Book local campismos at Campismo Popular (Martí #225, e/ Galano y Reyes, tel. 021/64-2776).
There are scores of private rooms for rent. All are air-conditioned and most serve meals. Here are a few of my faves.
For an independent apartment, try Casa Fernando y Natasha (Flor Crombet #115 e/ Frank País y Maraví, tel. 021/64-3820, CUC20), taking up the ground floor below the owners’ home. You get a TV lounge and modern bathroom. The friendly owners were tremendously attentive when I stayed here in 2009.
I also enjoyed my stay at Casa de Josefina (Flor Crombet #269, c/o tel. 021/64-1928, CUC15–20), where the pleasant hosts offer one room with a firm mattress, fan, private bathroom, and terrace.
Casa Particular El Mirador (Maceo #86, e/ 24 de Febrero y 10 de Octubre, tel. 021/64-2647, ilianacu09 [at] gmail [dot] com, CUC15–20) is one of the best room rentals. Hostess Iliana Sotorongo Rodríguez’s attractive colonial home has two spacious upstairs rooms with fans and lofty ceilings that open to a balcony with rockers and views.
An excellent and similar alternative, Casa de Isabel Castro (Marian Grajales #35, tel. 021/64-2267, CUC15–20) has 1950s retro decor. The patio to the rear gets the sun and opens to a large garden with fruit trees. It has secure parking.
Casa de William Montoya (Martí #287, e/ Abel Díaz y Glicerio Blanco, tel. 021/64-1917, CUC20–25) is a lofty-ceilinged colonial home with a pleasant lounge, two rooms with private bathrooms, plus secure parking.
All hotels are operated by Gaviota (reservasps [at] gaviota [dot] co [dot] cu) and have air-conditioned rooms with satellite TV.
Thumbs up for Hostal La Habanera (Maceo #126, esq. Frank País, tel. 021/64-5273, fax 021/64-5339, habanabc [at] enet [dot] cu, CUC30 s, CUC35 d low season, CUC35 s, CUC40 d high season), a splendid restoration of a colonial-era hotel. Its 10 rooms around a central atrium patio have high ceilings, pleasant rattan furniture, and modern bathrooms. There’s a small bar and restaurant.
For a room with a view opt for Hotel El Castillo (Calle Calixto García, Loma del Paraíso, tel. 021/64-5106, fax 021/64-5339, CUC42 s, CUC56 d low season, CUC44 s, CUC60 d high season), built atop the foundations of El Castillo. It has 62 rooms (28 are in a new block opened in 2010) furnished colonial style, with balconies with El Yunque views. The restaurant is the best in town, but at last visit the swimming pool was jade-green with algae.
If El Castillo is full, a lesser yet identically priced alternative is Hotel Porto Santo (Carretera del Aeropuerto, tel. 021/64-5106, fax 021/64-5339, www.gaviota-grupo.com, CUC42 s, CUC56 d low season, CUC44 s, CUC60 d high season) on the west side of the bay. Its 36 rooms and 24 cabinas surround an amoeba-shaped pool, and it has tennis.
Warning: You’’ll regret booking into the 12-room Hotel La Rusa (Máximo Gómez #161, tel. 021/64-3011, fax 021/64-5339, larusa [at] enet [dot] cu, CUC20 s, CUC25 d low season, CUC25 s, CUC30 d high season), facing the Malecón. (It once belonged to a Russian woman, Mima Rubenskaya, who fled the Soviet Union in 1917 and settled in Baracoa long before it turned Communist; if you want to know more about her, check out the museum in the Fuerte Matachín.) It was totally drenched during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and despite being refurbished, is so mildewed (water was even running out of the walls and down the stairs at my last visit) that it should be condemned.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition