Panama City  offers good lodging options for almost any budget. But finding an available room has gotten harder and harder in the last several years. The city just doesn’t have enough rooms yet to accommodate the boom in tourism and business.
Developers are scrambling to build major new hotels. Advance reservations are essential, especially for midrange and luxury hotels. Try to book as far ahead of time as possible if visiting during holidays and the dry season. Some travelers have found themselves in the odd position of having to aim for a cheaper hotel than they’d like because the pricier places were packed.
Panama City hotels tend to be terrible about answering email and responding to reservation-request forms on their websites. This is especially but not exclusively true of the lower-end lodgings. If you don’t hear back in a few days, your best bet is to call.
Hotels often charge the same for one or two guests, so those traveling solo can save money by buddying up with fellow travelers. A third or fourth guest often costs just a fraction more, so small groups can get deals even at the higher end of the scale.
The midrange and high-end hotels often offer corporate rates and promotional deals that can be significantly cheaper than their standard rates. It never hurts to ask for the discount, which one can often get without so much as a business card.
The biggest problem with Panama City ’s cheaper hotels, as with those throughout the country, is management’s belief that mattresses last forever. Given that they tend to be poor quality to begin with, it’s not unusual to find thin, squishy, or plank-hard mattresses in otherwise decent-looking hotels. Try the beds in a few rooms before deciding to stay.
Prices quoted in this travel guide are generally for standard rooms. Luxury hotels all have more expensive options for those who can’t burn through their money fast enough. All prices listed include Panama’s 10-percent room tax.