Checking in to American Trade Hotel, Panamá City

 
 

The American Trade Hotel in Panama’s Casco Viejo could easily be the most Instagrammed place in the city. I’ve long suspected that people travel here just to stay at the ATH and snap a pic in their beautiful lobby. But it’s much more than a pretty building with iconic blue-patterned cement tile floors (#ihavethisthingwithfloors anyone?). No, the American Trade Hotel is a place steeped in history.

Made up of a handful of buildings, in the early 20th century one of them was originally a high-end apartment house and the one next to it lodged a pharmacy on the ground floor, coincidentally owned by my husband’s cousin’s great grandfather. Kind of a tongue twister, I know. But that’s why a section of the floor in Café Unido, adjacent to the American Trade Hotel’s lobby, spells out “DRUG STORE” in tiny circular tiles.

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Later, as the city grew towards the East, Casco Viejo began to steadily decline and most of its buildings became occupied by squatters and gangs, including the ones that now became the hotel. But fast-forward to the present, and Casco Viejo has been reborn as the most dynamic neighborhood in the city, almost fully restored to its original glory thanks to the visionaries behind Conservatorio, a real estate company that owns much of the neighborhood. Rather than tearing everything down and making tall, shiny skyscrapers, endeavors in Casco Viejo such as the American Trade Hotel have valued the history behind each structure and have made this history part of the identity and the future of each new business that has sprouted there over the last 10 years.

Besides this amazing background, the American Trade Hotel is a true escapist’s dream, and so chic and easy on the eyes. Every time I walk through its doors I feel relaxed and transported to a time and place I can’t quite put my finger on, but it just feels right. Like old world charm meets modern-day luxury. My husband and I married there in 2014. That was my first stay. Then again one year later for our anniversary, and again this year for this story. It always felt like home, not just because of the enticing brunch, comfortable beds, delicious linens and luxurious bathrooms, but because the staff has always and consistently been so kind and warm. If you’re looking for style and substance in Panama City, look no further than the American Trade Hotel.

 
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