necessities which must be provided whenever a dwelling is rented, such as a
modern bathroom facility and a functioning air conditioner or fan in each bedroom.
Considering this, foreigners can expect a well maintained and functional dwelling
whenever they stay at a casa particular. All licensed casas will always display a
small, blue and white sign on the front door as shown in the image above.
There are three main types of casas particulares: completely independent, semi-
private, and communal (hostel).
A completely private, or independent, house is one where you receive the keys to
the main door and have full use of the house or apartment. This is a great option
if you are looking for complete independence and privacy. If this is your desire,
just be sure to rent a casa which only has one bedroom. If you rent a large casa
which has several bedrooms, but you only pay to occupy one, then there is a pos-
sibility that the landlord might rent the other rooms to different guests, thereby im-
pacting your privacy. All bedroom doors have their own locks, so in most cases,
this is not a major issue. If you are traveling with friends, a common option is to
rent a large apartment, with each person occupying a separate bedroom.
Another popular option is to stay in a semi-private casa. In this case you are
simply renting a bedroom in a Cuban house. Usually this option is slightly cheaper
than renting a completely private apartment. This option offers you the opportunity
to interact more regularly with the Cuban homeowner and other people living in
the house. Your bedroom will always be private, with its own locking door, but the
general living quarters of the house, such as the living room, terrace and kitchen,
will be shared. This casa rental option is commonly referred to as Renta de Hab-
itacion meaning Room Rental in English. In certain cases, these semi-private cas-
as might offer a small, private living area in addition to the private room. The
house layout may be such that there is a semi-private apartment within the main
home. Perhaps the only area of the house which is shared is the main front en-
The last type of casa particular is the hostel. Generally, these are large apart-
ments or houses which are broken up into many different rooms or dorms, each
rented out separately. As opposed to semi-private casas which might only have
one or two rooms for rent, hostels might have dozens of rooms, with multiple beds
per room. Hostels in Cuba are usually very cheap, especially if you are traveling
solo. If you are traveling as a couple or with friends, the relative difference in price
as compared to the other casa particular options is minimal. While a hostel envir-
onment will offer you an opportunity to interact with foreigners from all over the
world, your opportunity to interact on a familiar level with a Cuban host family, like
you would have in a semi-private casa, will be reduced. In this guide I have not
reviewed hostels in Cuba, but there is a lot of information available online.