Elegant. It’s the perfect word to describe The Bristol, a five-star property in Panama City’s Financial District. Understandably, it’s a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
The Bristol is Panama’s first luxury boutique hotel, opening about 20 years ago before the concept was well known. It’s hard to believe the hotel is that old — the gorgeous public spaces and room do not show their age one bit.
The hotel is simply beautiful. The Bristol’s furniture is all custom made; Benjamin Moore even named one of their paints Bristol Grey after the rich grey found throughout the hotel. The breakfast room is one of my favourites; it’s decorated more like a living room than a hotel restaurant (which makes it a popular spot for receptions too). Original art by Latin American artists — over $3.5 million worth — is sprinkled everywhere, some are from the private collection of the hotel’s owners and some are for sale. The hotel also participates in a foundation to help up-and-coming local artists develop.
My suite is exquisite and incredibly spacious, and has every amenity you can think of. I’m able to get some work done at the very comfortable desk (unfortunately meaning not enough time for a soak in the deep tub in the immense bathroom). My king bed is luxuriously soft and I have one of the best sleeps I’ve had in ages.
While Panama City has a wealth of great restaurants, you won’t want to leave The Bristol. One of Panama’s best known chefs, Cuquita Arias de Calvo, helmed the Bristol’s Salsipuedes restaurant and is known for creating Panamanian neo-cuisine. Her legacy is now in the excellent hands of Chef Bolivar, young and innovative, whose respect for local ingredients results in perfectly executed Panamanian dishes with vibrant flavours. Outside on the sidewalk terrace, enjoy one of The Bristol’s innovative cocktails — preferably with Panama’s national alcohol, seco — before heading inside for a dinner you won’t forget.
The Bristol also has a gym and a pool (sadly under repair during my visit) and sun deck near the breakfast room. Before and after your spa treatment, enjoy the spectacular views from the 25th-floor relaxation room over Panama’s architecture and out to the sea.
Just a few blocks from the long promenade bordering the sea, The Bristol is a wonderful luxury stay in downtown Panama City whether you’re here for business or pleasure. The hotel is stunning, and, best of all, The Bristol’s staff have the ideal combination of gracious hospitality with perfect service.