We booked 3 nights on AirBnB with Hostal Codinach Fernandez at 303 Soledad, Havana. It was troublesome from the start.
The host was advised that we would arrive 4-5PM, but she was not there. We phoned her but still had to wait (on the side of the street) for almost 30mins. We speak no Spanish and she has no English so face-to-face communication was very difficult, but we finally understood that we were being taken to a different apartment. This was disappointing as we had specifically chosen 303 Soledad to be near the sea.
We were taken to another apartment, let’s call it Apartment B, and introduced to a very sweet father and son, possibly the owners. Apartment B is ok but importantly differs from what we had paid for as follows:
· No air con
· Small kitchen
· Tiny bathroom
· No living room
· Further away from the sea front
· No balcony ‘overlooking the city’
· Cramped apartment.
· Additionally, the water supply in Apartment B failed the first evening, so we spent 2 days (of three) with limited showers or flushing toilet.
If we had wanted to save money, we could have booked Apartment B – but we paid for certain extras which we did not receive.
To summarise, 1) we paid £34 sterling per night for 303 Soledad. Apartment B was ok, but given the differences outlined above, is closer to £20 per night 2) We specifically booked to be near the sea. 3) Both father and son at Apartment B are very sweet, and tried to support us through the water shortage, which was building-wide and out of their control. The father even offered to let us use his shower, and feed us and brought up buckets of water as back-up. 4) AirBnB website does not work fully in Cuba (payments cannot be processed) so finding alternative accommodation would be difficult.
If there was a problem with apartment 303 Soledad or if the host was somehow double-booked, we should have been informed properly beforehand and given the option to cancel. That this didn’t happen makes it seem like a ‘bait and switch’ tactic. And given previous reviews on this listing, it is not the first time it has happened.
If the host uses other listing agencies and ended up double-booked, then you too could find yourself in the same situation – and Havana is not the type of city to be stranded in trying to find alternative accommodation at short notice with luggage in tow, very little Spanish, intermittent and expensive internet, and limited access to the AirBnB website.
I would not book with this host ever again because of the ‘bait and switch’ tactic. From the reviews on here, the apartment 303 Soledad sounds fabulous, but 1) we don’t know as we didn’t stay there, and 2) it seems that you too could be at risk of being moved at short/no notice to another apartment not of your choosing.