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“No Frills but Decent Value”
Review of Hotel California

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Hotel California
Ranked #82 of 116 Hotels in Panama City
Reviewed March 21, 2009

Finding a decent value among Panama City hotels is a surprisingly difficult proposition. According to the Aeroperlas (Panama's regional airline) in-flight magazine, the city has the second highest hotel occupancy rate in the world. Keeping this fact in mind, Hotel California is sound option for travelers looking for a single room in Panama's capital city.

The rooms are small, basic, and thoroughly uninspiring. The neighborhood is safe, but slightly off-putting. The staff is not the most hospitable in the country. Nonetheless at around $40 per night, it's not a bad deal in a city where finding midrange value options for hotels is a real challenge.

Our room was clean, the AC and TV worked, and a hailing a cab outside the hotel was very easy. If you are looking simply for a place to rest your head while in the City or simply need a safe, quiet place to sleep before moving on beyond the capital - Hotel California has a lot to offer.

If you are planning to spend a lot of time in your hotel room while in Panama City - and you have the means to do so - you may want to consider some higher end lodging options.

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank TravelingButler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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32 - 38 of 92 reviews

Reviewed November 7, 2008

Decent Bargain, but know what you are getting...

Usually this hotel is full stop by to see if they have space. If you make a reservation (all in Spanish mind you), call to confirm that day that they didnt' give your room away to a walk in.

Small, clean, cold air conditioning, hot water, and cheap cheap cheap! In a good safe area of PC too.

There are rumors of some seedy activities going on here but as a young single woman staying by myself I never had a problem.

Stayed: August 2008
Thank ilovereb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2008

If you can get a room on the 3rd or higher floor Hotel CA is a fantastic bargain, however you MUST be in a back room. If you have a room in the front or even the sides of the building, traffiic will wake you up at 0530 every business day. There is a school on the right side oif the buliding. It is also noisy. Maybe you think you're a sound sleeper and the traffic won't bother you-WRONG! Panamanians love to use their horns constantly and when the bus drivers do, it will wake you. Did I mention the horns are constant? Usually to get a back room you have to be there a day or two and move when one comes open. Avoid floors 1 and 2 becuase the windows are the old fasioned louvered frosted glass (horizontal glass slats) that do not seal closed so that hot air enters and so does noise. And when they are closed you have no view. You probably won't want to open them due to the heat and lack of screens.

SAFETY: I lived in Panama for 14 months. I never had any problems. I believe the Hotel CA is in a reasonably safe area. At times I was out walking alone at 0200, 0400, and 0530 as well as many times late at night near midnight. Even if you stayed at the expensive hotels I don't think those areas are any safer. I always carried OC (pepper spray) and an expandable baton. You can get them from police supply catalogs/stores or military surplus stores.

Please tip the maids well. They all work very hard and are paid little. Say hello to Estela for me. She always took good care of me and even let me borrow her cooler. At the front desk: Yes, Oneiva is always friendly. Serie is also friendly if you aren't rude to her. The handyman, I'm sorry I can't think of his name, was always helpful and hardworking. Please give him a good tip.

I was working as an airplane pilot based out of Gelabert at the time I stayed here. I was permitted to leave some of my luggage in a locked area of the basement. When I returned from one trip I found out that my carry on bag was stolen. I asked what the owners would do about it and was told I was no longer permitted to keep my excess luggage there! I was not paid any compensation. This didn't really surprise me. I had always found the two brothers that owned the place to be unfriendly and not helpful in any way.

There is a grocerystore/cafeteria/sandwich-ice cream store within easy walking distance. There are 3 laundramats within 2 blocks. There is an excellent cafeteria nearby that has low prices for Panamanian business people. It is ordinary Panamanian food that any picky American would enjoy. Take a left out the front door. Walk past the closed theater. Cross the busy street. Walk one block. You will pass 3 chinese laundramats, at least one cafeteria and one small chinese owned store. Turn left. Walk 5-10m. Cross the street. You're there. It is open on business days only for breakfast and lunch. It is much, much better food than at the hotel and as good as anywhere.

The hotel claims to have a pool. This is an unheated jacuzzi.

