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“great choice, and good prices”

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Hotel Riu Plaza Panama
Ranked #20 of 115 Hotels in Panama City
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 3, 2012

Good centeral location, great service, great price, nice pool and gym. Internet was not that good, but that is expected. it is in a busy street, but it is Panama city and Cabs are very cheap. I enjoyed this hotel

Room Tip: they have especials, check for them
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  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with friends
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Thank BobbyPtravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 2, 2012

Well, I thought I wouldn't stay in another hotel after my first visit to Panama City, but I decided to see how the Riu Plaza was. I wasn't disappointed. It's in the heart of the business district and well within walking distance to restaurants, a casino and Catholic Church.

The hotel (I was told) is a little over a year old. It's spacious and beautiful. The room was nice and we had a nice view (can see the ocean beyond the buildings behind the hotel. We used the gym (free for guests) a few times and also the steam bath they have (also free).

We didn't get around to the swimming pool this trip, but it was nice.

The best feature of the hotel is the free breakfast buffet which was massive! That really helps a lot to start the day and save money.

The staff were very friendly and helpful. I practiced my limited Spanish with Jose at the bar. He was very nice.

We ate at various restaurants in the area--all within walking distance. We attended mass at the Church of Out Lady of Carmen which is about a 10 minute walk to the Bella Vista neighborhood. It's a beautiful gothic-style church worth taking a look at or visiting if you want to attend a Catholic mass.

I would stay at the Riu again. I highly recommend it.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank Milauskas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2011

We stayed one night in Panama on our way back from a Costa Rican vacay so we wanted to stay somewhere in the downtown area that was close to the key points of interest like Casco Viejo and the Panama Canal, but still comfortable. Well, we certainly were not disappointed with Hotel Riu which is an absolutely beautiful hotel in so many ways. The rooms are spacious, comfortable and well-equipped, with a super-comfortable bed, a sitting area where we were able to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the city and a large flat-screen tv. The staff were very friendly, even when we were bugging them late that night when our wifi connection was giving trouble. They even directed us towards some excellent places for dinner in the Casco Viejo area.
The hotel's decor is very abstract/modern and it even felt as though we were inside an artist's brain. The included hot and cold buffet breakfast was to die for!! Not only was the selection and variety impressive, but the food itself was delicious! I hadn't seen that much of a selection at a hotel in so long that I think I was at first overwhelmed.
Since we were in Panama for just a few hours (our flight was at 12noon the following day), we wanted to at least get a glimpse of the Panama Canal, and the hotel staff very easily facilitated this request by organizing a taxi driver/tour guide to take us on a brief tour around Panama City and to the Canal, which was a real treat! We even got to see a few boats going through the Canal and were blown away by the sheer manificence of it all. Hotel Riu certainly made our short-trip to Panama very worthwhile, and for sure we will be back again!

Room Tip: Higher floor with a better view of the city
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  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Zelillem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2011

We stayed twice at this hotel, in July and in December, as the price was attractive. There is still a new building smell (concrete and what not) floating in the halls and the roms. Otherwise the rooms are nicely equipped. The bathtub was bizarrely designed (you have to get in the tub to turn it on). Free (or included should I say) wifi and breakfast. The breakfast offered many choices but the quality of the food was a 5.5/10.
All in all, good quality/price ratio.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank PatrickBarbary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 11, 2011

The hotel is very new, clean and nicely appointed with modern decor.

The positives:
- Clean. Good daily maid service.
- Most employees speak enough English to get by.
- Good A/C - it can get cold at night, but you can always adjust the thermostat in your room.
- Large rooms with good selection of television channels (you'll have to watch sports in Spanish, save the NFL Network).
- The poolside restaurant is very nice, good food.
- The breakfast is plentiful and offers many different options. The best part was the fresh fruit bar.
- Laundry service was efficient (same day if out before 10AM) and cleaned clothing appropriately.
- Security was not an issue, the elevator to the guest rooms requires a room key to access. And there was a prevalent presence of security on the weekends. Also, if you had guest visiting you, you mus register them at the front desk and pay for them to be allowed to your room. The in-room safe is an additional security feature that definitely came in handy.

