Tag Archives: housing
February 14, 2004

Cuba: Housing Recommendations

Kai, Joe, and Emily in the Hotel Colina (20k image)Part the Fourth: Part the Second: Housing Recommendations

La Havana (Vedado)
Hotel Colina

I mentioned the relative lack of bad associated with the Hotel Colina in my last post and should start this one off by recommending it wholly. The Hotel Colina is a little pricey and not at all what one would consider a 4-star hotel, but it gets the job done. We’ve also used the Hotel Colina as a get-out-of-airport free card – remember that you might have to tell an official where you’re planning to stay. (I don’t know what they’d do if you told them you didn’t know, but do you really want to risk that?)

The Hotel Colina is also located in a good spot, worthy of being the starting point for your tour of Cuba. Situated at the top of a hill in the Vedado district, the hotel is right next to the University of Havana – one of those good neighborhoods. If you happen to point your walking shoes downhill, you’ll find yourself on the scenic Malecón. From there you can see the Moorish fort that houses Havana’s harbor lighthouse. Within walking distance, the lighthouse is a great landmark for all things Old Havana – The Prado, Calle Obispo, the Museos de Bellas Artes and la Revoluccion.

Rooms at the Hotel Colina are not terribly cheap – expect to pay about $40 a night for two people. Also, the service can be hit-or-miss. While the women at the desk will get to you eventaully, their communist work ethic might butt up against your desire to offload your pack in a hurry.

February 5, 2004

Cuba: Finding a Place to Stay

Arrendador Inscripto (2k image)Part the Fourth: Part the First: Finding a Place to Stay

Even something as simple as finding a decent place to stay in Cuba can be challenging. Not because decent places are in short supply, but rather because the system isn’t quite what most tourists are expecting.

Of course, the most common option is to go in search of a hotel, right? Well, you’re in luck. In most towns that tourists are likely to visit, the government will have plenty of hotels set up for you. (Remember, every business in communist Cuba is owned by the government – if you hold out for a private hotel, you’ll end up sleeping on a park bench.) Cuban hotels, in my experience, come in three varieties: “normal,” resort, and Cuban-only.

Unless you’re already Cuban (and if you are, why are you reading this travel guide?) it’s a difficult sell to convince them that you should be able to stay in a Cuban-only hotel, so let’s just discard that option. Resorts are expensive, at least in relation to other costs in Cuba. If you want to spend $40-$50 per night, per person, be my guest. Might as well rent a car while you’re at it, too. But if you’re traveling on a budget, the normal hotels are probably your only option.