Charm, history, and incredible spirit at Las Clementinas Boutique Hotel.
When I started planning my trip to Panama and researching hotels, I was immediately drawn to Las Clementinas. Not only did it have a beautiful story, but it *was* beautiful itself! It’s run out of a fully restored house turned apartment building located discretely in the heart of Casco Viejo–a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its rooms (and rooftop!) feature gorgeous balconies, double doors, and amazing views of the Panama City skyline.
Our stay at Las Clementinas really began at the airport. All guests can securely book a reliable airport transfer via the hotel (complimentary with a minimum 3-night booking), which we definitely took advantage of! Our drive into Casco was actually quite nice. The streets were quieter than we expected, because as we learned it was Carnival. So most people were on holiday and many of the main roads were closed for festivities. The back roads and side streets that we took on our drive in gave us a really interesting look at the areas surrounding Casco that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Our driver Ernesto couldn’t have been more pleasant and considerate. He would even point out interesting areas and slow down for us to take photos and videos–so sweet!
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the always-smiling Miguel. Miguel would become our good friend and expert local advisor over the coming days. He was also bearing a gift of sorts…a welcome drink for each of us during check-in to help take the edge off after a long day of travel! If you’re a rum fan, you’re in for a treat.;)
Miguel started by showing us around the property. Passing through the doors to the right took us past the hidden garden–Mahalo’s (the attached restaurant) lovely outdoor seating area hugged by lush tropical greenery and topped with hanging fairy lights. Continuing onward along the side of the building, we passed the side entrance to Mahalo and went up a few steps to find ourselves on a mezzanine with seating that overlooks the event space below. Heading up just another two short staircases was the hotel’s studios…and a private area with seating for guests to enjoy a beverage or snack or to relax on a sunbed for the afternoon. Thinking about the building itself, which is completely restored, I can only imagine what it was like as a home.
It was originally built in the 1930s, following the economic boom that resulted from the the building of the Panama Railroad, the Gold Rush and the prospect of building what would be come the Panama Canal. These events saw a huge influx of people looking for prosperity. Unique for its time, Las Clementinas was neither a tenement house nor an ordinary house or hotel. Las Clementinas saw guests from various walks of life, all with eccentric personalities and interesting backgrounds. It’s thought that even today the apartments feature items left behind by their original guests. How special is that! The story of Las Clementinas is so unique and inspiring. You can read up on how the hotel got its charm and spirit here (just try not wanting to go after ;)).
After our tour of the grounds, we headed back around to the lobby. We then went up the winding staircase to see what we’d been eagerly waiting for–where we would be staying. From the second we followed Miguel into what was going to be our home away from home in Casco Viejo, I knew that leaving 4 days later would be a challenge. Apartment #4 and I were meant to be. 😉
Feeling at home when traveling is priceless. There’s nothing better than arriving at a new destination, getting to your accommodations and thinking, hey, I could live here. That’s exactly how I felt about Apt. #4. It was perfect.
From the entrance, Apt. #4 opens up to a large open space with a living room to the left and a dining area to the right. In turn, the dining area is adjacent to a decent-sized fully equipped kitchen.
Double doors lead from the living space into the bedroom, which itself is attached to a large bathroom with a sizeable walk-in shower.
Aside from its layout, decor and authentic feel, my favorite part about this space was its wrap-around balconies. Apt. #4 is located on the main/front corner of the building. So, it’s basically surrounded by balconies! Two of them are accessible directly from the bedroom and offer an incredible view of the Panama City skyline.
One of the balconies even has a small table and chairs so you can enjoy a meal or a drink. Decorated with little clementine trees for that extra touch, they bring the story of Las Clementinas and the hotel’s roots to life. Alongside the living space, multiple doors open up to one long balcony, overlooking the other beautiful buildings down the road. From inside, pushing aside the curtains lets light flood in, making the space feel even more open during the day.
The Restaurant: Mahalo Cocina y Jardin
Located on the first floor of Las Clementinas, Mahalo loops across the base of the building. It extends from the hidden garden on the right-hand side, through the building and to the main indoor seating area and bar on the left. With a layout closely intertwined with that of the hotel, Mahalo Cocina y Jardin is the perfect option for hotel guests, tourists and locals alike looking for fresh ingredients, great-tasting food (prepared by Top Chef Panama contestant Carlos Lucas!), relaxed Aloha vibes and yummy vegan/vegetarian options.
Chill and bright during the day and lively and upbeat in the evenings, a visit to Mahalo is a treat at any time of day. It even has a sister restaurant, called Mahalo Snack Shack, just a short walk away. We (eagerly) ate here every day for breakfast and got to try a lot of the menu. See below for some of my favourites!
Click here for a full post on Mahalo Cocina y Jardin and Snack Shack.
Location & Surrounding Area
Las Clementinas is located in the heart of Casco Viejo, the old town and historic district of Panama City. Much of the district consists of restored buildings and areas, surrounded by local areas where authentic Casco life unfolds. The hotel is just steps away from a number of attractions, parks and town squares, markets, shops and grocery stores, and some of the best restaurants and cafes in Panama City. Click here for my shortlist of must-try food spots in Panama City.
Casco Viejo is entirely walkable from the hotel. For longer trips, you can definitely grab an Uber or taxi. There are many taxi drivers in the main square, just a couple blocks away.
-Plaza V Centenario: 3-min walk
-El Arco Chato y la Iglesia de Santo Domingo: 7-min walk
-Plaza de la Independencia/Plaza de la Catedral: 5-min walk
-Rey Casco Viejo (main supermarket/grocery store): 2-min walk
Click here for my top 20 things to do in Casco Viejo.
Our trip wouldn’t have been the same without the help, attention and care of the Las Clementinas staff. Paola, the hotel manager, stayed in regular communication with me in the weeks and days leading up to our trip to make sure that everything was in order on both ends. Miguel was our go-to for restaurant and bar recommendations around Casco Viejo. He even helped make all of our reservations for us. I had come prepared with a list of places I wanted to try and he made it happen! He also introduced us to a restaurant that I hadn’t come across in my research. To our delight, it ended up being our most memorable meal of the whole trip! And Yasira’s big smile and bubbly attitude always brightened up our days. =D
The entire staff always made sure we were taken care of and comfortable. Their high-level service is a testament to how much they care about keeping the legacy of Las Clementinas alive and ensuring that their guests have wonderful experiences. Rest assured, you will be in the best of hands staying here.
If you’ve stuck around ’til here, I would love to hear what you think! Feel free to comment below with any thoughts or questions. If you’re planning a Panamanian adventure and Panama City and Casco Viejo are part of your itinerary, click here to book your stay at Las Clementinas Boutique Hotel!
This piece was written in partnership with the beautiful Las Clementinas Boutique Hotel. Sending so much love and many thanks to the entire staff for making our time in Casco Viejo extra special. Paola, Miguel, Katia, and Yasira, you are all *superstars* and I can’t wait to meet again! All opinions are my own. <3
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