Hotel Toledo (Avenida 9 de Enero/1 Este between Calle D Norte and Calle E Norte, tel. 774-6732, 774-6733, 775-0694, or 775-2446, starts at US$25 s, US$27.50 d) has 39 old but well-maintained rooms, some with good beds. Try the mattresses in several rooms. All rooms have air-conditioning, a phone, and cable TV. There’s a restaurant/bar attached.
The Hotel Iris (Calle A Norte between Avenida Bolívar/3 Este and Avenida 3 de Noviembre/4 Este, tel. 775-2251, hotel_irispanama [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$20 s/d with fan, US$30 with air-conditioning) was renovated a few years back and now has decent rooms with okay beds, telephones, and slightly grungy but passable bathrooms. The best thing about it is its location right on Parque Cervantes , with balconies from which to people-watch. Rooms 223, 245, 346, and 266 overlook the park, but they’re also likely to be the loudest rooms in the place.
Since the balcony is shared and the bar/restaurant also has a balcony, it might be better to go for a room at the back of the hotel and sit outside when the spirit moves you. Rooms are fairly small, but there are bigger ones for a few dollars more. This is a good value for budget travelers, especially if you can do without air-conditioning, which is tough in David .
Hotel Occidental (Avenida 3 de Noviembre/4 Este between Calle A Norte and Calle B Norte, tel. 775-4068, 775-4695 or 775-8340, fax 775-7424, US$20.90 s, US$26.40 d), on the southeast side of Parque Cervantes, seems older than its 20 years, but offers 61 well-maintained and clean rooms with air-conditioning and phones. One nice feature is the spacious balcony that overlooks the plaza. There’s an authentically retro vibe about the place that gives it character.
Hotel Alcalá (Avenida 3 Este/Bolívar between Avenida Obaldía and Calle D Norte, tel. 774-9018, 774-9019, or 774-9020, fax 774-9021, http://hotelalcalapanama.com , US$25 s, 27.50 d) is a newish, modern hotel that offers 55 pleasant rooms with air-conditioning, cable TV, and phones. Surprisingly, the mattresses aren’t very comfortable. The hotel is close to the public market and has a restaurant that’s open until around 10:30 p.m. daily.
Hotel Iberia (Calle B Norte and Avenida 1 Oeste, tel. 777-2002 or 775-7395, fax 774-1950, hoteliberia [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$31.90 s/d) opened in 2002 with 34 spare but modern, comfortable, and clean rooms with air-conditioning, cable TV, and telephones. The hotel has a computer with free Internet access and a bar and restaurant. This place is a good value.
Hotel Castilla (Calle A Norte between Avenida 2 Este and Avenida 3 Este/Bolívar, tel. 774-5236, 774-5260, 774-5261, or 774-5262, fax 774-5262, www.hotelcastillapanama.com , US$44 s/d) remains popular with business travelers and is the best option for those who want a quiet, comfortable place in the heart of town (it’s across the street from Parque Cervantes ). The Castilla offers 68 pleasant, clean rooms with air-conditioning, phones, and cable TV. It’s my favorite place to stay in David . It stays comfortingly the same: spotless, well-maintained, and a good deal. (In practice, rates are often less than those listed, especially for singles.)
My only gripe is that the “hot water” is never more than lukewarm, though that doesn’t matter too much in a sweltering place like David. A few rooms have balconies. The hotel has an underground, gated car park, which is a plus for those driving these busy streets. The restaurant here is decent but nothing special. Dollar-fed Internet computers are in the lobby. This place fills up, so make reservations at least a day ahead of time if possible.