Cuba’s casas particulares are already old hat for backpackers and other budget-minded types hailing from outside the US.
Europeans, Latin Americas, Canadians, and others have been digging the casa particular scene since the 1990s, when the Cuban government began to permit private citizens to rent out rooms in their houses to tourists.
Cuba’s privately-owned rooms generally cost between CUC$15 ($16) and CUC$50 ($52) for a double room per night, with a great number clustering in the CUC$20-25 ($21-$26) range.
The casa particular is a budget traveler’s dream: cheap and simple, with breakfast on offer for a few extra CUCs, or convertible pesos. Many casas also provide dinner at a very reasonable additional cost. Some offer private bathrooms; others provide shared facilities. Across Havana’s gorgeous Vedado and Miramar neighborhoods, many casas particulares take up space in gorgeous old mansions on romantic, tree-lined streets.
The casa particular accommodation form bears more similarity to gîtes, the French owner-occupied guesthouse accommodation model than it does to the North American bed & breakfast. The owners are on site or easily accessible, and the vibe is friendly and familiar. Guests feel as if they are staying in a home, not a hotel.
Very clearly (thankfully, even) there is also no domestic Cuban B&B industry churning out chintz and ruffled window curtains for a particular look. You can be fairly sure that your casa particular will be outfitted simply, but beyond that a unified aesthetic will be difficult to identify.
Most crucially for tourists interested in meeting locals and getting a sense of life in Cuba, casas particulares allow for extensive socializing between owners and tourists.