Wow, Fabulous, Spectacular, Fabulous, Fantastic and Marvellous. For the unacquainted, these are the names of the W Panama’s gorgeous rooms and suites, not gushing tributes. Central America’s first W hotel is however worthy of praise. As may be expected from the brand, this Panama City outpost is achingly hip and modern with 5-star service from start to finish.
Why W Panama?
If you’re looking for a hotel in Panama City, the W is the sceney one; so sleek even Don Draper couldn’t turn up his nose at it. It offers prime access to the city’s business district being located on bustling Calle 50.
Panama’s capital is blessed with year-round warm weather making poolside lounging practically obligatory. Good things there’s the Wet Deck on the 15th floor. It offers incredible city views and private cabanas and has since become one of the most elegant rooftop pools in the city.
Among the hotel’s amenities are the AWAY spa, two restaurants, eight sunlit meeting rooms, four bars and the sky-high FIT fitness centre. Let’s face it, hitting the gym is that much sweeter when towering views of Panama Bay and the canal are on the cards. There are little touches too like the talking foot mats in the elevators – depending on when you step in they greet you with “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening”.
Of all the reasons to stay at W Panama? Parties. There are legendary shindigs by the pool and W Panama is one of the prime locations for Panama Pride events. Ask an energetic host or a W Insider to connect you to the pulse of the city.
The hotel draws on the Isthmus of Panama for design inspiration. The integration of local aspects is intricate and calculated; most of the furniture is sourced from Panamanian craftsmen (and women) and the chandeliers are impeccably styled bamboo fishing baskets. At the ground floor entrance, a wall of 70 Panama hats greets guests. Ascending to the 15th floor where the welcome area and signature W Living Room are situated will reveal expressive murals and an industrial look.
Lounge areas are awash with Panama Canal paraphernalia including shipping containers reimagined as bars. There’s one on the 6,835-square-foot pool deck and another in the lobby. The containers are bedecked with graffiti in the style of Panama’s diablos rojos school buses which sped perilously through Panama City’s streets growling and blasting reggaeton music for all to hear.
Rooms have white-washed walls with colourful accents – effervescent yellow doors and cushions made of bright Mola fabrics native to the indigenous Kuna tribe. Indigenous patterns and art are showcased throughout including on the large iconic “W” sign in front of the building.
W hotel’s internal design team collaborated with Studio Gaia for the sleek and chic décor. The international interior design firm was also responsible for W Bogota, for which it received many a design award.
W Panama’s rooms
There are 203 spacious rooms and suites to make yourself at home in. Beds are immaculately dressed in Egyptian cotton and there are floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the famed city skyline.
Each room is equipped with a flat-screen TV, high-speed WiFi, seats, robes, a Nespresso machine and complimentary tea and water bottles. Fabulous rooms have balconies and the E-wow suite is the most lavish with its own DJ booth, foosball table, lit vanity and expansive rainfall shower.
The stuffy mini bar seen in most hotels is replaced with a classy display W Mixbar where one can shake up their own cocktail or have a hot brew in W branded cups. As a tea-obsessed Brit, the Mixbar was my first port of call. Sipping my (complimentary) English breakfast on the cosy queen bed, I realized that the only audible sounds were my own contentedness. Despite the location on busy Calle 50 in the financial district, noise levels are low.
On-site gourmet restaurant Moró is a treat for the senses. As quality food cannot be cooked from sub-par products, ingredients are sourced fresh from local farmers and from Panama’s two expanses of water.
For this staycation at W Panama, I preferred the luxury of not having to choose what to eat so I requested surprises all round during dinner. We were taken care of by the delightful Gabriel who indulged us and catered to our every whim. To kicks things off: a melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef Carpaccio followed by a saffron and coconut guacho with octopus ushered in from the caribe. My dining companion was treated to a bespoke off-the-menu item which didn’t disappoint. The crescendo was a trio of decorative mini desserts of the chocolate, fruit and pudding variety. With each course we were visited by the chef who explained the history, produce provenance and attention to detailed poured into each dish. If that isn’t great service, what is?
The dining experience at Moró includes serenades of tranquil background sounds from the likes of FKJ and surf rock stalwarts Real Estate.
In the mornings there’s a hearty continental breakfast buffet with all the expected bells and whistles: fresh juices, made-to-order eggs, tropical fruits and fresh bread. Should you wish for even more breakfast fare, there’s PAUL patisserie downstairs.
Nearby activities and attractions
W Panama is located in the 50-storey Evolution Tower in Panamá’s business district surrounded by one glittering skyscraper after another. It’s on Calle 50 near Plaza Nueva York, the stores of Via España and an 8-minute drive from Cinta Costera, Panama’s prized waterside walkway and park. Depending on traffic, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Casco Viejo is 15 minutes away by taxi. Casco is the second most visited landmark in Panama after the canal.
Also in the area are remote working spaces Regus and Spaces and notable restaurants for culinary adventures. Travel to Brazil by way of Os Segredos da Carne, to Lebanon at Beirut or visit India via Sabor de la India.
W Panama has the “it factor” and lacks for nothing. Come for the style and stay for the party.
Prices start at USD 127 plus taxes for a standard Wonderful room. Book your stay here now.
Rosie Bell is an international travel writer, author of the book “Escape To Self”, and content editor for Club Elsewhere. Follow her on Instagram @TheBeachBell.