Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

My first Airbnb experience in Havana, Cuba was unforgettable; I had no idea what to expect, was absolutely astounded at the view we enjoyed, the activity around us, and the accommodations at the casa particular. We loved it so much; we booked to return in less than two months.

Havana, Cuba Accommodations

Casa Urquiza at Prado 20, managed by Senora Chary, a retired music teacher, was the first and last stop in our visit to Cuba. She was assisted by Lisu in cooking and cleaning the apartment. This Airbnb review will include the review as well as a peek at how we lived while we were in Havana. This was not just a spot to sleep, but a unique experience unto itself. Casa Urquiza is listed as Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV 150 on Airbnb.

Looking on Airbnb, we had noticed all the pertinent details – there were air conditioning units, which we knew may or may not work. We saw no bars on windows; a sign of a good, secure neighborhood. We knew there was a balcony with a decent view, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Incredible Architecture

When we arrived, we had no idea what to expect other than from a few photographs. After a whirlwind airport pickup, a fast-paced tour of historical buildings, and fast stop at a cadeca to exchange money, we arrived to drop off our bags before more touring.

Already so overwhelmed visually from all the incredible architecture in Havana, we saw the state of disrepair of buildings that looked vacant but were fully populated, as well as several restoration projects underway. Above, you can see the dome of the capitol building which currently is under renovation.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

First Impressions

Our first impression was that of an abandoned hotel. We were greeted by a door lady who sat at a worn out desk on a broken chair in a lobby with not another item except the remnants of some type of an indoor pool that looked like it had been filled with plants and fish some time long ago.

On the wall was an old apartment-style brass mailbox with slots and names, some scribbled out, some vacant. Two elevator doors were in front of us, a nice surprise as we had anticipated rolling our luggage up to the fifth floor.

The elevators looked old – probably from the 1950’s, but worked fine and fit four plus luggage in each one.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Welcome to the Prado!

On the fifth floor, we emerged from the elevator, turned left, and saw the icon meaning “place for rent,” and entered Apartment 5A. We then realized how incredibly tall the ceilings were, to allow heat to rise and cool each level. Architecture all through Havana displays these very tall levels for that purpose.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Beyond the heavy door lay a small foyer area with a real landline telephone!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Remember when you used to come in the door, leave your keys, check the phone for messages, and check the time on a clock – back in the 1980’s? You should have seen us all jump when the phone rang! And our delight when we realized we could call anyone in Havana from that phone!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

We dropped hats here and there, and glanced around.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Toward the balcony lay a small kitchen fully equipped, and ahead, what would turn out to be a million dollar view! Next we saw a large dining room table with seating for six.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

First Stop: The View

But beyond – the view. Oh, the view. We headed out immediately to see what we could see, before we had even set down our bags!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Straight ahead we saw several monuments, a fort, and a park. Below and to our right was the beautifully tiled Prado – the wide park between old and new Havana where families gathered until midnight to visit and play.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Above and to our right rose the newly rebuilt and terribly impressive Packard Hotel, their infinity pool on our level, live music wafting across the park to us. Above and to our left was another fort, and the entire entrance to Havana Bay.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

We had scored huge. The view of the Malecon, bayfront, monuments, forts, and the Prado – we could not imagine any other place situated well enough to enjoy both views. I thought of “Welgelegen,” which means “well situated” in Afrikaans. Welgelegen puts you near “Welgemoed” – a good mood! The view definitely put us all in great spirits!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Large Balcony

From our vantage point, we watched long processions of vintage cars assemble for wedding parties, and for hours kept an eye on families teaching children how to bicycle and skate on the Prado.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

The balcony was a lot wider and deeper than we had imagined. We enjoyed the breezes from there daily, and the views were never ending.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Never Ending Scenery

Night or day, there always was some action to observe. We thought the noise at night would disturb us, but the bedrooms are on the other end of the flat. Sometimes we heard a bit of construction noise on the other side, but it would cease by bedtime.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Sometimes we had to tear ourselves away from people watching from the balcony. This huge procession of vintage cars honked and tooted their way all the way to the bayfront, waving and cheering.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Every night, we enjoyed music from the pool bar at the Packard. We had our own private balcony, with breezes and live music wafting across the Prado. Simply magical!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Heart of the Home: Kitchen

The kitchen was stocked with a fridge, sink, stove, and the large multi-tier water filter we soon would recognize everywhere we went. Just look at all the accoutrement for coffee time!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Immediately, we counted all the Cuban coffee teeny cups, and the Moka pots – surely a good sign!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Water was boiled, then filtered, then placed in the fridge for our use.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

One of the first verbs we reviewed was “herbir” which means “to boil.” Here Lisu is heating milk for our coffee, making coffee in a Moka pot, and boiling some water to put through the filter later for drinking and making ice.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Living Room and Hallway

Between the dining room and kitchen, and the two bedrooms, is a living room space. The terazzo floors are nice and cool, so back on trend, and unbelievably tough. I found the secret under that end table…

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Spare washing machine! That meant there was another one somewhere! We headed down the hallway to look at the rooms, drop our bags, and plan our next adventure.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

First bedroom with ensuite bath is to the right, the larger bathroom is straight ahead, and the larger bedroom to the right then left.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Bedrooms and Bathrooms

The first bedroom has a queen bed and a single bed. It has a bathroom attached, and a large window. We learned that air conditioning and electricity are expensive, so it’s the custom to cool the bedroom but not the entire house. Very sensible. The bathroom is off the bedroom, so it cools as well. A small refrigerator was in the room. We didn’t use it.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

The second bedroom was further down the hallway, and you pass the bathroom first with a separate door; not ensuite like the first. Two queen beds, a couple nightstands, and an armoire are in the larger bedroom. Another small refrigerator, but we simply used the main on in the kitchen.

