Realizing that tourism was
necessary to bring in much needed revenue to the country, but knowing that there
was a lack of acceptable accommodations, the government starting allowing the
rent of private rooms in houses. You will be approached by commissioned people
who will offer to show you some in the area. Many times these are very good
deals, and allow you to get a glimpse of Cuban life you might otherwise miss.
We stayed in a great casa
particular in the beach town, near Havana, Guanaba. You can find it
at Ave. 9na. A No. 47812. Tel: 0053-7-964521 (you canít call from the U.S.).
The proprietor is Sra. Luisa Diaz Acanda. The three rooms are upstairs with a
private stair entrance. Each room has a private bath, huge balcony space, mini-refrigerators stocked with sodas,
beer and a bottle of rum.The charge is $30 per room, negotiable.
When entering the country,
immigration will probably require that you have reservations for at least two
nights. Since Havana hotels are often booked, this is a good idea. The hotels we
had planned to stay at were booked. And again, itís hard to book a room from
the U.S. directly since one is unable to place phone calls to Cuba.
Find a travel agent in
Canada or Mexico to help in that regard. Most of the Havana Vieja hotels,
restored and housed in centuries-old mansions, will cost $80-150 during the high
season, cheaper in summer. I can highly recommend the Dutch-owned Golden Tulip
Parque Central and the newly opened Hotel Florida, a smaller, 35-room hotel with
rooms around a gorgeous courtyard. They both have good restaurants and bars. The
food at the Golden Tulip is exceptionally good where I had an $8US paella that
was the best I have ever had, including Spain. You can reserve a room at the Golden
Tulip by calling the Netherlands at 35-284588 or fax 35-284681. Or call
Canada at (416) 601-0343, fax (416) 601-0346. The Hotel Florida, built in
1835, is at Calle Obispo #252. The Cuban phone # is 33-8693.
Other good choices are the
Hotel Sevilla, The Ambos Mundos, The Inglaterra, The Hotel Nacional (designed
nearly identical to Palm Beachís Breakers Hotel), and the Hotel Plaza. All of
these can be booked at A. Nash Travel in Canada. Telephone: 800-818-2004, ext.
221 or 905-238-914, ext. 221, fax: 800- 818-2005.