The Coolest Hostels and Hotels to Book in Panama City
There's more to Panama City than that famous canal. Book your stay in one of these hostels to get to know the real capital. | © Rosemarie Stennull / Alamy Stock Photo
Book your perfect Panama pad at a nice price. With Culture Trip, it’s a cinch.
From a wild rainforest in the city limits to two oceans’ worth of beautiful beaches, Panama’s capital has plenty to offer besides that famous canal. It’s great value, too. So, check in at one of the best hostels in the city – yours to book via Culture Trip – and get exploring.
© El Machico / Booking.com
El Machico occupies a slot on a quiet street in the financial district. It has restaurants on the doorstep and the Pacific Ocean boulevard is a couple of blocks away, while old Spanish Panama is 20 minutes away by bike (the hostel has free cycles). There’s a big pool and the tours booked in-house are excellent value. Rooms are bare except for iron beds and bunks, so check out the lounge areas, which have plenty of social space. There’s even a pool table and a bar.
A pool set in a leafy garden. A big TV lounge, games area and kitchen. Breakfast thrown in. There’s plenty to like about Los Mostros. The hostel has a lively feel and there are near-daily activities in the bar-restaurant (which is daubed in psychedelic street art): everything from salsa dancing to tequila-shot happy hours. Dorms are spartan, with wooden bunks; book the eight-room mixed dorm, since it’s the only one with an en suite. From here, the new centre (with plenty of places to eat) is only a short stroll away.
Emblazoned with trippy street art and set in a balcony-fronted Belle Epoque mansion right next to the old centre, Luna’s Castle is one of Panama City’s best backpacker haunts. There’s a lively bar, where you’ll get cheap shots and decent street-food snacks. Expect also a huge TV lounge, and stunning city and ocean views from many of the dorms. There are privacy curtains on the wooden bunks, but don’t check in wanting calm; this is a big party hostel and the music throbs into the small hours.
Exclusively for guests over the age of 21 (and with a “clothing optional” pool and Panama City’s only axe-throwing wall), Armonia attracts a select crowd – a lot of singletons, too. Dorms and rooms, which are stencilled with striking street art, are lightly furnished with beds and lockers. Upgrade to a private suite if you want a lockable door. Stays include big breakfasts, after which you can head out and explore; the hostel is right next to the rainforested swathes of the Metropolitan Park.
The Panama City branch of this international co-worker chain, aimed at budget travelers, is in the heart of the old Spanish-colonial Casco Viejo, with plenty of bars and dining joints on the doorstep. Dorms and doubles are pricier than hostel-standard but are also a cut above. They have fashionable distressed woods, on-brand stencil art and, in some accommodation, expansive Pacific views. There’s plenty of social space, too; pick your spot by the pool, on the yoga deck, in the movie room or among the guests going on walks and learning how to make ceviche.
© The Beach House / Expedia
Feeling more like a value hotel than a hostel, the Beach House presides over a strip of gray sand on Naos Island – linked to the city by the long Calzada de Amador promenade. There are no dorms, just rooms and suites, all with a clean, cream palette, a scattering of darkwood-laminate fitted furniture and a balcony with an ocean view. There’s a big pool too, and breakfast is included. Embark on a 10-minute cab ride if you want to hit the Casco Viejo for restaurants and bars.
© Amador Familiar / Expedia
Staying in the Amador feels very back-to-nature: it’s in a big red shutterboard house, next to the Bio Museum in shady Tamburelli Park. You’re an easy stroll from forest-swathed Sosa Hill and the Reserva Cerro Ancón, which teems with all creatures great and small. All dorms come with tangerine-colored beds and curtains (no bunks), while there are also lime-green doubles with en suites, a large kitchen and an alfresco dining area. With no bar or rushing traffic, the only noise comes from birds, tree frogs and cicadas. Pure peace.
Carmencita is well-positioned for getting pretty much anywhere; it’s just south of downtown Panama City, a block from the main transport thoroughfare Vía España and a 10-minute walk from Vía Argentina Metro Station. Plus, there are plenty of cafes and shops on the doorstep. Despite the central location, stays are tranquil: simple en suites (there are no dorms) with floral wallpaper or tropical colors have fitted wardrobes and bedside tables. You’ve also got access to a family townhouse with a patio garden.
These recommendations were updated on September 20, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.