Here's what it's like to stay in an Airbnb in Cuba, where everything looked great but was actually broken

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Airbnb Comes to Cuba, Despite Patchy Cuban Internet

Business Insider recently sent three reporters on a wild trip to Havana, Cuba, to experience the island nation's surreal time warp.

Instead of booking rooms in one of the state-run hotels, we decided to stay in a three-bedroom "casa particular," a traditional Cuban home we found through Airbnb, which started offering accommodations in Havana in June.

Our apartment was just a few steps away from the infamous Habana Libre hotel, the beautiful seaside views of Malecón, and Havana's main drag, "La Rampa."

We booked a 7-day stay at "Diana's luxury apartment in the heart of Havana" for a grand total of $840. The listing was accurate for the most part, but it would have been nice to know that there was a serious issue with the water — most days, we didn't have any.



Bienvenidos a nuestra casa aquí en Habana, Cuba! This is what our living room looked like. We had two wooden rocking chairs, a glass table, and a bookcase. Most of the furniture in our apartment, including the Marilyn Monroe canvas, was from IKEA.



Our bookcase was stocked with plenty of Russian and communist literature, but since we had plenty of things to do, we didn't take the time to sit down with all five volumes of "Lenin."



Off to the side of the living room was the smallest of the three bedrooms, which was equipped with a sofa bed.



It had a gorgeous private balcony that flooded the room with tons of light.



From the balcony, we caught a view of the infamous Habana Libre hotel, where Fidel Castro ran the country during the Cuban Revolution in 1959.



The second bedroom had two twin beds pushed together, a small light above the bed, and a large wooden armoire.



For whatever reason, the bedrooms' windows and closets were nailed shut, so we couldn't get any natural light into the rooms during the day.



However, we couldn't have cared less about not having light in our bedrooms, since we had working air-conditioners to combat the steamy 90-degree weather.



The apartment had two large bathrooms, which was crucial considering all three of us got food poisoning on the second day of our trip. This is the larger bathroom.



The tile and fixtures looked nice, but the bidet didn't work, and since the water supply was so poor, the toilet tank wouldn't fill with water. This forced us to haggle with the toilet every time we had to flush.



I loved the tile work in my bathroom — much nicer than my own bathroom in New York City — but again, I barely had running water, and I had to use that large glass vase on the countertop to manually fill the toilet tank for every flush



Like in our bathrooms, a lot of the furniture in the apartment looked great, but was also broken. As you can see from the video, the shelves in this cabinet were all slanted, and the doors weren't even attached. I kept all of my stuff in my backpack the entire trip anyway.



Here's a full view of my bedroom. Again, my window and closets were nailed shut



The biggest problem with our apartment was that we rarely had running water. All of our water was stored in two plastic blue tanks stored on a makeshift shelf above our patio. We noticed that there were some pipes and wires jutting out from the top of the container — we don't know what those were for.



The only way to get the water to work was to manually adjust three metal levers below the tanks. The lever with the blue ribbon had to be in the opposite direction of the other two levers, and if that didn't work, we tried the opposite. Our housekeeper said there wasn't really a system — you just had to play around with it (which would have been nice to know ahead of time).

Our long, open-air hallway was one of the best features of the apartment because it gave us a ton of light and brought a consistent breeze into our rooms.



However, whenever it rained — which was everyday during our trip — water poured in through the decorative wrought-iron. We still loved hearing the storm, though.



At the end of the hallway was our huge kitchen, dining area and patio. We only used the fridge since we weren't supplied with any pots or pans to cook anything. Here's a quick look around our kitchen.



We loved our patio and frequently left the gorgeous wrought-iron door open to catch a nice draft through the apartment. Here's a video of our view.



The listing noted that the apartment came with a washing machine, so we each brought a small backpack of clothes, thinking we could wash them during our trip. We found our washing machine on our patio.



It was dirty, unplugged, and had missing pipes, so even after a week of walking around in Havana's 90-degree weather and not having clean running water most days, we didn't bother messing around with the washing machine.



We heard from other tourists in Cuba that the state-run government hotels weren't much better. We were happy to have a place to hang our hat while we toured Havana.



