groups in the town. There is someone available here 24 hours a day, should help be required. You’ll soon be introduced to your host for the next two nights, who will then show you to your nearby casa which will always be within walking distance of Alberto’s casa. For single travellers, we always strive to room in a house where other Exodus clients are also staying, however this cannot always be guaranteed. Staying as a guest in a traditional Cuban property, often with several generations of a family, is a memorable and rewarding insight into the local lifestyle and culture; far more exciting than another hotel.On the first evening in Trinidad, everyone will enjoy a wonderful home-cooked meal together in Alberto and Osmary’s delightful property. The menu changes every day, but often they’ll serve up delicious lobster and fish dishes. If you’re lucky, the regular neighbourhood musicians will also be present to expertly recite some classic Cuban songs, most of which will already be familiar to you at this point. The ambience is always blissful here, as we stay up and enjoy the balmy Caribbean evenings. Those who have packed their salsa shoes may want to take a stroll into the town centre to try out some of the many live music venues. Tips for making the most of your casa experience Brush up on your Spanish! You’ll enjoy your stay even more if you’re able to swap even a few words with your hosts (most Cubans don’t speak English). Your motivation for this can be ensuring you get your eggs just how you like them in the morning – actually, we’re routinely told that breakfast is usually a real highlight. Don’t let the language barrier worry you, go with an open mind and all barriers can be overcome… even if it takes a few rums!
Your Words, Not Ours
Q: What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
“Staying with a lovely young family in a Casa Particular in Trinidad – it was great to see how Cubans are now able to show a bit of enterprise to take advantage of the tourist industry and improve their own standard of living. They were so friendly and couldn’t do enough to help. Also provided the biggest breakfast I’ve ever had – it went on and on!” – Claire Smith (A Taste of Cuba)
“Being given a friendship bracelet by the landlady in Trinidad and the welcome in all of the casa’s. Welcoming but not intrusive.” – Karen Gray (A Taste of Cuba)
“Trinidad and staying in a Casa. Meeting the Cuban people.” – Martin Lloyd
“The personal owners of the Casa could not have been more welcoming, could not have done more to make our stay in their home fun and memorable.” – Terence Whalley (Cuban Highlights Ride)