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!
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- The Balboa Hotel Panama City
- The Balboa Inn Panama/Panama City