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“A Little Oasis in the City” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Balboa Inn

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The Balboa Inn
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Cruces 2311A | Balboa, Ancon, Panama City, Panama   |  
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Ranked #14 of 71 Panama City B&B and Inns
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“A Little Oasis in the City”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 26, 2013

We stayed at The Balboa Inn for one full week recently, and overall, we were very happy that we had chosen it as our home base for the week.

The Inn is located in a very nice, safe area of the city. As many other travellers have noted, its location is extremely convenient, since you’re just a short taxi ride away from many of the sights in the city and surrounding areas, and it offers excellent value. There isn’t a whole lot that you’re able to walk to in the vicinity (aside from Ancon Hill, and the Panal Canal Administration Building - both worth visiting), so plan on taking cabs pretty much everywhere else....but that wasn’t a big issue, since the cabs were very affordable.

Bill & Mieke are great inn-keepers, and will go out of their way to ensure you have a pleasant stay. Also, they will assist with arranging tours for you if you like, and will provide you with advice about restaurants, areas to visit, areas to avoid, etc., so don’t be afraid to ask them if you need assistance.

The common area at the back (where breakfast is served) is great for observing the birds and other wildlife (including the family of Agoutis who call this oasis their home!). The daily breakfasts were quite sufficient and included eggs (prepared fresh according to your liking) and a little meat (seemed to rotate through ham, bacon, and sausage, which was more like a frankfurter). There were also some cereals, yoghurt, fresh cut fruit (usually pineapple, watermelon, and sometimes papaya, if I recall correctly), sliced breads (you can toast the bread), coffee, teas, and cheese slices.

Here are some tips we thought we’d pass along:

To grab a cab, just walk down to Calle Balboa and flag one down, but make sure you have plenty of small bills/change since some cabs may not have change. Also, try to negotiate a rate before you get in; we had plenty of taxi drivers try to over-charge us for rides, so ask Bill or Mieke in advance how much a cab should cost to get you to your destination. If they want considerably more than that, then just tell them TOO MUCH, and they’ll either drive off, or lower it. As an example, we were quoted $25 for a ride that should only cost maybe $6-$8.

Make sure you always take along with you the map that is provided by the Bill & Mieke; most taxi drivers won’t have heard of the Inn, and even with the map, it sometimes takes them a while to figure out where to go; some of them still had to call someone to figure out where to go! My tip would be to print off a slightly larger (expanded area), detailed map in advance of your trip (from Google Maps or similar), and keep that with you.

Although not related to the Inn, if you’re buying alcohol to take back home with you, don’t plan to buy it at any of the duty free shops at the airport, since they are outrageously expensive. Save about 60% or more, and buy it at a grocery store (i.e. Super 99 or Reys). The hard liquor is ‘very’ cheap in Panama; the wine, not as much.

We stayed in Room 5, and found it to be a great room. We had originally been in Room 6, but requested to be moved, since it had a very low platform bed, which we didn’t find the most comfortable. Room 5 also had a closet, which was nice, and it seemed a little quieter than Room 6.

We had booked the room in advance, including airport transfers, but some confusion had happened with our taxi pick-up at the airport. We called the Inn after waiting for a few minutes, and there appeared to have been a technical glitch with the reservation system, so we grabbed another cab, and Thorold paid the driver when he arrived at the Inn. My recommendation would be to confirm with the Inn prior to your arrival about the taxi pick-up, if you’ve requested that, and then when you arrive just to confirm that the cab is on its way, if it isn’t already there.

It’s the rainy season now in Panama, so don’t expect to see sunshine all day long. Luckily, we never got caught in one of the down-pours, but be aware of that potential if you’re out and about. If it’s a really rainy day, try to check out Albrook Mall, which is short taxi-ride from the Inn. It’s ‘huge’, and will keep you busy for several hours!

We had a wonderful experience in Panama City, and we’d highly recommend The Balboa Inn for those looking for a bed & breakfast option, at a very reasonable rate. Thank you for your hospitality, Bill & Mieke!

Room Tip: We stayed in Room 5, and found it to be a great room. We had originally been in Room 6, but requeste...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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355 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (28)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
New Orleans, LA
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2013

I did a lot of careful research to decide where to stay for my visit to Panama City. I chose the Balboa Inn because I wanted to be in close proximity to everything the city had to offer but in a quiet neighborhood where I could see some wildlife. The Balboa Inn was perfect.

Advantages:

• Thorwald was a wonderful host.
• The Inn was clean and comfortable.
• Breakfast was good and plentiful and is included in the price of the room: eggs, cereal, ham, yogurt, juice, coffee, toast, peanut butter, etc.
• The Balboa Inn is just a few blocks (maybe 4) from a major roadway so catching a cab is easy or the staff will call a cab for you.
• It’s a quiet, pretty neighborhood in which to relax after navigating the crazy, energetic city.
• The staff can help you book excursions.
• It was like staying in someone’s home. One night it was pouring rain and Thorwald and I ordered pizza for delivery and chatted over dinner. It was good pizza too!

