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Where to Stay in Cuba

There is a large variety of places to stay and tourist accommodation available all over Cuba now. In most towns there is at least one state-run tourist hotel. These hotels, the most comfortable accommodation available to the tourist, are run as three chains, each offering a different level of luxury. The Islazul hotels are the equivalent of mid-rung hotels in the rest of the world, the Horizontes are semi-luxury, and the best most expensive Gran Carib chain, in presence only in major tourist destinations, is an all-out luxury chain. The accommodation quality matches international standards since most are run in collaboration with international hotel chains. Except in the first case where Cubans are allowed in, the other two are meant exclusively for foreign tourists. Prices, in US dollars, are at par with those of similar establishments worldwide.

Campismos have not proliferated to the level of these hotels but every province has at least one of these camping sites. Rather than tent sites, they are a cluster of concrete huts with a barbeque or a canteen where you can get your food. Invariably located in a picturesque area, on the beach or in the open countryside, these are actually intended as holiday homes for the Cuban worker and in the holiday season - June-July - the tourist will find it nearly impossible to get a booking at one of these. Prices are around USD 5 per cabin per night.

Casa Particulares are another option for the budget traveller. Private homes let rooms to tourists and sometimes even provide meals at an extra cost. You’ll have to supply your name and passport number to the management as required by the law. The tariff varies from region to region: the more visited the area the higher the government tax. In some tourist hotspots like Guardalavaca and Varadero where there are many tourist hotels the government does not allow these guesthouses but in most other towns and cities you’ll find many. You’ll pay between USD 15 and 25 at these, food not included.

Peso hotels are the cheapest accommodation option that a tourist has in Cuba. Only available in areas not frequented by tourists and actually meant exclusively for Cubans (the government hardly wants the valuable visitor to sleep on tatty sheets), these hotels only sometimes let out rooms to tourists. If you get a room, it’s likely to be a grubby affair that comes as cheap as a couple of dollars a night.

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