Panama City Hotels – Avoid Slum Areas
Our Panama Travel plan started with 4 days in Panama City on arrival, and another 2 days there at the end of the trip.
When choosing a place from your shortlist of Panama City hotels, you really need to make sure you’re locating yourself in the right area. If you search away from the centre – with its relatively small and upmarket high-rise district – you can quickly find yourself in rundown slum areas with a heavy police presence.
You wouldn’t want to be returning alone late to your hotel in these districts.
Panama City Hotels – Occidental
Our first hotel choice in Panama City was the centrally-located Occidental Hotel.
Despite their failure to pick us up from the airport as pre-arranged, the hotel was a very pleasant surprise. We were given a large room, with perhaps the most comfortable bed we’ve ever experienced. Our room was fully equipped, including minibar fridge, coffee machine and bathrobes.
We had an impressive elevated city view and a large comfortable bathroom. The buffet breakfast was excellent, and the staff efficient, friendly and helpful. The only minor issue was the lack of any of the usual tourist brochures and city information in the reception area.
Just around the corner from the hotel is the Iglesia Del Carmen metro as well as the large and well-equipped 24/7 Rey’s Supermarket.
The hotel is around 15- minutes walk from the Panama City seafront promenade, and 30-minutes walk from the Seafood Market, at the lower end of the promenade.
We paid $66 per night for the Occidental Hotel, including taxes and breakfast. If ever we get the chance to return to Panama City, we would stay there again.
Panama City Hotels – Centroamericano
We were not so lucky with the 2nd of our Panama city hotels, which we booked for 2 nights on our way back.
The Hotel Centroamericano is located in a seedier part of the city, not far from metro Loteria. You don’t need to walk far from the hotel before wandering into the city slum areas in the surrounding backstreets.
The hotel itself is respectable enough, but not worth the money ($44 per night).
The room we had booked 3 months earlier was a standard room with balcony and various facilities. When we arrived the room they gave us was not the balcony room we had booked (they were very sorry, but they had given that room to someone else).
Instead we had a poky little room with a small window overlooking the back, and very few of the advertised amenities. The double bed was small and uncomfortable, and there was no hot water.
Breakfast wasn’t included in the price. You could purchase this separately for $5 per person. From what we saw of their breakfast, you would be better off just getting coffee and snacks from the small shops nearby.
An airport taxi transfer from the Hotel Centroamericano costs $25 for 2 people. A little less than the $30 it cost us to travel in from the airport four weeks earlier (see Avianca from Bogota to Panama).
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