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“This IS the Place in Panama”

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Hotel Riu Plaza Panama
Ranked #17 of 113 Hotels in Panama City
Certificate of Excellence
Jaco, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
91 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“This IS the Place in Panama”
Reviewed October 3, 2012

Like many of you, I spend a few minutes researching prices and other aspects of my trip before I book anything. After close speculation of several properties I decided on the Hotel RIU for the first night of my first ever trip to Panama City Panama. I ended up staying there for the full 5 days of my trip. If it means anything, while I was there, the Prince and Princess of Spain stayed there for three of my 5 days and Marc Anthony stayed there the night of his performance in Panama City (10/3/12). Now this is a city with a Hardrock Hotel, Trump Hotel and several other large chain hotels....but these people stayed here. Large hotel close to a lot of shopping and casinos. As for the mold reviews....? I didn't notice any of that. If it doesn't smell right when you walk through the front door....turn around. The price here is good. The location is better. Service is great, breakfast is included and I only wish I could have torn it up...what a great breakfast spread...almost American quality. There is much construction in the area and also some renovation going on at the hotel so there might be unexpected noise only during the day. For my first ever visit to Panama, I'm very happy to have stumbled across the Hotel RIU and would stay here again.

Room Tip: Views from all rooms are of the city. The higher up the better. Ask when checking in if there is a...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
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Thank wbailey6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
37 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2012

I see quite a few positive reviews for this hotel, and I will admit, they have a good breakfast and nice decor. However, from the minute you walk through the front door, you are accosted by the smell of mold and mildew. Apparently, not all people can immediately recognize it, but from the reviews you will note that many other people can. If you "Google" The Most Moldy Hotels in Panama, some of the first results include this hotel. For the people who can't smell it, it doesn't mean it's not there. In the US, you are required to certify a mold inspection on the purchase of a house. I am sure that if a similar inspection were conducted at this hotel, it would fail. If you go back a few years in TripAdvisor, you'll note that this has been an ongoing issue. In the US, the employees of the hotel would sue the hotel for health reasons and would win. There's certainly enough documentation to support them. It surprises me that the employees there have not done so. In conversation with them, they all know it. In fact, if you ask for a less moldy floor, they know which one to give you. This is the second time I have stayed here. The first time, I had to move floors due to the mold smell. That was over a year ago. This time, I knew to ask at the front desk before checking in and they gave me a better floor because they knew I would come back down. I couldn't breathe the last time. If for some reason, you have to stay here, the 27th floor is less smelly than most. However, if you don't have to stay here, Don't. I won't do so again. Prolonged exposure to mold and mildew is dangerous to your health. The employees are really nice. The service level is good, and the beds are comfortable. The price is great too, but all that is moot if you end up getting black lung from prolonged exposure. I hope they clean this up, but I'm not even sure if it's possible. In any event, there are a lot of great other hotels in Panama City if you plan on visiting. The Radisson Decapolis, The Veneto, The Crowne Plaza and, The Intercontinental are all very close to this area if proximity is important. They are listed in order lowest price to highest, but all are very reasonable. If you stayed here previously for any extended period of time and have been having breathing problems recently, it might be a good idea to make a doctor's appointment.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
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3 Thank miami33029
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Providenciales
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed October 1, 2012

The entire hotel smells mouldy and like mildew - not nice to breath in. From the minute you enter the lobby is smells, in the hallways and definitely the rooms. I read that it opened Sept 2010 but I have to assume it wasn't new at all, just opened as a RIU. The maid decided to take our non skid mat out of our bathtub and though I tried on 3 occasions to get another one, the closest I came was a bathmat. The smokers are shoved outside on the side bar with the delightful view of the construction site and city noise outside as smoking is not permitted outside at the pool bar? The logic of this? Breakfast is a massive buffet, not my favourite and most of the hot food was cold. Decaf coffee, even though there is a cafe in the lobby with an expresso machine - instant decaf only. I asked Concierge to help me locate a place a specific store - she quoted me $18 by taxi, but didn't indicate that was the price of the hotel taxi. When I tried to take a cab there, none of the hotel ones were available so I took the yellow cab which was there - he quoted me $18. RIP OFF! be warned, taxis in Panama should only be 3-5$/one way - concierge never told me this, so I got royally ripped off both ways. The business centre on the ground floor is $3/30 minutes an the service is slower than a receding iceburg - the internet is terrible + you pay to print anything off. The wi-fi is terrible in the hotel. It keeps dropping off and you keep having to re-enter your user name and password. For what you pay for these rooms, go to the Hard Rock Hotel for the same price - WAY cooler, funkier and just overall better value and NO mildew smell at all. On the positive side - around the corner is a fab restaurant - Luna - well worth dining there.

