when my original airbnb casa in havana blindsided me with a last minute cancellation last month, i had less than a week to find a four bedroom, four bathroom home in havana to rent. as you can imagine, there weren't many options. fortunately, manuel's home was available and i jumped at the only opportunity .
first and foremost, i think the most important (and obvious) thing to do is stay away from places that have no reviews on their airbnb page. i was a fool to attempt booking the original place, it was literally too good to be true and there were no reviews. once i dug deeper into the problem, i noticed several other cancellations. i will say this, airbnb was very helpful and i got my refund. i can't say enough about the peace of mind the representative provided me.
i don't know the name of the place, but manuel runs the house which is listed as Risthol (URL HIDDEN) VOO32.
the home's staff includes diana, glenda, and yusi, all of which provide great service with genuine smiles and warmth. located in the heart of vedado, the building looks decent from the outside, but once you exit the elevator on the 17th floor, the true beauty of this place becomes apparent. huge, sweeping views of the malecon, the city and the sea immediately draw you to the wrap-around balcony.
throughout the home is gorgeous, wooden, antique furniture adorned with family photos and other personal items. like i told my friends, it's as if the family had just walked out the front door.
each of the four bedrooms have en suite bathrooms, rockin' A/C and a refrigerator which is a nice touch. additionally, the neighborhood is nice and clean with several great restaurants within walking distance.
beyond serving us great food, coffee and refreshments in a clean, comfortable home all week, the ladies, including 86-year-old matriarch, evidia, even provided my group with a few quick salsa lessons before we left for the tropicana one night. with cuban music cranking from the bose sound link, everyone was jamming along when i looked at my friend and said, "you don't get THIS in some soul-less hotel." why anyone would pay two or three times the price of a private home to stay in a hotel in cuba these days is beyond me.
we've all read glowing reviews about "the best casa in cuba," etc., etc. fact is, there are tons of great places available, each with their own pros and cons. honestly, i can't think of any possible improvements to this place. the only snag we hit, and i know i can't include the address, but the directions were off by one block. this was easily resolved with a quick phone call to the owner. that, by the way, is a very important tip, be sure to have the host's contact number.
without hyperbole, i can honestly say, manuel's pad in vedado was a perfect 10.