Why Panama is a great destination for luxury travel at great prices

Many travelers dream of staying in top luxury hotels. But prohibitive prices often keep them away — especially now, as inflation drives up the cost of travel. For those wanting a luxurious yet affordable getaway with an international brand hotel, however, there’s one place that should be on the radar: Panama.

You can book luxury hotels in Panama City at prices that are significantly lower than similarly branded accommodations in other countries throughout the Americas. So if your goal is to stay at an international luxury hotel brand without straining your credit card, Panama City is a viable option, thanks to its undeniably sophisticated—and certainly competitive—local hotel scene.


Current trend

A quick search of luxury hotel brands in Panama City reveals a variety of options that are often priced to beat similar offerings elsewhere in the Americas. Among the newest and most notable examples is Hotel La Compañía, a gorgeous property that is the first member of Hyatt’s The Unbound Collection in Central America. In the historic and trendy Casco Antiguo district and among several historic buildings that have been beautifully renovated, La Compañía sometimes offers rooms for less than $300 a night, compared to rates approaching $600 at the Chicago Athletic Association, Unbound Collection’s property in the Windy City.

Travelers who enjoy the W’s modern vibe will also find a notable — and attractively priced — option in this Central American metropolis: the W Panama sometimes offers rooms for as little as $188, compared to $290 and up at the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills. W Panama offers unique activities such as sunset yoga on the WET Deck and has a large spa with exquisite treatments.

Even more affordable, surprisingly, is the Waldorf Astoria Panama, where it’s not uncommon for room rates to drop below $200 a night—a stark contrast to the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal in Mexico, for example, where rates start at more than $1,000 a night. Night. The beautifully designed property in Panama exudes urban chic and features a spa, outdoor pool and multiple dining and drinking venues.

W Panama Room, Marriott International
W Panama Room. (photo courtesy of Marriott International)

Panama’s elegant skyline is dotted with an ever-increasing number of high-rise towers, and several of them house hotels with outstanding views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. For ocean views, it’s hard to beat properties like the Hilton Panama, which sits on Cinta Costera’s beachfront boulevard and offers room rates starting at just over $200 a night.

Rates at the InterContinental Miramar Panama City, a high-rise that also offers great views, can start at $160. One of the city’s longest-running high-rise luxury hotels, the InterContinental features multiple dining and beverage venues, a pool and spa. (The InterContinental Presidente Mexico City, by contrast, charges rates starting at around $300 a night, while the Real InterContinental in San Jose, Costa Rica, starts at well over $200 a night).

Also in an impressive high-rise is the JW Marriott Panama, which is housed in a 70-story sail-shaped building that happens to be the tallest building in Central America. Room rates at this elegant luxury property start at $160 per night. The JW Marriott Hotel Bogota in Colombia, meanwhile, more often charges around $300 for its cheapest accommodations.

JW Marriott Panama pool, Marriott International
JW Marriott Panama Pool. (photo courtesy of Marriott International)

Westin is represented in Panama by two notable hotels, both of which offer room rates that can be well under $200 a night: the Westin Playa Bonita Panama, a resort just outside of Panama City, and the Westin Panama, located in Panama. The city’s upscale Costa del Este neighborhood. (Staying at the Westin Lima in Peru, meanwhile, will likely cost more than $200 a night, while the all-inclusive Westin Reserva Conchal, an all-inclusive Golf Resort and Spa, can easily set you back close to $500 the night. )

Fans of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World consortium can also find an attractive option in Panama City. Located in the Casco Antiguo district in a renovated building dating back to 1917, the American Trade Hotel offers room rates starting in the mid-$200s.

Whether it’s boutique style, high-rise chic or traditional elegance, Panama City offers plenty of opportunities to experience it without breaking the bank.

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