Accommodation and service levels in Cuba have improved in recent years but there is an ongoing trade embargo and lack of investment in infrastructure. Even the premium-rated accommodation can occasionally suffer with unreliable water and electricity supply. Service levels in government hotels, shops and restaurants are generally poor as this is not a service-oriented western culture. Of course, this is all part of seeing the 'real Cuba' and while we think you'll be pleasantly surprised by most of the hotels we use, you should be prepared for simply furnished rooms, some out-dated furniture and varying levels of service. Most of the hotels have air conditioning.
In Havana we stay at the memorable Hotel Nacional. Although some of the rooms do look a little dated now, the history in this hotel is incredible, having hosted Hollywood royalty, provided the setting for an important meeting between the US and Sicilian mafia families, been a site of the Cold War and seen countless other changes in Havana's turbulent past. With an enormous garden and beautiful views over the bay, it is a fitting beginning and end to this Cuban journey.
On Cayo Ensenachos, we use the Hotel Iberostar as larger hotels are the norm in Cuba's beach areas. This 5 star resort has access to two white-sand beaches, a variety of pool and spa areas, watersport opportunities and a great bar.
In Trinidad we stay in casas particulares. This is a Spanish term meaning private accommodation or homestay in Cuba. Staying in a casa offers the visitor a unique opportunity to experience Cuban hospitality in local accommodation adapted for tourism. The number of rooms, quality, facilities and access to other areas of the house such as the living room varies massively but as a general rule Casas are clean, centrally located and can host only a handful of guests. Casas are generally run by the owner and members of the family that live there and the standard of English spoken will vary from zero to fluent, which is a good opportunity for you to practice your Spanish. They are often full of history, family photos and memorabilia, providing you with a deeper insight to Cuban life. Virtually all of the rooms have private facilities but on rare occasions it may be necessary to share. Your Explore Leader will coordinate accommodation arrangements on tour.