Havana is officially cool (though we don’t need a publication to confirm it), so cool that one of its neighbourhoods has been named the coolest. We’re talking about Old Havana, also commonly referred to as the old town or the historic centre of the Cuban capital. And the publication that declared it among the world’s coolest neighbourhoods is Time Out magazine, which put Old Havana at number 39 in their ranking (in our eyes, Old Havana deserves a far higher ranking – we’d put it right at the top! And we think our Havana casa particular owners would too!)

Balcony view of a casa particular in Old Havana - Casa Albanicos (homestay in Havana)
Balcony view of a casa particular in Old Havana – Casa Albanicos

To be fair, it wasn’t actually Time Out who ranked the world’s coolest neighbourhoods, a team of editors and experts did compile the final selection of the neighbourhoods included in the ranking after conducting extensive research, but the ranking was actually decided by residents themselves with a total of 27,000 votes.

In the case of Old Havana, we’re sure that voters included a few casa particular owners, but also residents who are more excited than ever about the neighbourhood’s rebirth, redemption and transformation (even if there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to the restoration of old, crumbling buildings with incredible historical value). The Cuban capital’s old town is currently the most desired location for those looking to book a casa particular in Havana.

As the article by Time Out explains:

“It’s easier than ever to travel like a local these days: we stay in homes instead of hotel rooms [in the case of CubaCasa, we make it easier than ever for travellers to experience real Cuban homes with real Cuban hosts full of tips and advice to help you breathe local flavour and explore like a local, it’s what we’re all about], we never get lost, we can hail a cab anywhere and translate any language in seconds.”

“But in the best cities in the world, there’s still one big difference between visitors and residents: location. Experiencing a city like a local means getting off the tourist trail and discovering the places where clued-up residents actually hang out.”

That’s what their research focused on, identifying those most authentic places in the world, the locations that despite receiving tourists, managed to stay true to their essence, unfazed (though not necessarily unchanged) by the attention and the influence of outsiders.

To identify the world’s coolest, hippest neighbourhoods Time Out asked over 27,000 city dwellers to give their

Balcony view from a casa particular in Old Havana
Another balcony view from a casa particular in Old Havana – Hostal San Juan

opinion, including information about what they believed to be the most overrated or undervalued neighbourhoods in their home towns.

The criteria to select the final 50 coolest neighbourhoods to visit in 2019 also included elements like whether there are any exciting new venue openings expected, whether people could still afford to live there despite the increase in popularity, and to what extent it was a cultural hub, alive with an up-and-coming arts scene with good dining options.

And we couldn’t agree more with Time Out´s publication that experiencing a city like a local means discovering the places where real residents actually like to hang out. It’s always best to experience a place from a local’s perspective and where better than from their own homes. That is the charm of a casa particular in Havana or anywhere in Cuba, and that is why we make it our passion to match travellers with the right casa particular in Viñales, Varadero, Cienfuegos, Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, Santa Clara or Camaguey.