Perhaps you’ve booked a cruise that starts or ends in Panama City?

Maybe you’ll be “un-cruising” on one of UnCruise Adventures’ new “Pure Panama” expedition cruises (think snorkeling and jungle hikes). Or you’re going to transit the Panama Canal then explore the coasts of Peru and Chile in unabashed luxury on Crystal Cruises.

The author taking photos at dusk while cruising through the Panama Canal (Credit: George Mucalov)

Guests watch the the scenery as they cruise by the huge cranes and containers at the entrance to the Panama Canal (Credit: George Mucalov)

Well, you’ll need a place to stay in Panama City before and/or after your cruise.

Affordable luxury at the Grace Panama

My husband George and I picked the Grace Panama. (Okay, I picked it and George, like the really nice husband he is, went along with my decision.) But that’s not the point… It’s this.

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Lobby bar — good place to sip your bubbly! (Credit: Grace Panama)

Some cruise lines use the Bristol Hotel, one of the city’s original luxury hotels. And the Bristol does look lovely (we enjoyed morning coffee and cookies there after disembarking from our Safari Voyager cruise ship in Panama City). From what we saw of the Bristol, we’d say it is quietly elegant, with somewhat of a traditional feel – think oriental carpets in the lobby and big vases of fragrant-smelling flowers.

Rates, however, are considerably more at the Bristol Hotel than at the Grace Panama. And the Grace Panama, rated Number 1 on TripAdvisor, is also a five-star hotel.

Many visitors like to stay in Casco Viejo, Panama City’s historic old quarter. UNESCO-protected, it’s a wonderfully atmospheric district with old colonial houses (in various states of repair and disrepair), outdoor cafés in leafy squares, shops and boutiques, churches and hip bars and restaurants. We peeked into the new, all-white Central Hotel – it boasts a great location right in the middle of Casco Viejo (guess that’s why it’s called the “central” hotel). And the beautifully appointed American Trade Hotel gets rave reviews.

But again… Both, particularly the American Trade Hotel, are more expensive than the Grace Panama.

Why would we pay more for five-star luxury if we didn’t have to? The Grace Panama ticked off most boxes for a luxury hotel stay in Panama City.

At the Grace Panama, it was just a $4 or $5 cab ride (maybe 10 minutes at most) to get to Casco Viejo. We were treated to complimentary bubbly upon check-in (and pretty well whenever we re-entered the hotel). Our room was stylishly decorated and the bed extremely comfortable – and we got to lather up with Salvatore Ferragamo bath products too. The staff were extremely hospitable also.

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Guest room (Credit: Grace Panama)

Husbands and wives don’t always agree. But we were in agreement on this – the Grace Panama is a smart five-star hotel pick for a pre- or post-cruise stay in Panama City.

Skyline of Panama City

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?

  • The price point makes the Grace Panama especially attractive for mature travelers who don’t want to blow their travel budget on one annual holiday (but who want to spread their travel dollars around on several trips each year).
  • The hotel is in a very safe location of Panama City.
  • The hotel is quiet, rooms are sound-proof and you’ll sleep well!
  • Many other mature travelers who start or end a cruise in Panama City book the Grace Panama for a pre- or post-cruise stay. We saw couples with Crystal Cruises’ luggage tags on their suitcases checking into the Grace. (Note: Younger and hip couples also like to stay at the hotel too – but they’re more into just being a couple than partying.)

Take note

  • There’s no shade by the outdoor pool, so you’ll likely find it too hot to sit or relax there.


Be sure to get the whole scoop on the Grace Panama on Sand In My Suitcase!

Why Stay at the Grace Panama? How About Bubbly and Boutique Style?


The author received a discounted media rate at the Grace Panama.

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