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“Great place; so much character!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Panama Hotel

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Panama Hotel
605 1/2 S Main St., Seattle, WA 98104 (Downtown)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #71 of 95 Hotels in Seattle
Vancouver, Canada
1 review
“Great place; so much character!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2010

The Panama Hotel was definitely an excellent experience for me. I traveled with my mother, and we are always looking for different, unique places to stay. If you want the usual very prim and neat hotel, this is not the place for you. If you enjoy heritage and history and are willing to sacrifice a few things for the time you are staying in Seattle, book a room here!
In the rooms, there is antique furniture and just a sink. If you need a washroom, there is a full washroom just down the hall from your room. I never encountered anyone while using the washroom, so there was no need to rush. There was a claw-foot tub, which I loved. There are no elevators there, with it being a heritage building. However, the hotel is only 3 levels high, so it shouldn't be a problem as long as you are mobile and able to climb a few flights of stair. The staff are very friendly, and I have maintained a friendship with the owner, Jan. I never experienced any paranormal activity while I stayed there, but I wish I had! besides the occasional creak in the floor from someone walking to the washroom, it was very quiet.
One of the best things about this hotel is the cafe downstairs. They have jars and jars of loose-leaf tea, and their baked good are to die for. If they have sweet cheese croissants, buy as many as you can! There are historic photos for you to look at while you wait, and a pane of glass on the floor to look into the basement to see articles of clothing and furniture they found when they converted it to a hotel.
Across the street is Kobe Park, which I highly recommend you check out. It seems very tiny, but if you follow the different paths, each one leads to a public garden.
All in all, a very, VERY amazing place to stay!

  • Stayed August 2007
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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
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87 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (18)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2009

I have no idea what some of the folks are talking about. Did they stay someplace else? Look this is a very cute and shined up workers hotel from the turn of the century. Yes the bath and toilet are down the hall. Yes the rooms have wonderful old beds with super soft duvettes. Yes it is slightly goofy and informal but my 9 year old daughter and I loved it. Jan Johnson the owner should get a medal for being the most generous and personable hosts I have ever stayed with and I have travelled all over the world.

Her Tea House next door is considered to be one of Seattles true gems. She is a walking encyclopedia regarding the history of Seattle's Japanese community.

If you want a absolutely memorable experience stay here if you want a jacuzzi and 1980's brass and glass stay at the the Marriot. This place is wonderful.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Southern California
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2009

The Panama was a great break from the Hyatt, or another "high-end" Hotel. My girlfriend and I were looking for a good establishment during a busy holiday weekend and really enjoyed everything about the Panama. Oh, and free pastries and coffee,tea every morning, in the tea room!

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria BC
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2009

My friend and I discovered, after reserving our Clipper tickets, that all the hostels in Seattle were full. ALL of them. We were determined to go, however, so we looked up hotels, not expecting anything we could really afford. Listing in order of most economical, the Panama stood out so we read the reviews. Most of the contributors do not like it at all, some even claiming the place is haunted & creepy. We figured it can't be too busy then, so I called about a double bed room and was told they had one open. We tried to reserve it over the phone with my friend's credit card but the clerk said a room was reserved for us that weekend. This made me a little nervous: after reading the reviews, I feared it wasn't too secure, and we were concerned about having nothing to fall back on.
Well, we needn't have worried at all. Upon our arrival, yes the stairs were daunting, but it was so funny and quaint to see some dude sitting up there with his little table & drawer, writing in a book! After arranging our stay, we were shown to the next floor up ~ MORE STAIRS ~ and led to a very nice, tidy and extremely comfy, 2 double-bed room with filmy curtain and antique furniture. It felt like being in a classic movie! It really was beautiful. It had a bare, thrifty and commonsense atmosphere, but it was reassuring somehow.
The ladies restroom down the hall has a clawfoot tub.... just make sure you check with management for a plug. I had to improvise with a wrapped piece of soap that just happened to fit in the drain quite nicely. Also, the hot water wasn't great so I settled for a cool pick-me-up instead of the hot soak I anticipated. Still, I mean to enjoy that tub next time we're there.
... because we absolutely want to stay there again, for two nights instead of just one!

  • Stayed July 2009
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, OR
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2008

I'm a younger man in my mid twenties. Based on other reviews it seems i maybe more flexible than others who have stayed overnight at the Panama. What i like about it is how real and safe the place feels. Each room has a real antique wooden Vanity, real wool and down blankets, real old mirrors, real windows, real beds, and really great prices considering it in the middle of downtown and cost 1/3 a night the price of surrounding hotels. without the awful pine-sol or cherry cleanser smells. without gray 90's furniture, without b.s framed ambient artwork similar to whats found in fast food restaurants. Bathrooms are shared but i never encountered anyone during my stay. When i stay at a hotel I'm there to enjoy the surroundings during the day, and sleep there at night. Why vacation to watch TV in the rooms right? I stay there every time i visit. PLUS the coffee downstairs is worth it!!

