There are plenty of nation-run hotels in Cuba that are often set in old colonial buildings and are quite nice as well, but they simply can’t compare to the experience of staying at a Casa particular.

Casa particular literally means “private home” in Spanish.

It is very similar to a bed and breakfast or a homestay, but casas in Cuba will provide a more in-depth experience of staying with a local family, eating homemade Cuban food, learning about the nation’s culture and history from real people, and possibly you may have a chance to smoke cigars or sip the rum with the host family.

Here are some tips to make your stay at Casa particular more enjoyable!

1. Listen to the sound of the city
On the street in Cuba, you will hear various genres of music flowing here and there, sounds of TVs from your neighbor’s houses, people chatting, and the voices of street peddlers.
At the beginning, you may be annoyed with all those noises, but then you will immerse yourself in the city and realize that those sounds present the spirit of Cuba.

2. Observe the old buildings
Many of the buildings in the Old Town were built between 18th and early 20th centuries. Cuban people keep renovating them and continue to live there. Most of buildings are rattled, but if you observe them well, you will discover nice antique tiles and doorknobs, or modern parts which match perfectly to the old things. All parts of the building are telling you its history.

3. Be treated in Cuban way
Cuban people have great hospitality. They try to give away to the guests as much as they can. You may receive the words such as “This is your home!”

4. Enjoy Cuban home cooking
Most of casas offer homemade breakfast. It is simple, but you can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables that are usually organic and very juicy.
You can also request lunch and dinner if you like.

5. Communicate with hosts
Even if you speak a very little Spanish, try to talk with Cuban hosts. Since chatting is the best entertainment for Cuban people, they are very open and friendly and you will feel comfortable to be with them.

6. Inventions for living
Cuban people are inventors because they have to live in circumstances where things are not sufficient enough. Try to observe how they are inventing things to live.

7. Consider about the living situation in Cuba
The infrastructure of Cuba is still undeveloped. For example, the areas where you can get tap water is less than the area where you cannot. Therefore you should appreciate it even if the water pressure of the shower is not strong enough or not hot enough.

8. See Cuban way of friendship
While you’re staying at case, you will see many people come in to talk with the hosts and may wonder who is the family members. Cuban people are very close to each other and have strong relationships between friends, colleagues and neighbors same as their family.

9. Talk with other travelers
If you see other guests in your casa, try to talk with them and exchange the information. It it much easier to communicate with other guests than staying at hotel since you are staying at the same casa (house)!

10. Learn how to say Good-bye in Cuban way
You might feel a little sad when you leave your casa if you have a really good hosts.
Don’t forget to give a big hug and a kiss to them and show your appreciation!