Locals in various Cuban communities offer accommodation services such as homestays to tourists all over the country. It has become popular for locals to open up their homes to guests due to the increase in the demand of tourism. Hosts are allowed to rent out a maximum of 2 rooms in their home. It is very safe and secure to stay in a Cuban homestay. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience staying at homestays in Havana, Viñales and Trinidad. Each host was kind, helpful and made me feel welcome. It is a very economical way to stay in Cuba if you are more of a budget traveller. It is one of the best and easiest ways to get to know some Cubans and learn about their culture.
Simple but clean rooms. The rooms are not fancy but they are very clean and have the comforts of a bed or two and a private washroom. You may not have hand soap or other amenities but you can bring your own that you would prefer to use as well as not expect to find a hair dryer. At least a couple of electric ports can be found for you to charge your devices.
Very large breakfast. I was always very full after breakfast. There was so much fresh fruit for myself and my fiancé that we had a hard time finishing all of what was given to us. Each host will make something a little different. In Havana, our host made us bruschetta every morning. In Viñales our host made us these massive flour tortillas.
Centrally located within the community. Homestays are located close to the city or village center being a short walk away from restaurants, museums, and other services. Ask your host for a business card before you go out and wonder the town. Their business card will have the address of your homestay and you will be able to find your way back to the right house as they can look very similar on some streets.
Air conditioner. Each homestay will have an air conditioner to keep your room cool when needed. It can be very loud while turned on. I packed a pair of ear plugs with me which helped make the sound a bit less which I would recommend putting in your ears while you sleep.
Fridge filled with beverages. In your room you will have a fridge full of water bottles, beer, and soft drinks in most homestays. When you consume any drinks, you will be expected to pay for them. Sometimes prices are listed on the side of the fridge. If the prices weren’t listed at the end of my stay I gave larger tip to cover the cost of what I took. A 1.5 litre bottle of water at a homestay is about 2 CUC. It is cheaper than buying the 500ml litre at a restaurant which is 1.50 CUC. You can ask your host where a shop is to buy water which is the cheapest way to get bottled water in Cuba.
Hot water, low shower pressure. When you visit Cuba, have an open mind that things may not work like they do back home. I never had an issue with getting hot water from the shower but the shower pressure was low at each homestay compared to showers back home in Canada.
A language barrier. Your host will ask you questions such as when you would like breakfast in the morning and your passport information. They can only speak Spanish. It may be helpful to learn a few Spanish phrases before you go. Duolingo is a free app you can download on your phone to learn some important phrases to use when speaking with your hosts.