I recently had the privilege of spending a week in Havana at a place known as a “casa particular”. If you’ve never heard of a casa particular before, you’re not alone as I only learned about them shortly after booking my trip to Cuba. Casa particulars are accommodations such as a private room, apartment, or house that’s designed for tourists. Initially, I searched for the best places to stay in or near Havana and after a few interesting results, I realized that I didn’t want to stay at a regular old hotel or a resort that would likely be jam-packed full of tourists. I live a relatively busy life as it is with my career and extracurriculars and I knew I wanted something a little quieter and more stress-free for my hard-earned vacation. I wanted to be absorbed into the culture and feel the experience of being a local in Havana.
Photo by Beyond The Ordinary
One thing I learned while in Cuba was just how quickly someone can develop genuine Cuban relationships and become profoundly involved in the deep-rooted culture that exists there. The locals who lived near the casa particular I stayed in made me feel as if I was part of the family which made the entire trip that much more memorable. While Havana is known for its rich architecture and gorgeous sights to behold, one thing I really miss are the smells. The pungent aroma of tobacco leaves dancing delicately with the sweet smell of the local guava fruit creates a rather rich and intoxicating affair. The aromatic experience was exactly what I would imagine it would have smelled like growing up in a Cuban home.
Photo by Travel Talk Tours
As for my location for the week, it was nothing short of incredible. I was in a building that was right where the Prado meets the Malecon. The Prado is a mile-long pedestrian promenade, wide and adorned with concrete benches and seats, constructed from multi-colored pavement, with a street running on either side that is home to several establishments. As for the Malecon, it’s a long seafront area with a thick sea wall where the locals (and tourists) can sit and even lie down for a spell. While I was visiting, it was mostly locals and a few young couples, but still a sight to behold. Young children and teens played on the rocks down below, occasionally swimming out into the sea. At the other end, which was closer to where my accommodations were, marked a popular fishing spot, and not too far down the way is the famous Morro Castle.
Photo by Encircle Photos
I loved my week away from it all in Havana, and I’ll never forget how much I thoroughly enjoyed that smokey and earthly scent that would cumulate on the street just outside my private apartment. I really loved the free and easy-going atmosphere, and granted I was only there for a week, I felt completely at home during my stay. You may be thinking that this experience must surely be expensive, but to be honest, staying in a casa particular was far cheaper than staying at a hotel or resort. If I was into the busy party scene here, I would have had plenty of vacation money left over that I could have used on taxis, restaurants, nightclubs, or museums, but alas I opted to keep it simple and focused on rest, relaxation, and mingling with the locals.
Photo by Biz Evde Yokuz
It’s easy to see how Havana is known for its rich architecture and lovely aromas. It’s a place I would love to visit again, but it’s not a trip I can afford to take often. Luckily, I don’t need plane tickets to be transported back to that memorable week I spent in Cuba. Whenever I want to revisit those streets just outside the cozy little casa particular, I close my eyes and take in a deep breath and the casa particular reed diffuser does the trick. I’m instantly reminded of that pungent but alluring smell of tobacco leaves mingling with hints of sweet guava fruit that creates a rich and intoxicating affair. Don’t just take my word for it, you can also experience living in a Cuban home with this smokey and earthly scent yourself.
Try out the Casa Particular Scent here.