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“Not luxurious, but unforgettable.”
Review of Pan American Hotel

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Pan American Hotel
Ranked #21 of 49 Hotels in Guatemala City
GreenLeadersBronze level
College Park, Georgia
Level 6 Contributor
163 reviews
95 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 512 helpful votes
“Not luxurious, but unforgettable.”
Reviewed December 12, 2011

The Pan American is remarkable, and in some ways, unlike any other hotel you have recently experienced. As a result, I highly recommend that you try it, even if it is not luxurious, and more than a little quirky.

Actually chose the hotel as I’d enjoyed breakfast in the lobby four years previous. And when I needed to stay in Guatemala City the night before my flight, I figured I’d try it as an overnight spot.

What makes The Pan American so interesting is that it is old. Not historic and spruced up, mind you. Just old. Extremely well maintained, and notably clean. But not updated. I’d have to imagine that the hotel looks much like it did in the mid-40s, when the Astoria hotel became The Pan American.

The building is interesting, if not huge, on the outside--but the interior is grand in scale. The lobby ceiling is three stories high, and the resulting atrium houses the hotel’s restaurant. The bulk of the rooms are on the second floor--and the ceilings in this building are notably high.

Check-in was awful, frankly. I reserved through Hotels.com, but the communication between that website and the hotel had to have faltered--as they couldn’t find the reservation. Finally, I got room keys--but didn’t really like the room. The front desk clerk found four other rooms, and sent an attendant with me to see my alternatives.

All the rooms were of similar size--all with an interesting tile pattern, and a sagging double bed. Two of the rooms had walk-out balconies--very nice--but they faced the noisy street, so I returned to my original room.

Because the ceilings are so high, the rooms can seem smaller than they are. And the lighting is neither great, nor flattering. But all is quite clean, and in good repair. Remarkably so, given that nothing looks renovated. Repeatedly, you will walk around this hotel, and marvel at how spectacular some money and TLC would make it a showplace. Right now, it is just a period piece.

All the surfaces are quite live, so any noise in the atrium carries to the rooms. Of particular note, the hotel locks its front door, and any later guests returning have to ring a door buzzer--which you will hear. Just warning you. Selecting a room at the back of the hotel, however, really made things quieter. (Bring earplugs, anyway)

Some reviews of the hotel will note that there are hair dryers in the rooms, and a complimentary airport shuttle. Neither is accurate. . .no hair dryers anywhere (I asked) and you are on your own to get back to the airport. Taxi fare is about 90Q ($12 USD).

My rate included breakfast, and I really like breakfasts here. The Sunday buffet is quite complete, and the service for coffee, water, etc. possesses good follow up. Food is good too. Sitting in the lobby is a great way to watch goings on here.

The hotel’s bar has been buffed up--probably the spiffiest space in the hotel. Then again, it wasn’t open when I was there.

You can’t write about The Pan American without discussing its neighborhood, Zona 1, or as the hotel tries to rebrand it in advertising, the Centro Historico. Zona 1 (pronounced zona una) is Guatemala City’s historic downtown center, and The Pan American is in the very heart of it. The National Palace, The Cathedral, and the plaza on which they are centered are just a half block away, and other important buildings are nearby as well. While there is rich architectural detail around the hotel, much of Zona 1 is quite grungy as well--and the district has a reputation of being quite dangerous, particularly at night. It would be great if vacated for six months and all steam cleaned--but that is not going to happen. (In fact, the State Department prohibits personnel from staying in Zona 1). What has happened, however, is a rather dramatic clean up of Avenida 6, now blocked to traffic and called Paseo de la Sexta. I had dinner at Altuna--four blocks from the hotel--and asked the front desk if I could walk. Was surprised when he said yes--but he suggested walking down Avenida 6 rather than Avenida 5, where the restaurant’s front door is. The Saturday night I made the walk, Paseo de la Sexta was filled with couples and families strolling--and the street was spotless, nearly gleaming. Nice to see the progress--and as soon as you veer off the street, you will see the less well-lit, dirtier streets. Use caution--which included cabs most times after dark--and you will likely be fine.

The Pan American is not luxurious, but it is unforgettable. I would definitely recommend giving it a try for a short stay in Guatemala’s capital.

PS--The Municipal Market is a block away from the hotel, just in back of the Cathedral. As this market isn’t pretty, and since Guatemala City--especially Zona 1--doesn’t get all that much tourist traffic, the prices here are likely the best you will see on certain items during your trip to Guatemala. . .including shop and stall-filled Antigua and Chichi. If your travel in Guatemala includes Zona 1, be sure to shop here, and you might even want to hold off buying elsewhere for things like t-shirts, coffee burlap bags, etc.

Room Tip: Some rooms at the front have balconies, but are louder. Rooms at the back have no views, but are qu...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank TravelBeard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
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Houston, Texas
Level 5 Contributor
57 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed November 27, 2011

We flew into Guate late so we did not arrive at Pan American until after midnight. It located in the heart of the Centrohistorico, in famous Zona Uno. It's one block from the Parque Central, Palacio Nacianal, the Catedral, and many other beautiful, famous old locations. The guard had a automatic rifle and they lock the front entry after we got in. I was traveling with my nephew so we got a double.

