Finding the Hotel
I began my search for our accommodations as I always do, searching for places close to the city center that are within our budget. From there, I prioritize what is most important – price, location, amenities, etc.
I knew that I really wanted a kitchen in Panama City. We were coming from Flores, Guatemala where we did not have a kitchen and afterwards would be on a boat to Cartagena, Colombia. Since eating out can get old, I wanted a break where we could eat freshly prepared food that we cooked ourselves.
Our limitation on wanting a kitchen in a prime location severely limited our options but I was able to find a gem. Entre 2 Aguas was located in a great part of town, the rooms looked really nice and there was a great shared kitchen. Plus, as an added bonus, breakfast was included in the room rate.
While we could have stayed bang on budget by getting a room with a communal bathroom, Andy convinced me to go $5 per night over budget to have our own bathroom. Since I knew that we were under budget in lodging for both Belize and Guatemala, I agreed.
Entre 2 Aguas
We arrived into Panama City in the evening, catching a $30 taxi from the airport. While I hate to spend money on taxis, we always feel somewhat stuck when we have all of our bags with us and don’t know the layout of the city’s public transportation.
Once we checked in, we were given a keycard and our room keys. The key card impressed me as you needed to use it in order to enter the gate to the building as well as the building after 11pm. I felt very secure knowing that day or night, the only people on the premises were those that had key cards.
Standard Double with Private Bath
Our room was a very good size, having the Central American double layout with a full size bed and twin bed. Our bed was memory foam which was incredibly comfortable, especially after sleeping on springy mattresses for the last 2 weeks.
The most exciting thing for me was the dresser. It sounds bizarre but I loved the fact I was actually able to unpack my clothes from their packing cubes and have them in a drawer where I could easily see what I had. It made the hotel seem more like a home than a stop on our trip.
For the first time on our trip, we had air conditioning which was absolutely incredible. You don’t realize the things that you take for granted in the states until you live without them for a while. Not only is Panama City hot and humid, but lacks breeze which makes everything feel much hotter. Being able to have a sanctuary where we could cool down, especially at night, was amazing.
Our room had a mini fridge which was great. Even though there was a communal fridge in the kitchen, we liked having a place to store our food/drinks where we knew they would be secure.
Every day, our room would get cleaned. This is another one of those things that you take for granted at home. Our apartment in Belize was not cleaned during our week there and our hotel in Guatemala was only cleaned once during our 6 days. We really felt that we were living the luxurious life!
Once we arrived, we both wanted to take a shower since traveling always seems to make us feel dirty. Andy showered first and came out with a huge smile on his face. He told me that I would love the shower.
Once I got in, I knew what he was talking about. The hotel had hot water heaters which gave us a hot shower with the water pressure we were used to in the states. I stayed in the shower for quite a while, just enjoying the simple pleasure of having a great shower.
Besides the shower, my favorite part of the bathroom was the medicine cabinet. We finally had room to put everything that we needed in the bathroom, something that we had not been able to do before Panama City.
I was so excited to have a kitchen that we could use. Once we arrived, I realized that the dream I had painted in my head was not as good as the reality.
Communal kitchens aren’t great because:
Everything is only as clean as the last person left it
While I take pride in making sure that I clean my dishes well after using them, not everyone does the same. Several times I cleaned the pots/pans before I cooked, just to make sure that there was no residue from someone else.
Kitchen items are well worn and not high quality
At home we have an entire kitchen of high quality, well maintained items. In communal kitchens, you have a random mix of cheap things that have been used many times. The hotel had frying pans which were missing handles. I’m not quite sure why these weren’t thrown away, especially since you could buy new ones for less than $10.
The appliances can be terrible
The kitchen had a gas stove which you had to light with a lighter. No big deal until we realized that it was nearly impossible to light the gas. Of the 4 burners, there was only 1 burner that we were able to consistently light. Once it was lit, the gas was just barely coming out and that was the maximum heat. That being said, making dinner was a time consuming process as it was the equivalent of cooking everything on low.
You have to wait your turn
Most of the time when we were in the kitchen, we were the only ones there. The few times that someone else was there, we had to wait our turn to use the limited kitchen equipment. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can be annoying, especially when you’re hungry.
While there were some nice communal areas, we didn’t really use them much because there were quite a few mosquitos. I believe that the beautiful greenery around the hotel, while it looked nice, gave the bugs places to live.
We were pretty excited to have breakfast included in our room rate as it was something that we could eat for free without having to prepare. While I didn’t expect a lot, the breakfast was a little lackluster.
Every morning there was pretty much the same spread:
- Some sort of pastry
- Yogurt drink
While I enjoy cereal as much as the next person, I did not like that the milk would sit out without any form of refrigeration. I ate it but one day when the milk was particularly warm, I did not feel well. It is the exact same reaction that I had when we ate cereal in Thailand during our honeymoon.
The location of the hotel was perfect for us. It was a 5 minute walk to the Via Argentina metro station and just off a few blocks from several main streets. We were not in the downtown high rise area where many hotels were which gave us a different perspective of the city.
We quickly learned how to use the mass transit system to get all over town. We liked traveling around like the locals, especially when we were able to take a bus for a quarter or the metro for 35 cents.
If you are looking for a secure, reasonably priced, well located room, I would highly recommend Entre 2 Aguas. If being right in the middle of the action, having a kitchen or a good breakfast is important to you, I would look elsewhere.