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deville2.jpgI was just in Panama City long enough to get a sense of the city (due to an, ahem, unfortunate passport mishap that delayed my trip). There are some seriously sketchy areas (where, for instance, a kind local may advise you not to even get out of your car) but there are other areas like Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old quarter, and pockets of the financial district that are primed for tourists. It’s remarkable to see the towering skyscrapers and shiny new condominiums (with plenty more being constructed as we speak) lining the highway into the city and across the water from the old town; development is indeed booming here. The most charming neighborhood is Casco Viejo, a Unesco World Heritage site, which is slowly being renovated and houses a few boutique hotels transformed from historic mansions. The DeVille Hotel on the outskirts of the financial district is a fine bet for a night or two in the city. The all-suites boutique offers roomy two-story units with a separate sitting area, marble bathrooms, exposed beamed-ceilings, a balconied staircase up to the second bedroom, functional yet elegant furnishings, TVs, minibar, safe, and Wi-Fi. The lobby has a somewhat corporate feel but the staff is friendly and accommodating. There’s no pool or gym but an onsite restaurant is opening soon and various eateries are just stroll or cab ride away. Room rates start from $260/night.

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