If you want to experience Havana not just as a tourist, but also as locals experience Havana, I recommend you stay in a casa particular. And what better place to do that than in leafy, residential Vedado?
This big, 1940s home houses a small extended family that has lived here for generations. A family of doctors, they have registered with the government to run a guest house, in order to supplement their incomes. They are really lovely people.
When I was there, there were a couple of rooms available, each with two beds, and one big bath that adjoins the two rooms. There is a nice porch in back, with rocking chairs, a big yard with fruit trees, and at the end of the yard, views of Havana.
I ate at Hotel Nacional, government cafeterias, cafes, paladars, and they may have had the best food at Casa Mer. Breakfast was 5 CUC and every morning it was a different kind of eggs, a pitcher of fresh-blended juice with mango, banana, etc., fresh fruit, different breads, strong Cuban coffee... dinner 10 CUC we had chicken and potatoes one night, lightly battered and pan-fried marlin another, always with more food than you could eat - tomatoes, cucumbers, rice, beans, breads, soup, desert, etc. Sorry travelers but Wilfredo if you are reading this you should raise your dinner price!
I also really enjoyed Vedado. Cabs are everywhere and you can get one to Habana Vieja for no more than 10 CUC. There are a number of paladars nearby also - El Farallon is pretty good. It is very close to Necropolis Cristobal Colon, a nice walk to Plaza de Revolucion. Various small businesses nearby, and also a CADECA money exchange. And a little farther away in Vedado, towards the Malecon, there are all sorts of bars, nightclubs, music venues, and of course Hotel Nacional.
Oh, at time of visit rooms were 30 CUC.
Highly recommended Cuban experience!
Calle 28 Nº206
entre 21 y 19
Vedado, C.Habana, Cuba
telefono (537) 833 4412
licencia Nº 8804
email Wilfredo at firstname.lastname@example.org