MUST DO!: Day 1 in Panama(or before)-Call the Mire Flores restaurant and reserve a table overlooking the Panama Canal for dinner. Semi formal attire recommended. Tell them you want a table next to the railing. Food C+ to B+. View AAA+++ Our magnificent canal (that the peanut brain prez gave to a dictator) . Make sure you arrive after dark. It will still be hot with 99% humidity.

Floors 3 or higher, in the BACK are an excellent deal, otherwise avoid if you want to sleep past 0530. The back rooms are also larger. I lived in Panama 14 months. I was comfortable in the Hotel CA and saved big bucks staying there. The hotel CA is a better deal than most of the others in that price range.

Stayed: July 2007
6  Thank skycowboy85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2008

I have just returned home after a pleasant stay at the hotel. I found the hotel to be comfortable and quiet and most of the staff were friendly and helpful.

However, I do have one significant complaint...

When it was time for me to leave I asked the receptionist about taxis to the airport. I had 2 numbers for taxis but she assured me that it would be better if she arranged it. When the taxi came she got in it, taking the front seat, which had the only safety belt. I assumed that she was being dropped off nearby, and while it was odd and maybe a little rude that she hadn't explained or asked if I minded, I wasn't too bothered at first. After more than 5 minutes I asked where she was going. She surprised me by telling me that she would be in the car for the entire duration of the trip as she lived near the airport. I have lived in Central America for a year now and am well aware of the taxi system and the arrangement for shared taxis (shared taxi = shared cost). I asked if she would be splitting the cost of the taxi. "No" was the reply. When we arrived I explained that I understood the shared taxi system and that I thought it was unfair that she wasn't prepared to pay anything towards the cost. She would not admit that it was unusual or that she was, in fact, using me to get a free ride home. She kept trying to tell me that the system was that I paid for the airport transfer and she would pay from the airport to her home. I know that this is not what happens, but she treated me like I was an idiot who didn't understand the system. I also tried to make my point to the taxi driver, but as my spanish is limitied that was harder. I paid the money, in full, but I am very angry about this.

I wonder how many other guests have been tricked in this manner. The worst part was that I wasn't consulted in any way about the trip and felt like I was being treated like a fool. Let me remind you that this woman persuaded me to let her organise my taxi, when I had 2 numbers already - both at the same cost and in cars that had safety belts in the back. She tricked me into allowing her to organise a guy who is clearly a friend of hers, whose car was less secure. I made a big mistake in trusting this woman and I am sure that this is not the first time she has pulled this trick. The thing is that is she had asked me striaght up, rather than trying to trick me, I would probably have agreed to give her a lift.

Because of this incident, I would now NOT feel comfortable to recommend Hotel California to anyone without warning them of this trick.

The hotel itself is fine, it is quiet and well located. Almost all of the staff are friendly and helpful, the restaurant provides decent food at good value, but do beware when it is time for your taxi to the airport.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3  Thank Jamanga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2008

This hotel is a great deal for Panama City and is in a central location. It is always easy to catch a cab right outside (even at 5am) and everyone who works there speaks English and is very kind. However, you are located right by a busy thoroughfare and we were woken up early most mornings by the traffic. You can try asking for a quiet room but what the staff thinks is quiet might not be the same as what you think is quiet. Also, make sure everything functions in your room - our AC had only two settings (off or full blast) - before settling in.

Stayed: March 2008
Thank bright14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2008

Hotel California is centrally located, on Via Espana, if you like to go shopping at the in-city malls, you could take a taxi for only
$ 1.25. The hotel is very clean, the staff very helpful, speak english & the bartenders and waitresses (all female) at the bar-restaurant are really nice. The food was presentable, tasty and abundant. My daughter and I ordered the chicken salad and we could only complete half of the dish. Service is relatively speedy and its interior design was pretty colorful & well kept.
The rooms were small but decent for the budget, change of the linen daily, a/c, cold & hot water--all functional.
I recommend it very much and if you need a tour guide contact Eliana at: elianacollado20@yahoo.com, very pleasant and decent person.

12  Thank Varina M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 27, 2016
Google Translation

  • Stayed: November 2015, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank javier c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel California

Address: Via Espana & Calle 43, Panama City, Panama
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #82 of 116 Hotels in Panama City
Price Range: $27 - $38 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 60
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
California Hotel Panama City
Hotel California Panama/Panama City

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