The has two windows; one an enchanting view between the buildings, the other also looking out to sea; very beautiful views. We found that we tended to leave the curtains in the bedrooms closed to keep the rooms a bit cooler during the day when the sun was the hottest.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

The stunning view from this bathroom had everyone wanting to shower in here! We found bathrooms all over Cuba to be similar – completely tiled.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

This bathroom gets cool, but not as cool as the first one. That was fine; we didn’t spend much time in there. The amazing discovery was that this bathroom has a million dollar view of the entrance to the harbor!

The beds were all comfortable, the bathrooms large enough and fully tiled. There was a washing machine / dryer combination if you cared to translate the settings and buttons.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Dine-In Breakfasts

The breakfasts Sra Chary and Lisu made every morning were fantastic.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Each day, there were omelets, platters full of freshly cut fruit, a fruit smoothie, bread, and the Cuban coffee. Specially heated milk for the coffee was an added touch, as well as guava jam, Irish butter, and, the glorious views.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

One morning as the sun rose, the streets were especially empty as a foot race and roller blading event were conducted on the closed streets. Mornings were so quiet, you could hear people walking on the tiled Prado.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

I just had to include a pictures of these plants, because they were the one thing I recognized from the photos when we arrived, and that’s how I knew we were in the right apartment.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Everything else looked so different from what I had imagined; so these plants were what grounded the flat for me, transitioning from photos on a computer screen to real life.

I was very impressed that the plants were so happy living indoors. Now I know it is because in Cuba, you live with the doors flung open, drinking up the air, the sun, the life.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Convenient Location

From 20 Prado, it is only one block to the Malecon. The view from the waterfront is beautiful. People of all ages gather to stroll, sit and sip, and speak about their day while they wait for the sun to go down.

In the other direction, it’s only a block to endless architecture, shops, churches, museums, art galleries, and endless walking sights.

Directly underneath Prado 20 is a shop that rents bicycles and offers maps for self-guided tours. On the corner is a great, inexpensive restaurant. More on all that in later articles!

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Support the Economy

When you go to Cuba, please do take advantage of the extra $5 or so a day the casa particulares charge to make breakfast for you. It’s another chance to interact with your host or hostess, and with some monthly wages amounting to around $20, your money goes far.

The luxury of having breakfast cooked for you right in your own flat cannot be underestimated. Carry your Cuban coffee onto your balcony, and watch the world wake up.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

When the sun comes up again over the larger fort, life on the Prado resumes. Sip your coffee, and contemplate the 500 years of Havana history.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

As the day begins again, history continues, and visitors like us are enchanted all over again by the culture, the architecture, the music, and the people.

That Washing Machine!

Now, back to that washing machine…

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Washing machine number one was found in our bathroom. I never had the courage to try it out.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

I understood from this sticker that the device would wash and dry, and that is was manufactured by LG, and that it weighed some kilograms.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Well, ok – I can figure out much of this; synthetics, mixed, clothes of the cama (bed), delicate, fast… Plus I remember from high school Spanish with Senora Beery that algodon is cotton. How on Earth she taught me so much in two years I’ll never know.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

What I did understand was that once I made a selection on the previous panel, this one was going to light up. Then I would either boil – herbir! – or freeze our clothing as my temperature converter on my cell phone probably needed a connection that I did not have.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Final Thoughts

As it turned out, our accommodations were huge, spacious, and with incredible views. Havana is very warm, hot, even. Plan to wear cool, light clothes and take a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Visitors are very safe.

When you spend a night in a casa particular, they will require your passport to note your name and country of origin in their records. This is customary, as they must keep records of how they are earning income.

Another interesting custom is the keys – you are given a set of keys to the main door, and you have one to your room. That is so the staff may come and go, preparing meals or watering plants or cleaning, while your room remains locked.

We have to thank Mitchel Morales and Xander Ferras at CubaDivingNow for assisting us with this incredible journey, beginning with Casa Urquiza. Hector Pechero was our main driver, and next we headed to Playa Larga. Subscribe for more articles about our adventures in Cuba.

If you have any questions about booking a trip to Cuba, leave a message in the comments or email me, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions. Please subscribe – upcoming articles about our other Airbnb stays in Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Playa Larga as well as articles about our Cuban travels are coming up next! How to travel to Cuba from the US is linked below.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

Airbnb – Make Your Trips “Off The Chain!”

Ok, so, here are two Airbnb discount codes. Try either one! The offerings from Airbnb change every couple months, so use whichever gives you the best deal. You can only use a code one time, so compare, choose whichever gives you the best deal since they change periodically, and make it count!

As of today, this one, Airbnb says, “Kimberly gave you up to $55 off your first trip.” Friends who sign up for Airbnb with my link will get $40 off their home booking. And they get $15 to use toward an experience worth $50 or more.

Also today, this one, Airbnb says, “Deep gave you up to $415 off your first adventure. I’m ready to book from this one right now! I’m thinking it’s a computer glitch – so jump on it fast!

Urquiza’s Apartment link on Airbnb. Or, if you already are in Airbnb, typing in “Urquiza’s apartment – HAV150” will get you to the listing. Casa Urzuiza is located at 20 Prado, Apartment 5-A, on the Paseo de Prado, municipality Central Havana, province Havana, Cuba. The apartment is on the fifth floor with views of the Prado, the bay, and the forts.

, Havana, Cuba // Central Havana // Urquiza’s Apartment – HAV150 // Airbnb Review

What to Read Next:

My Method for Booking a Great Airbnb Property

Cuban Pesos // What We Learned About Exchanging Money in Cuba

Planning a Legal Trip to Cuba from the US // Travel Restrictions // Rules for Americans

About

Leave a Comment

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com