Visiting Havana – FAQ About Hotels Casas And Cigars

8 Feb


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I get many requests for information on visiting Havana/Cuba and advice on where to stay, where to find cigars, what rollers to visit, what restaurants to frequent, etc …

So here is a FAQ Guide compiled by me with Alexander “Lexvero” in Stockholm/Sweden from over 90 mail exchanges we had in the last month where I provided him with my information on Havana for his upcoming trip.

Enjoy !



Q: Where should I stay? Casa or Hotel?

A: Casas are preferable as Hotels are overpriced and underwhelming in general. In addition you are often faced with situations where you cannot host cuban friends in the hotel’s facilities.

Hotel recommendations:

If hotels are the way to go for you, then here is a list of recommendations.

1. Hotel Parque Central – but only the new tower – centrally located and 50 meters from one of my favorite restaurants, the Centro Asturiano on Prado 309.

2. Hotel Saratoga

3. Hostal Conde de Villanueva – a very small hotel, just a few rooms, great LCDH

4. Melia Habana

Casa Particulares:

A Casa Particular ( sort of B & B ) is a steal at 25 to 40 CUC per Casa depending on quality and location. And you will have a great connection to Cuban reality as you meet your landlords every day. There are of course higher end Casas for the those of you looking for a more luxurious setting.


Breakfast is provided at 4-6 CUC per person, housekeeping is included in the price, laundry and many other services like transportation and lunch/dinner etc. can also be arranged by the Casa/landlord.


All of them have contacts, drivers, private taxis, tours, fake cigars, you name it. All for your convenience!


I’d recommend a Casa in the Vedado area, that is Central Havana close to the Hotel Nacional. If you prefer more quiet and green areas, then the Miramar area would be suitable for you.

I wouldn’t take one in Old Havana – too noisy, too crowded and can be unsafe.

There are a number of good websites that you can use to search for Casas in the various Havana areas.

If you opt for a Casa make sure that you check availability and make a reservation early as the popular ones can be fully booked many weeks or a few months ahead.


The sites offers a great search engine for Casas all over Cuba, categorized according to rating, price level, type (penthouse, villa, entire apartment, room, etc.). You can also search for activities, excursions, car rental, and others.


They act as a broker and handle all communication and reservations with the Casa owners who have their Casas on that site. It doesn’t cost anything extra. What you see on the website, is what you pay.



A fellow Canadian cigar blogger, Matteo, runs this site.  In the “Things To Do” section of this site you can also find very good recommendations for restaurants, activities, cigar shops, etc.


3.      Here are some more links that can be useful. The first one – Rent-In-Cuba – is a luxury Casa rental agency. Their first villa is a dream.


Q: How do I get around in Havana (and to and from the Airport). Is it safe to take taxis in the city?

A: To get to Havana from the airport use the official taxis that will take you to the city for a flat rate of 25 CUC. It is worth checking with the Casa (if you choose to stay at casa) if they offer airport transfers – some of them may offer that service free of charge (usually the more fancy Casas)

As for taxis inside the city, you can get taxis everywhere at major hotels, but it might be hard to get one outside on the street. Whenever you are in a restaurant have the taxi wait for you or tell the waiter ahead of time to get you a taxi.

If you find a taxi driver who is:

a)     Good, 

b)     Speaks English (assuming you don’t speak Spanish, in which case this doesn’t matter)

c)     Tells you he is available at 40 to 50 CUC per day flat rate- then :

Hire him!

Given the high temperatures in addition to a humidity level that is around 75-85% and add to that the terrible air pollution, walking will most probably be a nightmare. You will most probably not do much walking in Havana, except in the touristy area in Old Havana, Calle Obispo, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Prado and Parque Central/Capitol area.

If you hire a private driver, you will have a personal chauffeur who will drive you around all day, and take you wherever you need to go. It is recommended! 

NB. You are not obliged to use him everyday. Just inform him before hand that you won’t be needing him a certain day.

Q: What means of payments can I rely on in Cuba? Can I use my Credit/Debit cards?

A: Casas and private restaurants (Paladares ) will accept payments in cash only.


As a general rule, forget about credit cards – you may use credit cards (non-US issued of course) at LCDH’s, some state restaurants and hotels, but always ask first, as problems always occur or the phone line is “down” for the payment. 

Another reason is that when you pay by credit card the staff cannot steal from the bill … 🙂

Q: What is a typical daily budget?

A: It varies based on preferences and routines, but an average daily budget might be in the neighborhood of 70-100 CUC in Havana – despite all Havana is not that cheap.

Here is my personal breakdown (in CUC):

·        40 for casa incl. breakfast, laundry, tips

·        35 for private driver

·        20 for lunch

·        20 for dinner

·        20 for cigars

·        15 for drinks


Q: Where do I find good LCDH that have good selection and stock?

