Accommodation / Central and South America

Great Panama City Find for the Budget Conscious

If there’s anything I hate, it’s sticker shock. We ran into a good bit of that while trying to find a hotel for three nights in Panama City prior to our return home after our glorious month in Boquete.

Hotel CentroAmericano, Panama City
Hotel CentroAmericano, Panama City

Then we came across Hotel CentroAmericano. Located near various medical facilities that include the Hospital del Ninos, Hospital Santa Tomas and the University of Panama School of Medicine, this small, comfortable, pet-friendly hotel satisfied our needs for $70.00 per night.

It met all my basic criteria for a decent place to stay:

  • The room, lobby and public bathroom were clean.
  • The bed was comfortable.
  • The shower worked, and there was hot water.
  • There was reliable WIFI.
  • The air conditioning was quiet, and it worked like a charm.

It had little niceties that I consider to be non-essential, but do make a hotel stay more like a frosted cake than a sugar cookie.

Hotel CentroAmericano - standard room
Hotel CentroAmericano – standard room
  • There was  a coffee pot and hair dryer in the room
  • There was a refrigerator in the room
  • The full breakfast included in the price was hot, tasty and substantial
  • The layout of the lobby was easy to navigate with my guide dog.
  • The soap smelled nice, and there was shampoo.
  • The hotel has airport transfer available to Toucaman for $25 per couple – not unreasonable considering the distance and the need to use a toll road for part of the journey.

Minor downsides:

  • The staff didn’t speak much English, but Panama is a Spanish-speaking country, after all, and it was up to me to make the effort to make myself understood.
  • The nearest appropriate area for relieving my dog required crossing a busy street in a pedestrian-unfriendly city.
  • It was necessary to engage in a discussion regarding guide dog access in the restaurant, but it was resolved without unpleasantness.
  • The area is less than scenic and not necessarily conveniently located, but it is safe and there is public transportation. Also, cabs are comparatively reasonable.

After a seven-and-a-half-hour bus ride from David, we were not in the mood to go out in search of dinner, so we opted to try the hotel’s restaurant.

Simon had the Creole Shrimp, which was served in a delicately seasoned tomato-based sauce. The shrimp were on the small side, but were cooked to perfection. I had the Garlic Corvena Fillet, which was also perfectly cooked, and had been rolled in chopped garlic immediately after it was cooked. They definitely know how to prepare fish and seafood in Panama!

Both offerings came with a small, fresh salad, and our side selection of patacones was some of the best we had had in Panama. Simon had a beer, and I had water. The price for this abundant and palate-pleasing meal came to a total of $18.00.

Breakfast offered a variety of items, including pancakes, fried eggs and bacon and liver and onions. We had the scrambled eggs with vegetables with a side of tortilla. These are not the flat, round all-purpose wrappers to which Americans have become accustomed. They  are corn cakes that are fried to a crunchy crispness, with a tender interior.

Breakfast was served with fresh fruit salad, orange juice and a choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

Simon had coffee, and pronounced it very good. I couldn’t resist trying the chocolate, and was not disappointed. This treat was served in a cup and saucer, just like the coffee. It was not overly sweet, with a richness of texture and flavor that definitely didn’t come out of a paper envelope.

If clean, comfortable and reasonable pricing are more important to you than fancy, I highly recommend Hotel CentroAmericano for your next stay in Panama City.

Hotel Centroamericano, Avenida Ecuador y Justo Arosemena – Ciudad de Panamá. Telephone: (507) 227-4555


  • Panama City on a Budget – Six Legs Will Travel

    Jan 27, 2017


    […] on the right foot, you need to have spent a comfortable night, followed by a substantial breakfast. Hotel CentroAmericano will meet these needs and more for around $70 per night, double occupancy, including breakfast for […]

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    Apr 24, 2014


    I'm working on an article about a budget-friendly day in Panama City. It will start with the hotel and go from there. I'm still not sure if I'll post it to the blog, or try to sell it. Either way, there will be some fun things for you to do when you get there.

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    Apr 24, 2014


    Hi Penny, Thanks for the review of the Hotel CentroAmericano. I'm hoping to go to Panama soon so I'll be looking for some good places to stay. I'm with you on the sticker shock. I don't really need a $300/night hotel room just to sleep in!

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