Published on March 23rd, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut
2014 LF Awards: 10 Best Hotels in Panama City, Panama
Recently, I wrapped up this year’s Best of Travel issue for Latin Trade Magazine, highlighting the very best hotels for business travelers in the top 10 cities in Latin America.
Now, it’s time to go a bit deeper in one especially fast-growing destination: Panama City, Panama. Based on multiple visits to Central America’s fastest-growing city, this handy, very personal and opinionated guide can help you pick out the best hotel, based on your own taste and priorities. Click on each winner to find an even more detailed review.
Best New Luxury Hotel: Its not by accident that Waldorf Astoria chose Panama as the first place in Central or South America to debut its luxury travel brand. The results — the Waldorf Astoria Panama — are sumptuous, with a contemporary, elegant style that is comfortable and inviting, bathed in muted tones of cream, café con leche, tan and vanilla and a few dramatic gold accents. The service is among the best — if not the very best — of any hotel in Panama City.
Read my full review of the Waldorf Astoria Panama here.
Most Comfortable Suites in the Casco Antiguo: Set in a lovingly renovated former apartment building that dates to the 1930s, Las Clementinas blends traditional and contemporary style, with great results. Every guest room here is an apartment-style suite, with kitchen, dining and living area, bedroom and balcony. Hardwood floors, original modern artwork and vintage photography, as well as strategically placed photo books, make this the kind of place I wish I could call home — and it’s walking distance to all the great Panama City nightlife as well as shopping and restaurants in the historic Casco Antiguo.
Read my full review of Las Clementinas here.
Best Casino Hotel Value: Located in the heart of the bustling El Cangrejo district, the Veneto, a Wyndham Grand Hotel attracts visitors with its incredibly competitive room rates, and keeps them there with lots of casino excitement, live entertainment and dining options (not to mention two distinct room decor options, one of which mimics the style of the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas). The room rates are truly impressive for a full-service hotel with casino, rooftop pool and spa — and it’s a real breath of fresh air for those of us who remember the days when Panama City was home to way too many over-priced, mediocre hotels. Thanks for leveling the playing field by combining great room rates, good location and amenities, Veneto!
Read my full review of the Veneto here.
Best Retro Cool Pool Oasis: El Panama Convention Center and Casino, a member of Summit Hotels & Resorts, is most likely the only hotel in Panama City with an internationally famous 20th-century architect. Designed by Edward Durell Stone and opened in the 1950s as a Hilton hotel, its landmark-worthy architecture still exudes a bit of mid-century-modern cool. But the most beautiful part of the hotel is the swimming pool — a large, seductively curvaceous body of water that’s surrounded by palm trees. Unlike most hotel pools in Panama City, this one is spacious and even has a real deep end, as well as a swim-up bar. With its lush landscaping and the guest rooms that surround it, the pool area is a peaceful oasis that makes it easy to forget that you’re in the middle of a very busy city.
Read my full review of the El Panama hotel here.
Best Overall Value: The TRYP by Wyndham Panama Centro, which opened in 2012 in the popular El Cangrejo district, offers one of the best overall combinations of price, amenities and location that I’ve found in my visits to more than a dozen Panama City hotels. Free WiFi, free hot breakfast buffet, a value-priced happy hour and lunch and dinner menu, and a rooftop pool, gym and spa — all in a brand-new building in the heart of one of Panama City’s best neighborhoods, with rates starting under $100 a night for a double room.
Read my full review of the TRYP by Wyndham Panama Centro here.
Best Rooftop Swimming Pool: The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower has a postcard-perfect rooftop pool complex on its 13th floor, with five separate pools including two infinity pools that are ideal for lounging and gazing at the Pacific waters stretching out front of you. The adjacent bar serves a variety of refreshments and food, at reasonable prices.
See my VIDEO of the Trump Ocean Club hotel here.
Coolest Overall Style: Part of Starwood Hotels and owned by Bern Hotels & Resorts, Le Meriden Panama exudes sleek, contemporary style, with a cool black granite lobby, dramatic lighting and artwork. The hotel participates in the EXPLORE LM100 program, which allows creative individuals to curate the decoration of the property.
Read my full review of the Le Meridien Panama hotel here.
Best View: The soaring Miramar InterContinental, which sits on a prime spot on the waterfront, enjoys the absolute best views of the bay as well as the Cinta Costera waterfront boulevard. Reserve a room on the club floor and you’ll enjoy access to a rooftop swimming pool that has especially photo-worthy vistas.
The Miramar InterContinental Panama also made it onto LatinFlyer’s list of 5 Great Rooftop Hotel Bars in Latin America.
Best Suites: Check into a one-bedroom suite at the new tower at the Bristol Panama, and it will be easy to fool yourself into thinking that you’ve moved permanently into your own luxury apartment. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the Bristol Panama is one of the most upscale and comfortable properties in the city, with well-appointed suites and superb service.
Read my full review of the Bristol Panama hotel here.
Best Beach: Panama City itself doesn’t have a beach, but the most convenient option lies just across Las Americas bridge: The Westin Playa Bonita, which opened in early 2012, and the adjacent InterContinental Playa Bonita, together offer an array of beachfront indulgences, including multiple restaurants, swimming pools and spa facilities.
Watch my VIDEO of the Westin Playa Bonita hotel and resort here.
Ones to watch: The American Trade Hotel is making a splash in the Casco Antiguo, while the TRYP by Wyndham Panama Allbrook Mall is ideal for shopaholics and the Aloft Panama City offers fresh style and reasonable rates near the convention center. Stay tuned to LatinFlyer.com for more hotel reviews.
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