If there’s any doubt that Panama City’s Casco Viejo has truly joined the ranks of the world’s hippest neighborhoods, maybe the advent of the American Trade Hotel will settle the matter once and for all.
It’s an Ace hotel in all but name, and the Ace group manages to find—or create—a scene everywhere they go. In Panama, a sort of urban renaissance is under way, centered around the town’s historic quarter, and the American Trade, for all its agenda-setting originality, is at its heart an extremely sensitive restoration project.
Call it “fictional” restoration. They’ve taken very good care of the buildings, the former American Trade department store and an adjacent commercial building, but rather than simply roll back the clock, Commune Design created a fictional backstory—that of a family-owned hotel that’s been in place for centuries. Over time, Panama being the crossroads that it is, such a hotel would naturally accumulate a wealth of eclectic influences. The result of this process of invention is the hotel you see before you today.
Fifty rooms is the sweet spot for a vibrant yet intimate boutique hotel, and they’re a perfect mix of old and new: weathered wood, antique and modern furniture, retro colors and occasional balconies alongside Frette linens, plasma screens, and throwback-style tiled bathrooms (albeit thoroughly modern in function).
For now the lobby bar and the rooftop pool deck do an admirable job of seeing to the hotel’s socializing needs, but a restaurant, a café and a jazz bar (under the direction of Panamanian jazz pianist Danilo Pérez) are in the works. In a hotel like this one, the social aspect is of equal importance to the rooms, if not greater—watch this space, as there’ll surely be more to come.
Main text (above) via Tablet Hotels.