It’s becoming easier than ever for Americans to travel to Cuba, and you can bet Airbnb is getting in on the action—it’s the fastest-growing market the home-sharing site has ever launched. In Havana, that might have something to do with the network of casas particulares, thousands of home rentals that were already in place before the U.S. softened its travel restrictions last year. As more of these casas get on board with Airbnb, it gives travelers the opportunity to connect with Cubans in a way they may not have otherwise been able to do. As the company’s co-founder Brian Chesky says, interactions between Cuban hosts and their guests is like “person-to-person diplomacy,” not to mention the setup gives Cubans the chance to make significantly more than the country-wide average of $23/month.
Entire-place rentals in Havana currently hover around $80/night, or you can just rent a room for an average of $58. Here are 10 of our favorite rentals in the city.
1. Casa Shanti 2. B&B by the Sea 3. Posada1930 4. Spanish Mansion 5. Modern apartment 6. Private two-bedroom 7. Semi-private rental 8. Colonial mansion 9. Two-bedroom apartment 10. Vedado Palace
Erica Jackson Curran is a former alt-weekly editor turned moonlight freelancer based in Richmond, Virginia.
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At just $39/night, Casa Shanti is a steal in the vibrant Vedado neighborhood. Past guests say the private apartment is clean and well-located near the waterfront, nightclubs, restaurants and markets. It has a kitchen and sitting areas, plus a washing machine in the bathroom.
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The whitewashed "B&B by the Sea" is a Colonial-style guesthouse in the historic Malecon Habanero neighborhood, which overlooks the Havana Bay. Three guest rooms with air conditioning, private bathrooms and sea views are available, while the common areas include the balconies and living-dining room, where you can eat breakfast or dinner prepared by the staff. Many of the city's main attractions, like the Museum of the Revolution and Cathedral Square, are within a 10-15-minute walk.
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With private rooms located off of a plant-filled courtyard, the Posada1930 habitacion invites guests to stay in a historic home in the central district of Plaza de la Revolution. Shared spaces include a lounge, the courtyard and a rooftop terrace with views of the city. Breakfast service is optional and includes fresh fruit and juice, bread and omelets.
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Each of the three guest rooms in the "Spanish Mansion" have two double beds and a separate but private bathroom across the hall. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and there's also an air conditioner, safe, refrigerator, TV and regular cleaning. Common areas include a lounge, kitchen, dining room, gardens and rooftop. Located in Vedado, it's three blocks from the seawall and a five-minute taxi ride to Old Havana.
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This private, modern apartment is near Plazuela del Angel in bustling Old Havana. There are two balconies, two beds (a double and a single), a fully stocked kitchen and rooftop access. Cleaning is handled daily by a woman who lives next door, and the host provides airport pickup and local recommendations.
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This private two-bedroom apartment has a small balcony overlooking the sea. There's a colorful living room, dining room, a large kitchen and updated bathroom. Past guests say Superhost Manuel has been known to stock the fridge with fresh juices and provide assistance making restaurant reservations and airport transfers.
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This semi-private rental has three bedrooms, bathrooms, a den and dining room on the first floor. Upstairs, guests share another den, terraces, the kitchen and a large bar area with the home's owner. Laundry and light housekeeping services are provided, and breakfast can be arranged. The Art Deco-style house is located in central Vedado.
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Experience life with a Cuban family in this 1920s-era "Colonial Mansion" in Vedado. Guests have a private bedroom, bathroom and terrace, plus access to the sprawling house, which is shared with other guests and the family. Be prepared to holler for the house matron, Onelia, when you arrive, chat politics with patriarch Alberto, play dominoes with the kids, and wake up to the sound of the youngest family member's pet rooster.
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A jungle-like terrace is the star of this private two-bedroom apartment, and most guests also rave about host Humberto, who welcomes visitors with mojitos and stocks the fridge with plenty of food. The apartment has a kitchen and dining area, plus access (via ladder) to an additional, communal treehouse-style terrace where you can get to know Humberto and his young family.
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Looking for luxe? The $421/night average on this "Vedado Palace" might seem steep, but it's not so bad when you consider that the place includes four bedrooms, a private driver (with a '56 Chevy), daily cleaning and breakfast, and a private security guard. In addition, it's ideally situated on the corner of a main street, and there's a large kitchen, breezy terraces, a billiard room and a rooftop terrace with views to the sea.