The rooms are simple and small. Clean and sparce. I don't want to give the impression that they were bad just older and dated (circa 1950). It was comfortable and suited our purpose for the night.In the morning you get to see the hotel, and WOW, you can see and feel the former glory that it was once. I enjoyed the hotel and it dated feel, may I say historical?

Pro: Near a whole lot of places to explore in the morning
Cheap accommodations
helpful and supportive staff

Cons: at night, sketchy neighborhood but it all lock up at night
Dated but historical feel
beds and furniture not the best

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank momdadsefi2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed September 8, 2011

If you want the charm that only the natives can provide, go downtown by the square and stay here. Staff took care of me, food was excellent, bed and room was very comfortable, but opposite the street...you might want this if you're a light sleeper. The area is active at night with typically old mufflers sounding off. Great markets on the corner and stretched two blocks each way. The square has all the fresh fruit and snacks you need. This area is not for the infrequent or squeamish traveler, that's all uptown. And Guatemala City may be the hardest town I've had to drive...and Ellen is a good navigator. So, unless you've got experience in very large central american towns, you may want to get a taxi to this place and out....but the adventurer will rent and stay here.

Room Tip: stay in the back opposite the streets
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  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank MikeandEllen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Level 3 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed September 26, 2010

This Hotel has always been a "classic" where tourists and locals used to have a pleasant time, locals with the "Centro Histórico" nostalgia. Too bad they are not keeping the place as beautiful as it used to be. Just a comment about the restaurant, I had breakfast today with my family and it was a total disaster. The quality of food has dropped so badly since they are offering some special discounts that you have to be very careful about choosing from the buffet, but the worst part was the service. Maybe they only try their best with tourists, but with us locals.... Maybe the "captain" should get some training on how to treat customers, not only for not taking the orders accurately and leaving you without any food when all the rest of the table has finished their meal, but also on how approach the customers adequately and not with a "mamaíta" with an excuse instead of an apology. Also they should remember that the fruit juice and the coffee should be offered and served before customers finish eating. So I did not get my order initial order, and had to pay the buffet full price for plate with cold refried beans with sour cream that tasted like white glue. I really hope the Hotel managers read this review re-evaluate this situation. As for me and my family, having so many great options in Guatemala for great food and good service, we will NEVER go back to Pan American.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with family
    • Location
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Helpful?
2 Thank LaTeco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PortaGuatemala, Manager at Pan American Hotel, responded to this review, December 1, 2011
Dear Guest.

I´m extremely sorry for the experience you received while at our property. Be certain this has been corrected so that there is nothing like this happen again. We appreciate your comments and we have surely corrected this. Please visit us again and let us know how this time our staff provides you the service.
My very best regards,
Andreas
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Guatemala City hotels

San Jose, California
Level 6 Contributor
87 reviews
87 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
Reviewed August 24, 2009

Our two night stay at Hotel Pan American in July 2009 ($50/night) was okay, but noisy. I would try someplace different next time I am in Guatemala City. The hotel is old and little seems to have updated but it has plenty of charm and was very clean. Our very large room was located over the kitchen, so it was noisy at breakfast and dinnertime. The bathroom was also large. Pan American is just a few blocks from Parque Central and 6a Avenida.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank AnothersEyes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Antigua, Guatemala
Level 6 Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed May 22, 2009

I have to stick up for the Pan American. I stayed there for 7 or 8 nights in April, scattered over a two-week trip to Guatemala.

First of all, it's located in the heart of the Centrohistorico, in famous Zona Uno. It's one block from the Parque Central, Palacio Nacianal, the Catedral, and many other beautiful, famous old locations.

Zona Uno is aften described at dirty and chaotic--those terms may have applied until recently, but the campaign to beautify the Zone is working wonders. The streets are cleaned daily, buildings are being renovated, and in general the area looks far better than it did when I first sawe it in 2003. OK, it is still a little chaotic--in a vibrant street life kind of way.

The hotel has a beautiful interior, decorated with huipiles from all over Guatemala. It is extremely clean, the staff are attentive and friendly, and the restaurant is famous (and inexpensive, with great regional food and some of the best coffee I've had in Guatemala).

At one point we were traveling to another part of Guatemala and they let us keep all of our suitcases in a back office until we returned. They really went out of their way to make us feel at home.

We like it so much we're going back in August!

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank schilke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
46 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed February 5, 2006

Several decades ago, the Pan-American was reportedly THE upscale hotel in Guatemala City, before the international chains arrived.

Nothing special from the outside, but the interior of the hotel still has loads of character, with traditional weavings and embroidery throughout. The staff were also very friendly.

Unfortunately, the Pan-American is located in an area that is fine by day but deserted and somewhat dangerous at night. Even as a tall young male who's used to traveling in sketchy areas, I didn't feel entirely comfortable leaving the hotel at night except by taxi.

Stayed December 2005
Helpful?
11 Thank stmalone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pan American Hotel

Property: Pan American Hotel
Address: 9A Calle 5-63 | Zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Phone Number:
Location: Guatemala > Guatemala Department > Guatemala City
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Best Value Hotel in Guatemala City
#3 Green Hotel in Guatemala City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Pan American Hotel 2*
Number of rooms: 55
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Also Known As:
Pan American Hotel Guatemala/Guatemala City

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