A: For selection and stock, the following are recommended:


1.      LCDH Hotel Melia Habana, Miramar – house roller is Yolanda , great roller.


Pictures: LCDH Hotel Melia Habana, Miramar


Be aware that there are two Melia Hotels in Havana.

One is Melia Cohiba, the LCDH there is on the first floor and is not bad, Juanita rolls there –  the other is Melia Habana in Miramar, LCDH is ground floor, below the lobby.


2.      LCDH 5-ta y 16, Miramar –  Carlos Robaina works there, House roller is Maria, quite good.


3.   LCDH Hostal Conde de Villanueva – Calle Mercaderes, Habana Vieja. Good custom rolled cigars. Manager is Reynaldo, a great roller himself.


This CDH offer good atmosphere (stock is also OK).


Pictures: LCDH Hostal Conde de Villanueva

4.      LCDH Partagas Factory – The Partagas factory is no longer open, it will be converted into a Cigar/Tobacco museum. The Casa there is quite good, great roller in La China, manager is Grecia and Odalys at the bar is a sweetheart.

5. LCDH Club Habana in Miramar – manager Leo, Jorgito rolls Monsdales there.

6. LCDH Hotel Habana Libre – manager Elina and/or Celia


Pictures: LCDH Hotel Habana Libre


I personally do not like the LCDH at the Nacional Hotel, but you MUST have a cigar at their terrace and visit the Historical Bar.


Q: I heard that you could rent a horse and go for a ride in Cuba, where can I do that?

A: You might rent horses in HAV, but I don’t know where – I know you can do it in the Viñales valley, which I did and loved it, riding the valley for 4-5 hrs on horseback to the caves.


You can rent horses there asking at Hotel Los Jazmines in Viñales or in the village itself. That hotel offers the best view over the valley. Go there for a beer.


Q: Any advice on good shows/clubs/venues in Havana?

A: The Show at Tropicana should be a must if you enjoy shows.


For local music and dance try the “Casa de la Musica”, there are 2 in Havana, but go with your partner if you have one, as those places are also “meat markets” where locals go to pick up tourists.


I go to truly local places, like “El Sauce” in Miramar that are frequented by locals.


Also try “El Gato Tuerto” close to Hotel Nacional for great Cuban music and Jazz. Good place. Read more about it here: El Gato Tuerto


Q: Where should I go if I want to enjoy a day at the beach?

A:  There are no beaches in Havana. You can go to the Club Habana, 15 minutes drive and spend the day at the beach there, costs you 20 CUC per head per day. Small beach. Good LCDH where you get the “Monsdales”. Basic restaurant by the pool/beach or good restaurant in the Mansion:

More info: Club Havana

Nearest beach where I like to go to and spend half a day is Tarara, 30 minutes by car, nice, long beach and a basic café, or you can eat on the beach.

More info:Tarara beach

Then the next beach is Guanabo, 35 minutes from HAV, long beach, popular with gays.


Q: What are your recommendations for eating out?

A: Here is a list I compiled in June 2015 of current paladares in HAV :


Starbien (Great food – Business Lunch recommended, beautiful house)
Calle 29 #205 e/ B y C, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-0711

Iván Chef Justo (Great atmosphere and food)
Aguacate #9 esq. a Chacón, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-863-9697 – Maitre d’ : Rainel

Santy’s (Best seafood, hidden away)
Calle 240A #3023 esq. a 3ra C, Jaimanitas
(+53) 5-286-7039

El Templete (Seafood/Spanish – highly recommended)
Avda. del Puerto

La Terraza del Centro Asturiano (Great food, large servings )
Prado 309
(+53) 7-864 1447 / 5-817 8778

Río Mar (Good but expensive, by the sea)
Ave. 3raA y Final #11, La Puntilla, Miramar
(+53) 7-209-4838

El Litoral (By the US Embassy, great place to relax at the terrace, great food)
Malecón #161 e/ K y L, Vedado
(+53) 7-830-2201

El Chanchullero (opens 1 pm, small, great food and atmosphere, cheap)
Teniente Rey #457, Plaza del Cristo, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-872-8227

El Rejoneo ( Fresh Sandwiches, cheap, great garden )
11 Esq. a 84, Miramar, Playa
(+53) 7-203 5190

Corte del Príncipe / Segio’s (Italian, good, expensive)
Calle 9na esq. a 74, Miramar
(+53) 5-255-9091

La Fontana (Only the Bar !)
Calle 46 #305 esq. a 3ra, Miramar
(+53) 7-202-8337

La Guarida (The best – crowded – reservation is essential)
Concordia #418 e/ Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-866-9047

San Cristóbal (kitschy atmosphere, good food)
San Rafael #469 e/ Lealtad y Campanario, Centro Habana
(+53) 7-860-9109

