Review: Waldorf Astoria, Panama City #NMCLaborDay
Panama City is a bustling metropolis with at least one of every major chain hotel you can imagine. We had, within a few blocks radius, a Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, and Le Meridien, so really when it came time to book it came down to status and cost.
We’ve had Hilton Gold status now for the better part of the year, and I can honestly say we haven’t taken much advantage of it. Probably because we’ve always noticed the exorbitant amount of points required to stay at home hotels, and that’s turned us off. But when we saw the Waldorf, and knowing that we’ve never stayed at a Waldorf, it caught our eye.
On top of that, it was only $92 a night. In my opinion, $92 for a luxury hotel is pretty amazing.
I couldn’t get the WiFi to work at the airport to call up Uber (it’s pretty ubiquitous in Panama) and so we went with the Authorized Taxi option. At $30 to the city center it wasn’t the cheapest, but it was the fastest and most convenient.
The drive was fast (mostly because the driver was 24, speeding, and dancing to music as we drove) and we got to the hotel in short order. The hotel is new, having been built about 3 years ago, and is owned by the same person as the Hilton and “El Tornillo,” a funky looking modern building downtown. That same modernity can be seen in the lobby of the building.
There is a small public seating area
And to either side a gorgeous design that runs the entire length of the ceiling, from check in counter to the bar at the far end of the lobby.
We went through all the normal formalities of check in, but we were also presented with a local drink, made with lime juice and some kind of sugar syrup. Do you know what is? Tell us below please.! When it’s 91 degrees (33 Celsius) outside, a nice cold refreshing drink is exactly what we needed.
Hector was happy to inform us that as a gold member with Hilton HHonors, we would receive several added bonuses:
- We were upgraded to a Junior Suite
- 1000 bonus points
- 25% extra base points
- Free High Speed WiFi
- 15% discount at the Spa
- Late checkout (if we needed it)
- $25 food and beverage (alcohol excluded)
Not a bad deal, especially considering the room itself was only $92! Now, if you know us, we don’t like going to new countries and eating room service. Usually it’s catered towards Western palates and we like going local. For us, it’s one of the best parts of the experience. However, a $25 F&B credit is hard to pass up, especially for a late night snack.
We headed up to our room and you could see right away that they put a lot of attention to detail.
The room was decorated in various shades of gold
There was a small chair and ottoman off to the side of the bed
And a nice desk area with plenty of space to work and charge devices. For those wondering, the outlets are just as they are in the USA.
The bathroom has two sinks and two robes
A large soaking tub
And a walk-in rainforest shower
Both the shower and the sinks were stocked with Salvatore Ferragamo products (nice touch!)
There was a minibar (careful, $70 for the vodka is a bit much…)
And area with free Nespresso coffee and tea
We also had a special note from the personal concierge for the hotel, informing us that if we needed anything to just dial her and it would be taken care of. The problem? When we did dial that number twice in our stay, it just rang and rang and rang, for over 2 minutes in fact with no one to pick up. I called the front desk and the wait time was over a minute. Even the call to room service took about two minutes to pickup. If I could nag on one part of the stay, the attention to the needs of the guests when they’re calling in would be my one stickler.
Looking out of the room we had a birds eye view of the Jacuzzi on the pool level.
Speaking of the pool, we headed back there after our night out to get a look at the amenities. There is a bar and it is staffed at all times by at least two attendants. They are also able to assist you with chairs, towels, or anything else that you might need during your stay.
It is open air however, so expect it to be quite humid during the day. At night however, a quick dip in the pool is an extremely refreshing way to end the day.
Next to the pool is the gymnasium, which is better than most I’ve seen at other hotels. There are dedicated areas for cardio, free weights, yoga, stretching, and machines. There’s also a small refrigerator with cold towels and drinks to keep you hydrated and cool.
We’ll talk more about our quick city tour of Panama in a later post, but just know that if you want to get from the hotel into downtown, they have a Lincoln MKZ that will take you wherever you need to go within a reasonable distance, free of charge. We took the car from the hotel to the “casco antiguo” or the “old town” for some sightseeing and street food. Asking the driver about his favorite spots to eat was the highlight of the short ride.
As much as I’m not a Hilton fanboy, I would absolutely stay at this hotel again. The service and attention to detail were excellent throughout the hotel, and the fully bilingual staff make it easy for locals and foreigners alike. If you’re in Panama (maybe for a mileage run?) do yourself a favor and choose the Waldorf for an inexpensive taste of luxury!