In Panama City, modern society cozies up to the Old World for a unique and charming experience, one that’s perfectly captured at The American Trade Hotel. The American Trade Hotel—AKA the Ace Panama—is a vibrant gem at “the ecological and cultural crossroads of the Americas.” Housed in a gorgeously restored landmark building, the getaway for classy jetsetters and worldly travelers alike only opened its doors a few years ago and already has a grand reputation.
It’s the hotel’s breezy balance of chic and comfortable that does it. Furniture pieces of bold earth tones are picturesquely set against black and white paint and tile in the rooms’ simple, stylish aesthetics. Meanwhile, contemporary minimalism warmly welcomes guests to the lounges and garden courtyards. At the American Trade Hotel, everything feels like in its rightful place and nothing is overdone. As we’ve adored the American Trade Hotel since it hit the hospitality scene, we chatted with Spotted SF’s Leslie Santarina, who was recently a guest. Even though her ventures are predominantly based in San Francisco, she has a wonderful habit of exploring the rest of the world too—and she has good taste.
Photography & Words by: Leslie Santarina
Tell us a little bit about your trip.
As luck would have it, Panama City was my layover from my Cuba trip back home to San Francisco. And it was an overnight, so I had a bit of time to explore. Casco Viejo (Old Panama City) was a town I’ve wanted to visit for some time and the American Trade Hotel was the only place I wanted to stay.
What promoted this getaway?
For many years I traveled on my own to many corners of the world and I took a pause to think about a place I would love to revisit. Cuba has always been that place and my last trip was 12 years ago. I wanted to explore with new eyes and photograph all the colors, cars and people. Panama City was my connecting city and the return flight afforded some time to visit. I knew I wanted to stay in Casco Viejo (Old Town) and it turned out to be as delightful and colorful as I’ve seen in photos. I'm happy I had the chance to add this part to my whole trip.
What was your favorite part about stay here?
I really enjoyed the 2nd level of the American Trade Hotel. One half is outdoors with a pool overlooking the charming town below. Another part was a beautiful enclosed library to settle into for reading and drinking.
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We love The American Trade Hotel... Tell us about the experience!
Love at first sight! The moment you step through the doors you know you’re walking into something special. Impressive lobby, open seating areas, gorgeous tiling, a bar, restaurant and the piano man playing his tunes. I knew it would be a lovely place to settle into. And the rooms all have great views of the charming town around. My room looked out towards Panama Bay and the Pacific. Add the warm hospitality and all the fresh seafood and juices, too.
Restaurants, Shops or sites to see nearby?
Plenty of restaurants nearby, but honestly I enjoyed the American Trade so much I stayed in to try as many experiences as I could, including dinner, breakfast, snack, coffee, cocktails and a juice break. They make it hard to want to venture anywhere else when they're that good! Around the hotel you’ll enjoy the architecture of the historic buildings, beautiful churches, plazas, views of the newer parts of the city and lots of shops for Panama hats.
Are there any standout features of the property that are can't miss photo ops?
The whole property is a whole photo opp experience. You’ll want to capture everything.
Any fun stories or moments that stand out from your trip?
A visit to the Panama Canal was memorable and quite close to the hotel. A 15-20 min drive away. Sure I learned about it as a kid, but to actually witness it up close, see massive ships squeeze through the tiny passageway, and hear about the history and difficulties of building one of the greatest wonders of the modern world...it was spectacular.