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Here's what it's like to stay in an Airbnb in Cuba, where everything looked great but was actually broken
HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 12: A family shares the back seat of a group taxi August 12, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana Friday and raise the American flag at the reopened U.S. embassy, a symbolic act after the the two former Cold War enemies reestablished diplomatic relations in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A U.S., and a Cuban national flag, hang from a balcony to mark the restored full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Unites States, in Old Havana, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 12: A young couple kiss on top of the fortifications of El Castillo del Morro, an old Spanish fort that stands at the mouth of the Port of Havana, August 12, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana Friday and raise the American flag at the reopened U.S. embassy, a symbolic act after the the two former Cold War enemies reestablished diplomatic relations in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In this May 21, 2015, file photo, people sit on deck chairs on an artificial beach as a bride and groom ride a classic American convertible car on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba, Thursday. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)
HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 12: Cubans pose for photographs on top of the fortifications of El Castillo del Morro, an old Spanish fort at the mouth of the Port of Havana as the sun sets August 12, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana Friday and raise the American flag at the reopened U.S. embassy, a symbolic act after the the two former Cold War enemies reestablished diplomatic relations in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The entrance to the studio and art gallery of Cuban artist Leo D´Lazaro, named "The Eye of the Hurricane," stands open in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, May 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 13: A man roasts coffee beans at Cafe El Escorial at the Plaza Vieja in the old part of the city August 13, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana Friday and raise the American flag at the reopened U.S. embassy, a symbolic act after the the two former Cold War enemies reestablished diplomatic relations in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
In this Jan. 13, 2015, file photo, young men play basketball in a make-shift court, with two other players, as a woman watches from her doorstep in Old Havana, Cuba.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)
HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 13: A Cuban woman wears American-flag themed tights in the old part of the city August 13, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana Friday and raise the American flag at the reopened U.S. embassy, a symbolic act after the the two former Cold War enemies reestablished diplomatic relations in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
HAVANA - JUNE 11: Taxi drivers with their restored antique cars wait for tourists in front of the Capitol building in Havana, June 11, 2015. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
In this Monday, July 20, 2015 photo, Javier Yanez looks out from his balcony where he hung a U.S., and a Cuban national flag, to celebrate the restored full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Unites States, in Old Havana. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Javier Yanez celebrates as he watches the televised opening ceremony of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C, at his home in Old Havana, Cuba, Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People wait for the start of a swimming competition in Havana Bay during a small fair in the Casablanca neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, Thursday, July 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A Cuban and U.S. flag wave from the balcony of the Hotel Saratoga where a U.S. Congressional delegation is staying in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015.(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Jan. 17, 2015, photo, Yurien Rojas, who sells custard filled pastries known as Señoritas, waits for customers on a street in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)
A house in need of repair is seen on the Malecon in Old Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Many buildings are terribly rundown. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
This Dec. 30, 2014 photo shows Havana from the capitol dome in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Jan. 3, 2015, file photo, a woman leads a girl by the hand to the Malecon as the sun sets in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Major League Baseball cards from 1956, Cuban postage stamps of revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara and Cuban currency are displayed for sale by a peddler in Old Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
HAVANA, CUBA - AUGUST 12: Adrian Serrano gets a little help from a niece while preparing a caldosa, a communal stew, over an open fire on the street in honor of former President Fidel Castro's birthday August 12, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Havana Friday and raise the American flag at the reopened U.S. embassy, a symbolic act after the the two former Cold War enemies reestablished diplomatic relations in July. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Kids watch a swimming competition in Havana Bay during a small fair in the Casablanca neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, Thursday, July 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
In this Sunday, May 24, 2015 photo, a group of American tourists on a guided tour listen to a information on the Cathedral, in Old Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
In this May 24, 2015 photo, a vegetable vendor cycles through Cathedral Square in Old Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
This May 13, 2015 photo shows a shell of a building with the sky visible in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
In this Oct. 16, 2014, file photo, people drive classic American car in Old Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
A man waves the US and Cuban flags as he walks in front of the new Cuban Embassy shortly before it's official ceremonial opening July 20, 2015, in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Traffic moves beside a building in need of repair, on the Malecon in Old Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, June 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
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(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
(Photo credit Lily Corvo/HuffPost Live)
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