Negatives:
- I found the bed to be hard and uncomfortable. This may not be the case for all, just my impression.
- The sushi restaurant in the hotel had the worst service in the hotel. The wait staff had very limited English skills. The ambience was very disco-esque, loud music, modern chairs (i.e. uncomfortable) and limited service. The sushi was only so-so, with most of it tasting rather "fishy" (as in the fish was probably a few days old when served).
- The hotel hosts many company parties and other events, so don't be surprised to find numerous people in the hotel on the weekends that are not staying there. Sometimes, these parties can affect public spaces (pool, breakfast restaurant). There was no notice to guests that these areas would be off limits until the day of the event and a sign posted said "the pool area is closed for a private event."
- Don't plan on charging your cell phone or computer if you're out of the room. The electricity is controlled by a key card. It is easy enough to slip in another credit card sized object, but only after maid service. Due to this, the TV had to be cycled on and off once to bypass the initial setup menu as the remote did not allow control of the TV's menus.
- The furniture in the room was modern and not very comfortable. It was not friendly to a business traveller as there was not a business chair and the table tops were glass.
- The location is not that great for some of Panama City's bright spots, Casco Viejo, the causeway and shopping are not very close (Multi Plaza and Multi Centro are fairly close). Via Espana is about 15 minutes walking and Via Veneto is another 10 after that (approximately). There are not many restaurants close, so eating in the restaurant is usually the best option if you don't want to go far (KFC/Pizza hut is right next door if that's your fancy).

Overall:

If I was travelling on vacation and more fluent in Spanish it would not be so bad. The taxis in Panama are not controlled and thus, each interaction with a taxi driver can yield a different price. You must haggle over the destination (with many drivers simply driving off if they do not want to go to your destination) and confirm the price. Prices to Via Espana, Via Veneto (from the Riu) etc SHOULD be around $2-$3 depending on if there are more passengers. Don't be surprised if "turista" is used and you get charged an extra $1. To hail a taxi you must hold your hand out low and towards the street, do not be surprised if many empty taxis pass you while doing this, just keep trying and eventually you'll find one.

Also, at restaurants, do not expect great (if any) service unless you adamantly demand it. This includes water refills, questions and getting the check ("La cuenta, por favor" is necessary). Usually a 10% tip is included in the bill, so be sure to check for "propina" on the receipt before filling in the tip line or leaving extra cash.

When walking on the streets you need to be aware of several potential dangers. 1) is the sidewalk itself, often times utility covers, man hole covers and drainage grates are either missing or of poor construction. 2) The traffic does not care if you are walking. You must be vigilant and swift when crossing any streets. 3) There can be a lot of people on the side walks and they are often narrow, just be sure to be aware to avoid being mugged or other sorts of violence. (This does not mean Panama is a violent country (I had no issues) it does mean, as with any other city, you must be aware of your surroundings. 4) Be aware of the often noisy and smelly "Diablos Rojos" while the cost of these is low, it is confusing to determine the destination and they are often unfriendly to tourists. Also, they are the number one cause of traffic accidents in Panama and are even more ignorant of pedestrians than normal traffic.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled on business
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5  Thank EZHarris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2011

The hotel Riu Plaza in Panama city, Panama, its a fair new hotel, the lobby is very spaceous and modern, check in procedures are US stnadards, very staright forward.
The rooms are comfortable, free Wifi in rooms and Lobby area, with a password given at check in.Aminities in the rooms are bar, coffee machine, payperview movies and Directv cable., Fat screen TV. Now the color off the rooms, depending in which floor you are, are not the usual color tones one is acoutom. For example floor 19 is color green lime, there are floors in purple, blue, pink etc, not only the room is in that color but everything, pillowa, drapes, wallpaper etc.
Now there is a full breakfast buffet, included with the price, very well stock, from cold cuts, different cheese, fruits, breads, hot kitchen, mexican, eggs any way you wanted, fresh squeezed juice, the coffee is very good.
If for some reason you did not make breakfast they have a coffee shop with self service salads, sandiwich, paistries, open till late.
Other than that they have an other a la carte restaurant, pool restaurant.
My only warning remark is, the hotel collapses if there is a big group like a cruise ship staying at the property, they do not have cargo elevators, guest and personal use the same elevators, there are 8 elevators which 4 go from certain floors and the 4 to other floors. At my last stay there was a Royal Carrabean cruise, living the same day as I did, laggage was pile up at the elevator corridor, I myself waited for hour and half as everytime the elavator came was full with luggage, they don;t have internal phones in the halways, so if you live exactly at noon as I did, you get lock out off your room and no way how too comunicate and ask for help, that is my only remark, other than that the staff is very nice, the hotel is clean, and well kept.

Room Tip: Try not facing the pool, other wise you will be part off the event till early monrning.
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Traveler1472
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2011

This is almost a new hotel. It has a huge Lobby . The rooms are ok, very clean. It is well located. They do not charge you for the mini bar. It has amazing views, an incredible breakfast.
The only "but" for me was that they don't prepare the room in the night. In general it is a very good place to stay

Room Tip: Select the higher floors. There are a lot of parties, weddings, convention. Yo dont hear the noise...
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Cecilia D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Plaza Panama

Address: Calle 50 con 53 este | Urb. Marbella, Panama City, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Business Hotel in Panama City
#7 Family Hotel in Panama City
#10 Spa Hotel in Panama City
#16 Luxury Hotel in Panama City
Price Range: $93 - $142 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Plaza Panama 4*
Number of rooms: 644
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Plaza Panama Panama City

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