WORD OF WARNING!!!! It is a 3 story hotel, and all three floors are haunted by Japanese ghosts. i have experienced there presence first hand, although the (sometimes eccentric) staff will deny this at all cost, especially the owner Jan. (don't even mention it), this was confirmed by a staff member who should remain anonymous. '3rd' floor IS the most haunted, the '1st' floor has little activity. A night during the slow season is best. Experience sounds of people sprinting by your room's door, doors slamming, doors shaking, window sounds, what sounds to be high heels on wood, although the hallways have plush carpet, and if your 'lucky' you'll see 1920's Japanese men and women sometimes speaking to one another and who never acknowledge you. Do not worry though, whom ever haunts this place is friendly and appears to enjoy sprinting for hours in the middle of the nigh(12:00am - 5:00am) though the halls over picking on guests. Most interestingly about the haunting is if you hear the sprinting sounds, they stop if you are about to open your bedroom's door to check on it, sometime appearing as if they stop in front of your door. It stops right when you grab the door knob, and not when you open the door. How do 'they' know? Send your friend or wife off to the hallway bathroom in the middle of the night. close the doors. The sprinting will continue, but only between the bathroom and bedroom!! amazing! If you ever wondered if ghosts exist, try the Panama during the slow season, bring a friend!! the hallways are super haunted, NOT THE ROOMS. I love this place!

  • Liked — Ghosts
  • Disliked — Lying Staff
  • Stayed July 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2008

First off, I called in making a reservations for 2 beds, upon arrival we had to walk up some steep looking steps & met the person whom I assume is the owner & this gray-haired man that "patrols" there at night. We were told that they needed to search & see if there were any rooms available, we waited for about half an hour watching them waundering back & forth from searching rooms & reading pamphlets on the historical japanese immigrant hotel, all four of us had to give them our licenses so they could copy them, which made us even more creeped out thinking our identities were going to be stolen ha. Finally when we were shown to a 2 bed-bedroom we were shown the seperate bathroom & shower rooms across the hall, then followed into our room by the Owner & the attendant, where he stayed while folding towels & chatted with us about his days in the military & all the things he smoked, & that he is living on the 2 brain cells he has left. As we went back down the stairs to welcome in the other guests we followed once more by the attendant who came in with more towels(which was nice) but the fact that he lingered & told us he lives there & that he doesnt welcome crack heads & what not..was not very heartwarming. As he proceeded to leave he showed us how to lock & unlock the door & then the owner came back with the pamphlet on the hotel & dwelled a moment or so also. it was kind of creepy-nice as they were trying to be, we still couldnt get out of the eery feeling we got. The linens were nice, though it started to heat up in the hotel & was uncomfortable at one point in the night. It was an experience alright. Overall the owner seemed nice, it was just an old hotel with creepy people. ha but I guess thats what made the experience.

  • Liked — the friends that were with me.
  • Disliked — the eeriness
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Covington, Kentucky
Top Contributor
121 reviews 121 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2008

I read the mixed reviews and was really hesitant about reserving without seeing it, so I waiting to I got to Seattle and decided to stop in and see the hotel before booking. The location appeared to be in a safe part of town, and had a clean appearance. I met Jan who was the caretaker, super friendly lady. The hotel was dated, which I had expected since it was advertised as trying to maintain its "natural feel". I am all about historic preservation so I did admire the property for this reason. She showed me the "deluxe" room located on first floor. Evidently there are standard rooms on the upper floors which cater to people "looking for a place to crash for the night" The rooms are simple, the deluxe price I believe paid for better linens and "era decorated" rooms. I was quoted a price of $98.00 originally (with breakfast inlcuded). When I did the walk thru, she quoted me a price of $85.00, well knowing it would be both myself and wife staying there. I assumed she was noticing my hesitations and trying to lure me in. I consulted my wife, and we agreed since it was close to downtown to go ahead and book it. I called back later that evening as I told them to book the room for Saturday night. The person quoted me a price of $113, explaining it was $15 for an extra person. I told him I spoke to the proprietor earlier, and quoted me a discounted rate. He said he would have her call me which she never did. I should have gone on my instinct and just looked someone else, but since it was the weekend I did not want to put additional time and effort tracking down another place. Upon arrival, the room I was originally shown and told would be held for me was changed. Instead, we were given a room to the front of hotel. Didn't think much about it at first, as we has to get changed and got meet friends for dinner. We arrived later back at hotel, and by now just wanted to get rest. Here's where it really went downhill. One mistake I made was not testing the beds. The liners were nice, but the mattress had no support. What made matters worse, was it was a metal framed spring bed. So I would compare it to sleeping on a trampoline, only more unstable. Next. it was unseasonably warm that weekend in Seattle. To compound this the hotel had no AC, not even a window unit. So we had to leave the unscreened window by a fire escape open all night (did not make me feel safe). On top of that, we were next to a busy intersection so the sounds of cars and passing drunkards went well into the early morning. We decided to stick around till 8:00am, where were told there would be breakfast available in the tea room. Since it was part of the cost of the room, we figured might as well eat there since we paid for it. Well even though the cost of room included breakfast, and the proprietor knowing we were staying Saturday night told me about the breakfast, we were only informed that moring that it not open on Sundays!! The guy at the front desk did offer me some pastries, but at this point just wanted to count my losses and move on. I really wanted to give this place the benefit of the doubt, but came away disappointed. My wife spent the last trip at a downtown hostel and said the accomodations were much nicer, plus she actually got a decnt nights sleep

  • Liked — historic property
  • Disliked — being mislead by staff, noises, uncomfortable sleep
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
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Additional Information about Panama Hotel

Address: 605 1/2 S Main St., Seattle, WA 98104
Location: United States > Washington > Seattle > Downtown , International District
Bar / Lounge Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #71 of 95 Hotels in Seattle
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 101
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Also Known As:
Panama Hotel Seattle

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