Why Panama Needs To Be Next On Your Bucket List!
In case you haven't heard me banging on about this place for the last year, I thought I'd devote a blog post to it, just to be sure you get the message - you have to go and stay at the one and only American Trade Hotel, Panama ! Part of the uber trendy Ace Hotel chain, if you haven't checked out the brand before, why not make this your first ace experience (sorry that was so..."punful"!)
Last March, Stefan and I jetted off to explore Panama for two weeks. The trip couldn't have started any better with our first night at the American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo "Old Town", Panama City. The antique design set against modern, finer splashes of shiny metals makes this the perfect combination of vintage-glam. It is stunningly, clever design. The charm of a historic building being beautifully restored, satisfying modern styles and yet keeping true to its story was certainly not lost on us. We were amidst renovating our slightly less grandiose (!) 2 bed apartment and we were definitely very influenced by our stay here. The more intuitive of you will recognise the hotel's timber cladding walls in our master bedroom as well as geometric tiled hints in our kitchen and bathrooms.
The rooms are painted white with polished wood details, gold trims and marble tiled bathrooms. The vibe is both eclectic and modern with 1940s features incorporated with modern amenities and first class design.
In total, there are 50 rooms, ranging from their cuarto chico (one king bed) rooms to a lavish two-roomed suite. Every room is outfitted with locally made reclaimed wood furnishings, 32-inch plasma TVs, high ceilings, rain showers, Aesop bath products and balcony views looking out on Plaza Herrera or the greater Casco Viejo area.
We actually only stayed one night at the American Trade as we were budgeting for a two week holiday but it is still the place we're raving about, over a year later! We paid approximately US$250 for the night. Not expensive by Cayman's standards but fairly pricey for Panama. One night was all we need to leave the hotel fully inspired and in love with Panama.
"The property and surrounding area are steeped in local heritage and culture, while the hotel has been thoroughly outfitted with the contemporary conveniences and modern luxuries today's traveler requires. The property is the result of a joint undertaking between Atelier Ace, Panama City-based Conservatorio, and Commune Design. American Trade Hotel is the first independent addition to Atelier Ace's portfolio, which also includes the distinctive Ace Hotels." Summarises their website.
The original town of Casco Viejo is inspiring and it's also the happening area of the new wave of refurbishment in the city. Boutique hotels and trendy bars are being revamped out of old, derelict buildings creating a sub-city full of traditional architecture put to good use. We didn't struggle to find fun, interesting places to explore, eat and dine. We'd highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat and a roof-top drink at the Tantalo Hotel, just around the corner (see pic below). In Panama City there are all the things you've heard of to enjoy - good shopping, the Panama Canal (which is expanding!) and a bustling Latin American nightlife to enjoy.
If you're looking to stay for more than a weekend in Panama, I'd recommend venturing out of the city. We hit up the fairly unknown coffee region of Boquete via David on the local buses - it's a bit of a trek but we had time to spare and it was very much worth our time to experience the Panama countryside and enjoy a change in altitude from our island life (see pics below).
We then went on to the surfer town of Bocas tel Toro which was good fun too if not a little over-done in terms of tourism. If you're only going to Panama a few days and want to experience the rainforest head to the resort of Gamboa which we heard great things about.
It's nice to get out of a city to experience the full diversity of a country and Panama certainly has lots to offer.
American Trade Hotel