by Suzanne Morphet

The charm of the past and the luxury of today...

Central Hotel PanamaCourtesy Central Hotel Panama

If you love checking into a hotel that’s both historic and luxurious, then deciding where to stay in Panama City will be easy. It’s got to be the Central Hotel Panama.

 When it opened in 1874, it was the first hotel in the country. At the turn of the century it was the meeting place of revolutionaries, where, in 1903, they proclaimed Panama’s independence and appointed its first president.

The Grand Central Hotel, as it was originally called, also hosted U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Ferdinand de Lesseps – the mastermind behind the French effort to build the Panama Canal. Eventually, the Grand Central and other buildings in Panama’s Old Quarter fell into disrepair.  Recently however, Casco Antiguo – as the historic area is known – has been undergoing a renaissance deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage designation.

Central Hotel Panama PremiumCourtesy Central Hotel Panama

In 2016, Central Hotel Panama re-opened after months of meticulous restoration. The beautiful, balconied façade is gleaming white once again. Inside, polished and painted wooden staircases lead up to three floors of rooms that overlook light-filled interior courtyards or pedestrian-friendly outside streets.

 The 135 rooms come in a variety of sizes and styles but all boast luxurious linens and the latest amenities, right down to robes and slippers. Open the French doors in an outer room and you’ll be delighted with the balcony, perfect for two people enjoying a nightcap in the warm air and watching the action below. If you need to cool off, there’s a swimming pool on the top floor. 

Central Hotel Panama RestaurantCourtesy Central Hotel Panama

 On the main level, a buffet breakfast is served to guests each morning, while the Argentinean-style restaurant 9 Reinas is open to all. Specializing in meat and hand-made pasta, the restaurant is partly owned by Javier Mascherano of FC Barcelona fame, perhaps reason enough for soccer fans to pay a visit.

Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Fall 2017 issue.

 

 

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