With a landscape defined by beaches, mountains, jungles, islands, and urban areas, Panama has one of the most diverse sets of accommodations of any country. In Panama City, glass towers and boutique hotels dominate, though a drive just outside the city reveals a world of rainforest ecolodges, thatched beach huts, bird-watching resorts, and coffee haciendas.
Canopy Lodge & Canopy Tower (El Valle de Antón & Soberanía National Park): Birders flock to these two ecolodges (just 25 minutes from Panama City, but worlds away in ambiance) for their location in habitats friendly to a wide range of species. The Canopy Tower, a remodeled military radar station in thick jungle, is a cross between a stylish B&B and a scientific research center. The Canopy Lodge is more luxurious, with a minimalist design that blends into the forested surroundings. Outstanding birding guides, a well-stocked library, day trips, and chats are a part of the stay.
American Trade Hotel (Panama City): U.S.–based Ace Hotels’ first foray into the region is this beautifully restored 1917 Casco Viejo building. Rooms are styled with reclaimed wood furniture and paneled walls. A terrace pool, restaurant, and jazz club on property make it oh so hard to leave. Tranquilo Bay (Bocas del Toro): Embraced by lush jungle and fronted by a thicket of mangroves, this resort, a haven for adventurers, is the most upscale lodging option in Bocas del Toro. The idea here is to provide activities that go where no other tour operator goes, including river kayaking on the mainland, snorkeling in remote areas, jungle hikes, and visits to remote beaches. The simply designed cabins offer plush interiors with high-quality beds and spacious bathrooms.
Punta Caracol (Bocas del Toro): It may not be the most upscale lodging option on Bocas del Toro, but its seclusion and romantic ambience make Punta Caracol a great choice for honeymooners willing to rough it a bit. The property consists of nine well-designed, two-story bungalows. Guests can jump right into the water (literally at your feet) for a bit of snorkeling or rent a kayak for a couple of hours.
El Otro Lado (Portobelo): This all-inclusive design hotel, reached only by boat across Portobelo harbor, is one of the most unexpected luxury accommodations in the country. The posh casitas are filled with luxe amenities and local artwork, while outside the property is a wonderland of mosaic tiles, lush green jungle, and a network of water features that range from an infinity pool to canals.
La Loma Jungle Lodge (Bocas del Toro): No other lodge (and chocolate farm) envelops you more in nature than this one—it’s like playing Tarzan and Jane. Sleeping in an open-air, thatched-roof bungalow is not for everyone, but the cabins are stylish, and two sit high in the forest canopy, with sweeping views. The lodge has guided nature and cultural visits with Ngöbe-Buglé Indians, organic meals, and an on-site butterfly farm.
Finca Lérida (Boquete): In Panama, the best place to escape the heat of the coast is in the highlands of the west, particularly around the coffee-growing town of Boquete. Every room at this cushy, Swiss-style mountain lodge features a balcony and hammock. Gastronomy is a key feature, with a restaurant from a renowned Spanish chef and estate-grown coffee that has been exported since the 1920s.
Gamboa Rainforest Resort (Gamboa): It’s billed as an ecoresort, but the Gamboa is more of a “destination megaresort” appealing equally to travelers seeking communion with nature as to those who just want to be surrounded by nature while kicking back at the pool. Guided nature tours include jungle boat cruises, an aerial tram ride through the rainforest, and a minizoo of reptile, butterfly, and marine species. It also has a full-service spa.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.