I stayed at Roy‘s Terrace Inn in Santiago de Cuba with my family for two days.
We arrived by Viazul Bus from Holguin and Roy had been so kind to pre-arrange a Taxi from the Viazul Station to his place. This was surprisingly useful as the taxi drivers at the station were very aggressively approaching passengers as we were leaving the station, so we were happy to escape them. Upon leaving, Roy had also arranged an Oldtimer to take us to the airport, which was a wonderful experience.
Roy and his team were wonderful hosts, a really great team. Please note, however, that this is more like a small hotel rather than your typical AirBnB, i.e. professional but not personal.
We enjoyed a fantastic breakfast and nice dinner on the terrace. The terrace itself is as beautiful as the pictures suggest, just note that there is no cover when it rains.
The Inn is very centrally located, two blocks from the main square, so easy to walk everywhere.
The room itself had a single window to the inner court, no outside windows. As it was both hot and humid, we needed the aircon the whole time. Unfortunately, the room is not insulated at all and the aircon is old and both noisy and ineffective, which meant we had very little sleep. The shower provided a trickle of water, not unusual in Cuba, but worth considering when are planning your stay there. The room can really only be used for sleeping, not a place to spend time. The terrace is fine, as long as it is not raining, no other place to stay at the Inn otherwise.
Santiago was a very mixed experience. Like many places in Cuba, the city is in a bad state, there is nothing quaint or romantic about it. there are a few places worth noting but you‘ll be done in a few hours. If you can connect to locals, you can find extraordinary places for salsa music, the travel guides were useless in this regard.
Really challenging, however, was the experience with Cubans in Santiago de Cuba. In less than 10 years, everything seems to have changed. Cuba used to be a special place. This time, walking around was like running a gauntlet, every second person on the street in Santiago approached us, either directly begging for money or harassing us with anything from taxis, to internet cards, to restaurants, etc. This was by no means friendly but rather very aggressive to the point of people stepping in our way or holding our arms. In addition, it felt like every place was trying, in a more or less blunt way, to cheat, such as restaurants with fictious bills etc. Last not least, Santiago did not feel safe at all, I would not recommend walking the streets at night alone, especially as a single woman.
We did not have this experience elsewhere in Cuba, just in Santiago.