Tantalo Hotel: A Night in the Love Ouch
Not my first choice, but the last room left at my top hotel choice.
For my first night in Panama City, Panama I decided to forgo the chain hotels and stay in the heart of Casco Viejo. I’m a shy person and tend to get lazy when jetlagged, so I figured being a few blocks away from the restaurants and sites I most wanted to see would decrease the chance I’d wimp out and spend my evening in a hotel club lounge.
And in this case I was actually staying at one of the not-to-be-missed restaurants & bars: Tantalo Hotel/Kitchen/Roofbar.
It’s best known for (you probably guessed) the restaurant and rooftop bar offering great views of the sunset and both old and new Panama City. But it’s also a boutique hotel with just 12 rooms.
There was just one room left for my dates and after weighing the pros and cons of staying at the exquisite looking American Trade Hotel or the nearly as well reviewed Tantalo Hotel for half the price, I picked Tantalo.
The going rate was $149 but with strategic use of 10% off insider pricing with free membership, my few Orbucks and Orbitz’s 15% hotel discount with code TRAVELMORE, I got the price down to $122 plus tax. Very proud of that.
I feel in love with it as soon as I walked into the lobby, which is actually the restaurant and downstairs bar.
My room was on the first floor, room #1. I’d noticed on my Orbitz booking it was called the Love Ouch, and when I walked in I saw why.
Very funky! The bed wound up being really comfortable despite the spikes directly overhead and the whip silhouettes on the wall. The high heeled boots made me feel quite at home.
Though the décor wasn’t quite my usual aesthetic, I loved the room. It was HUGE! And had access to a sweet little private balcony. At first I thought it was shared, but the second set of doors were just for show, looking in on the staircase.
The bathroom and amenities were good, though in the morning I couldn’t figure out how to get hot water no matter which way I twisted the handle nor how long I waited.
This probably could have been fixed with a quick call to the front desk, but I get ornery and punished myself with a quick lukewarm shower.
A free welcome drink coupon was included at check in, so I headed up to the rooftop bar around 4:30 or so. It was fairly empty and I grabbed a seat looking out at the Panama City Skyline.
Wine selections were limited to blanco or tinto (yikes!) and it was clear the rooftop bar, like Tuscany, doesn’t know what to do with solo travelers. So after one drink in the somewhat stifling humidity I headed down to the Kitchen for dinner.
Apparently solo travel is puzzling to all in Casco Viejo, not just on the Rooftop, though at least this time my waiter didn’t panic when he had to remove the extra place setting. The food was just as good as all the reviews had promised.
So the spicy olive amuse bouche first got my attention.
And then I went with the pricey bacon wrapped shrimp my waiter recommended, fearing the recommendation was just to boost the bill, but willing to gamble on bacon. It somehow avoided being trite and had both scrumptious and surprising flavors.
And because bacon isn’t indulgence enough, I also ordered the vegetarian empanadas.
AMAZING. Slightly sweet and a perfect contrast to the salty mayo-esque aioli dipping sauce. The right kind of dessert for me! They had a slightly better wine-by-the-glass list downstairs and the Spanish Balboa red blend for $8 a glass wasn’t bad.
Breakfast was included with some equally enticing menu options. And the prices were reasonable by US standards, so even if you’re not staying at Tantalo Hotel, it’s still a good breakfast option.
I kept it simple with their traditional breakfast sandwich croissant and mixed it up a little with my blackberry panama mojito tea. The one complaint, none of their very fancy tea options (Sexy Almonds anyone?) appeared to be black tea, a must for my morning ritual.
The staff was friendly the whole stay and particularly nice about storing my carryon securely so I could spend the morning site seeing. I highly recommend! And if the websites say they’re sold out for your dates, it might be worth calling to double check as I found out when I was leaving that they weren’t actually sold out for the second night…
Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!