Room Tip: Book another hotel.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank MarilynCooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santiago
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed September 27, 2012

Great hotel.. recently stayed there, no comparison to another hotel I stayed in a while back in panama, loved the breakfast( it’s just huge) and the showers where nice,
Good location for business,

Overall, I am coming back to this place..

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Morgs_1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
39 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed September 24, 2012

For me, this was a different trip. I have a home in Panama City that has been temporarily rented, so this was my 1st hotel stay in more than 4 years. Not being in my own home already put me in a bit of a "mood", which quickly dissipated once I checked into the RIU. The rooms are clean and spacious and very well maintained. I did notice the musty smell in the hallway when I arrived, but a dehumidifier was place right outside my door (unasked) shortly thereafter.
Housekeeping was spot on, usually making up my room while I was at breakfast. The service here in general is well above the Panamanian norm, from the front desk to housekeeping and everything in-between. BRAVO!!

As other guests have mentioned, Breakfast is OVER-THE-TOP AMAZING..and included in the price of the room. There isn't ANYTHING more you could want. No matter what you are in the mood for, it's there. Fresh and plentiful.

Valet parking is free and very well staffed; even on a busy weekend evening, I never waited more than 5 minutes for my car during my entire stay.

Also worth noting...on my way to breakfast, I accidentally left my wallet out on the nightstand, full of cash. Not aware that I had done so until I returned to a freshly cleaned room, not a dollar was missing from my wallet. On another occasion, I purposely left a gratuity on top of the bed for the maid, which she neatly folded and left on my desk. That would NEVER happen in my hometown, NYC.

My only pet peeve were the prices in the lobby "to-go" cafe. Absolutely ridiculous and I live in NY!!! Cokes for $4.50 and $6 candy bars are insane.

The area is going thru a major upheaval, but it's all part of the many urban renewal projects under way, which in a few years will make this city truly a 1st class destination, Just like the Riu Hotel.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank NYBillyboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, MA
Level Contributor
27 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed September 20, 2012

I was here in July 2012. Panama City is undergoing major urban renewal, with symbols of tremendous wealth and deep poverty interspersed... particularly along Calle 50, where this hotel is located. The building seems somewhat out of place, although the area is changing rapidly. Not that it's a bad area, though - location-wise, it's right in the heart of the city, and you're within about a 20-minute drive of almost anywhere in town. So if you're looking to explore Panama City, you can't go wrong basing yourself at the Riu.

As for the facilities, the hotel is relatively new, and it definitely still has that feel on the inside. The glitzy and spacious lobby gives you the feeling you're in a special place. The pool area in the back is well kept-up and a nice place to go for a dip, get a bite at the bar, or just kick back and take it easy. The buffet breakfast was truly excellent, also - among other things, it featured the best pineapple I've ever had in my entire life, bar none.

The rooms are reasonably sized and reasonably priced. I was in a room with a somewhat awkward design - pretty standard with the bathroom entrance near the room door and then the main room straight ahead, but the catch was that a tall, translucent "window" served as the wall between the bathroom and the main room. I'd never seen that before, and I hope I won't have to see it again anywhere else! Otherwise, no big complaints. The views from almost any room at this hotel are spectacular, no matter which direction you're facing.

I'll be looking to go back to the Riu next time I'm in Panama City, and if you're heading there, I'd say it's more than a safe bet!

Room Tip: Rooms on the south side of this hotel are quieter and have a view of the Pacific Ocean. Rooms on the...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Squeegie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed September 15, 2012 via mobile

The hotel is in the best part of town and the price is accessible ... if you search online you can find a deluxe king room with breakfast included for about 120$ per night. The breakfast buffet is the best i have ever seen in my life.. There's only one problem, as soon as you enter the building there's a distint smell of mold and most of the floors have the same problem. The management was really great and after changing 3 rooms they gave as a free upgrade to the executive suite at no charge... Unfortunately the problem persisted and we checked out. It's really unfortunate for such a beautifull hotel and excellent staff to have to face a problem like this... Maybe this is a common problem in panama city hotels but you dont expect this in a 5 star one.

  • Stayed September 2012
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Ciga22
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

Property: 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
#8 Family Hotel in Panama City
#11 Spa Hotel in Panama City
#14 Luxury Hotel in Panama City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Plaza Panama 4*
Number of rooms: 644
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Plaza Panama Panama City

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