Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for celebrating the senses in Panama City, Panama.
When was the last time that you truly spoiled all your senses?
Often when choosing a holiday destination and hotel, we think about what we are going to see and what the hotel itself looks like. But what about your other four senses? Don’t they deserve a great holiday too?
When deciding where to stay in Panama City, Darrell and I wanted to go all out. After all, it was the last stop of our eventful 9 week backpacking trip of Central America!
After a quick online browsing session, I had my heart set on staying at the Tantalo. A restaurant, roof top bar and hotel, Tantalo is not only visually appealing with its unique and artistic decor but also boosted a program to stimulate guests’ other senses.
And did it live up to the hype? You bet!
This hotel is cooler than I could ever dream of being. Like the perfect cocktail, Tantalo has all the right ingredients to create a trendy and fun place to sleep, eat, drink and hang out in Panama City. Even if you don’t end up staying in one of their colorful rooms, you should definitely stop in to enjoy the restaurant, roof top bar and city views.
Located in the historic area of Casco Viejo, Tantalo is a three story colonial building transformed into a modern attraction. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has enough to keep you busy for days. The charming streets are full of monuments, churches, restaurants and cafes. Almost every corner and plaza is “Instagram-worthy” and will have you cooing over its beauty (okay maybe that’s just me!).
After having traveled for so long, I was starting to worry that I had travel fatigue. It felt like I no longer appreciated the opportunity to play tourist. Well Casco Viejo changed that for me! Each day I was thrilled to head out with a map in hand, winding up each and every street to tick off all the attractions in the area. Tantalo provides a map upon check in and it has all the information you need to explore the area. Our favorite stop was at the Coca-Cola cafe, one of the oldest diners in Panama City and was visited by Che Guevara.
If this artwork doesn’t tempt you to wander in, then the smell of the food definitely will. The Tantalo Kitchen is situated street-level and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails. Darrell and I had our breakfast here each day. The breakfast menu is very reasonably priced with dishes starting from USD $4. On our first morning, we both had the Omelet Calle which comes with toast and potatoes. Savored along with our coffee choices of an Americano and Soy Latte, we were in heaven. We loved the Omelet Calle so much that we had it two days in a row – it’s that good! Consider your taste buds and nose appeased.
Looking for a place to relax with a drink after your big day of sightseeing? Come by the Tantalo rooftop for the drinks and stay for the city views and fun atmosphere. The bar has a range of signature cocktails with food service available here too. We stayed at Tantalo on a Monday and Tuesday night in June (which is considered the off season) and can attest to the fact that the rooftop bar was still pumping up until midnight. On the weekends the bar is open to the early hours, with the possibility of a little salsa and live music. A treat for the ears.
All the rooms at Tantalo are individually created so you can choose the space that suits your personality. I am a pretty outgoing and confident person therefore was thrilled to be staying in a room that was equally as bold and vibrant in decor. The Tropi Extotica room was designed by artist “Yanneth Albornoz” and features a large Bengal Tiger mural next to the bed.
Each room includes a well stocked mini bar, safe, luggage rack, hair dryer, iron and iron board (which I appreciated as my dress has become all wrinkled during our transit). The room we stayed in was a Grande, which comes with a luxurious king sized bed and soft linen. It feels so good on your skin that you will be looking forward to bed time!
Other amenities for Grande rooms include bluetooth speakers and a private terrace overlooking the beautiful Casco Viejo. Our walk-in shower was the most unique I have experienced while staying in a hotel. The floor was raised above the bathroom tiles with floating bamboo slates. It is such a nice feeling not to have water pooling at your feet or be standing on cold tiles. A luxurious experience for your sense of touch.
A trip to Panama City would not be complete without a visit to the Panama Canal. If you are a little rusty on your history – don’t worry! There is a three story, interactive museum waiting inside to catch you up with the past century of events. In fact the Panama Canal recently celebrated its 100th year in 2014 and just two days before we visited, opened a new expansion.
Ships pass through the Panama Canal, working their way through a series of three “locks” to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific side (or vice versa). There are usually over 35 ships per day so it is highly likely that you will see at least one during your visit. Unlucky for us, we happened to arrive on a day where there were no ships scheduled that afternoon.
Once we arrived back at the Tantalo and told the concierge, César that we had not seen a ship pass through, he contacted the Panama Canal to find out their ship schedule for the next day. Sure enough, Darrell went back and was able to see not just one, but three ships passing through the lock. Thanks to the help of the Tantalo staff, Darrell could achieve his dream of seeing this incredible sight.
Getting to Casco Viejo, Panama
Panama City is an international hub with a modern airport, serviced by most major airlines. To get to and from the airport to Casco Viejo, you could take a taxi or travel by public transport. The closest bus station is within walking distance and connects with the railway stop of Albrook Station. From there, you can take the train to 5 de Mayo Station and walk 15-20 minutes to the Tantalo hotel.
We traveled to Panama City from Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro via an overnight bus. The bus left around 6pm from Almirante, on the mainland next to the islands of Bocas. You can travel to the station from Isla Colon by boat and then taxi. The overnight bus is advertised to arrive in Panama City at around 5am, however ours pulled into the station at 2am. I have also heard similar stories from people who caught the bus from Boquete. If you do decide to travel to Panama City by bus, make sure to keep this in mind and organize an extra nights’ accommodation if required.
Taxis are lined up at the front of Albrook bus station or you can travel metro train to Casco Viejo.
Tantalo, Panama City
Tantalo is a boutique hotel, rooftop bar and kitchen located in Panama City. Guests can choose from ten individually designed rooms. For details and pricing, check out Hotel.
Location: Calle 8 Este con Avenida B, Casco Viejo, Panama
Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Tantalo, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.
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