Disadvantages:
For me these were not disadvantages, but be aware…

• There are only a few choices to eat near the Inn. There is a nice restaurant that I didn’t try, a food stand near the mini mart, which had great grilled chicken and Niko’s Café. Niko’s is a cafeteria with super cheap eats and a great bakery.
• Hiking to the top of Cerro Ancon and a little artists market is about the only activities within walking distance. You’ll have to take a cab everywhere else. However, I doubt there is any place you could stay that would be within walking distance to everything you want to do. The city is sprawling. Cabs are fairly cheap. Although, I think they’re cheaper for locals than for tourists! Oh, well, what’s a buck or two?
• The Balboa Inn is a bed and breakfast, so don’t expect the Waldorf Astoria or a Trump property. No chocolate on the pillow, no turn-down service, no room service. It’s not uptight or stuffy or gilded. It’s a good, clean, sweet little inn run by super nice people.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eersel, The Netherlands
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
56 hotel reviews
Reviews in 63 cities Reviews in 63 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

We stayed in this B&B at the beginning and at the end of our self-drive tour through wonderful Panama. We stayed three nights in total.
Second time arrival felt like we were coming home. Managers Bill and Mieke have been great hosts: they know the country very well and gave very useful advices, such as a great fish restaurant at Amador causeway.
The B&B has a small garden that was teeming with all kinds of birds, due to the location close to the protected Ancon hill nature reserve.
To get to the city, we had to take taxis. Some taxi drivers had difficulty finding the B&B, so take the map that Mieke and Bill provide.
We found the room furniture a little basic and outdated, except for the nice mural paintings. The rooms could use some makeover in our opinion.
Other than that, we loved the quietness of the location, the morning's waking up with bird sounds instead of traffic, the good breakfasts, the birds and the hosts. Thanks Mieke and Bill!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2013

We stayed at the Balboa Inn for the beginning of our journey to Panama and again at the end. From the minute we arrived it felt like home. Bill and Mieke were amazing hosts, very helpful, very accommodating, and extremely enjoyable to visit with on the terrace. The breakfasts were great, it's in a nice residential area that is close to the airport, the bus terminal, and Albrook mall. There are a few restaurants within walking distance. We couldn't get a taxi to the ferry one morning so Bill woke early to drive us there. Mieke reserved a 2 day excursion for us to San Blas while we were off exploring Panama. When we arrived there for the end of our stay, I only had one foot out of the taxi before they were both at the door to greet us....ahhh, home sweet home! This was truly an amazing place to stay because of the hosts. I will definitely recommend to anyone that wants a carefree place to stay in Panama City. Even though the Balboa Inn is in Panama City, it sure didn't feel like it.

Room Tip: Stayed in two different rooms but room # 10 was my favourite because it opens to the terrace
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hartland, Vermont
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

We enjoyed our stay with Mieke and Bill - two very helpful hosts who are well suited for the job! Breakfasts were delicious and the open-air breakfast area tropically pleasant. The neighborhood is residential and quiet but for the occasional small plane taking off or landing at the nearby local airport. Several eateries within walking distance but English is definitely a second language here.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2013

I recommend Balboa Inn Bed & Breakfast highly. It is centrally located which makes it a great base point or a perfect way to begin your trip. Mieke & Bill Hamilton have a great family approach to making our stay flawless. They exceeded our expectations by providing excellent service and always sharing helpful information. They are the ultimate concierge, which made everything easier for us. The Hamilton’s were full of knowledge of Panama City and other neighboring cities, no question was too big for them to answer. They even provided us a driver for a fee who was just as friendly and knowledgeable of the area. We will definitely stay here if we return to Panama.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mannheim, Germany
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2013

We felt like home from the first minute we arrived. Mieke and Bill are perfect hosts always helpful and giving useful advice for an enjoyable stay in Panama and Panama City - they are perfect managers and very nice people too. The rooms are very clean and provide you with everything you need and the sitting on their garden veranda is much better than a visit to any botanical garden - the perfect place for a stay in Panama City. We wish we can be back soon.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Balboa Inn

Address: Cruces 2311A | Balboa, Ancon, Panama City, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 71 B&Bs / Inns in Panama City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Balboa Inn is a small Bed & Breakfast at the foot of Panama's main landmark, Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancón) in Balboa. Conveniently located between the downtown area, Amador Causeway and just minutes away from the domestic Albrook Airport, Casco Viejo, and the Panama Canal you are away from the city noise yet have access to all its services. The Balboa Inn: a great location, personal service, a real breakfast. Simply good value. Why settle for less? ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Balboa Hotel Panama City
The Balboa Inn Panama/Panama City

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