D. Eutimia (touristy, good food, crowded)
Callejón del Chorro #60C, Plaza de la Catedral, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7 861 1332

Espacios ( Great tapas, BBQ, private garden, good crowd )
Calle 10 e 5 y 7, Miramar
(+53) 7-202 2921

Otramanera (possibly the best quality Paladar in HAV right now)
A/C room inside, 2 tables in patio, reservation needed, my favourite choice.
Calle 35 e 20 y 41, Playa, close to the Casa de la Musica.
(+53) 7 203 8315

Casa Abel, Paladar and Cigar lounge by Abel Esposito, former manager of LCDH Partagas
319 San Lazaro esq/ Nicolas, Centro Habana
(+53) 7 860 6589

Gato Tuerto Jazz Club
Calle O entre 17 y 19, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-2224

La Zorra y el Cuervo Jazz Club
Calle 23 e/ N y O, Vedado
(+53) 7-833-2402

El Sauce (Great bands, large garden, Cubans)
Ave. 9na #12015 e/ 120 y 130, Playa
(+53) 7-204-6428

Don Cangrejo (By the sea, action)
Ave. 1ra e/ 16 y 18, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-3837

Fábrica de Arte (Three storied old factory, art exhibitions, restaurant)
Calle 26 e/ 11 y 13, Vedado

Casa de la Música MIRAMAR ( No smoking )
Calle 20 esq. a 35, Miramar
(+53) 7-204-0447

Salon Rojo (Meat market)
Hotel Capri next to Hotel Nacional

You can also read my reports on eating out and Paladares here:


Flyingcigar – Paladares and eating out – Part 1

Flyingcigar – Paladares and eating out – Part 2

Flyingcigar – Eating and Cigars – Part 3

Read all three parts of that last report, then you have the newest Paladares there.

You should also visit the website Cuba Absolutely, which is very useful and up to date on eating out and restaurants in Havana (see Guide on the lower right hand) and it might also give you further information useful for your trip.


Link: Cuba Absolutely

And a good round-up of some of my favourite eating places in Havana here :

 Q: Where should I go to find some good custom rolled cigars in Havana?

A: Here are Some good rollers for you where you can buy their cigars:

1.      Cueto – big guy, great person, rolls at the Casa del Tabaco in La Cabaña fortress, when you go in past the main gate to the left before entering the fortress proper.
Guinness world record holder for rolling the longest cigar in the world at 80 plus meters.


Youtube clip: Cueto – Longest cigar in the world


2.      Yolanda – rolls at LCDH Melia Habana

More info: Yolanda


3.      La China – rolls at LCDH Partagas factory

More info: La China


4.      Juanita – rolls at LCDH Melia Cohiba

More info: LCDH Melia Cohiba


5.      Jorgito – rolls at LCDH Habana Club, his best known cigars are the “Monsdales”. Tasty and very good, 5 CUC a piece.

More info:

Monsdale – LCDH Club Havana

LCDH Club Havana


6.      Reynaldo – rolls at LCDH Hostal Conde de Villanueva – but he has more rollers rolling for him.

More info:

Reynaldo Gonzalez (Torcedor y Director) Conde de Villanueva LCDH

Conde de Villanueva LCDH Custom Roll Review


7.      Hamlet – rolls, when he rolls, at RyJ factory shop, but is now at the Partagas store selling.


http://cubancigarscu…q=carlos lazaro


8.      Carlos Robaina – not a roller per se, son of Don Alejandro Robaina, he works at LCDH 5-ta y 16 in Miramar


Link to interview with Carlos: Interview with Carlos Robaina


9.      Carlos Valdez – rolls at the Casa de la Amistad in Vedado, so you might pop up there and see if you get to meet him…you might get lucky.

Q: I love classical cars, where can I find well-preserved ones?

A: For the best in classic historical cars go to Hotel Nacional or Hotel Parque Central. They are parked there waiting for customers to take a ride in HAV, but expensive at 30-40 CUC an hour.

A very good travel agency in Havana is run by my friend Toby Brocklehurst – he caters for cigar lovers :

Information provided by Nino 




4 Responses to “Visiting Havana – FAQ About Hotels Casas And Cigars”

  1. michel 09/02/2014 at 12:55 #

    Danke nino für diesen post.

    kann und werde ich gut gebrauchen wenn ich in cuba bin im april 😉

  2. Steve 13/02/2014 at 23:57 #

    Great post Nino. And As usual fantastic info.

  3. Alejandro 18/02/2014 at 01:58 #

    Very good guide, simple and concise and very useful. Note that the author knows well Havana. Thank Nino.

  4. Ingmar 02/04/2014 at 22:03 #

    Danke Nino, Alexander und Matteo fuer diese super Infos!

    Werde ich gerne testen, wenn ich beim Encuentro de Partagas bin. Saludos!