Looking for the best accommodation option in Panama? Many groups tend to have this idea that apartment penthouses downtown are the greatest option, but I’m here to tell you the opposite.
Whether you fall into this group or not I have found that this false allure of the apartment penthouse is driven by the desire for discretion and privacy. Both of which, you are less likely to receive in an apartment rental than a Panama City hotel. And no, I don't work for any hotel.
Panama boasts some of the highest end hotel chains including the Waldorf Astoria, Sortis- Marriott signature, Hilton, Trump Ocean Club, and the list continues. The majority of these hotels have casinos in them and cater to more free spirited discretionary clientele than you may think. Panama has become the adult playground destination of Latin America and the hotel policies reflect this.
On the other hand, the apartment penthouses are perceived as a quality option due to their confidential nature of being a private residence with “no rules.” In reality, these penthouses carry more rules than hotels in Panama, with the HIGH possibility of confrontation with neighbors or police.
Firstly, Airbnb is illegal in Panama. “Airbnb” laws exist prohibiting short term apartment rentals or leases for less than 45 days or publishing these rentals online. Breaking this law and publishing short term rentals can result in fines between $5,000-$50,000. Though this risk falls entirely on the proprietor, be sure to read the fine print! Some Airbnb-ers may include a clause regarding fees and if you are the unlucky renter during a police sweep, then the proprietor may look to you for some way to pass on the damage, in part or whole.
I mentioned police sweeps, yes. This may be rare, but Airbnb provides exact directions to the locations and this enables police to enforce this Airbnb law.
Other than the law prohibiting Apartment Penthouse rentals, the community outcry is probably a greater reason against apartment penthouses for reasons of sex tourism. Whether or not you are looking to rent an apartment penthouse for reasons of partying and sex, you are being thrown in with these other groups as this constitutes the majority of renters. Though prostitution is legal in Panama, it is designated to particular establishments and is highly regulated. Hotels understand these laws and the market demands. In turn, hotels have clearly defined and transparent policies regarding this.
Renters of these penthouses have been met with resistance from residents of the building, making malicious comments towards them, displaying large banners off of their balconies in protest, and accosting the rental guests upon entering or exiting the building.
Though the appeal for a downtown apartment penthouse is there, the benefits fall far below what a hotel penthouse or suites can provide.
Why believe me? At Highlife Panama, we arrange accommodations for a number of clients from Bachelor & Bachelorette parties to corporate clients. The hotels understand what you are looking for and are willing to bend over backwards in Panama to provide. With increased pressure from the community and the possibility of legal repercussions, why chance an apartment rental – take away the stress and enjoy one of the luxury penthouses in the hotels of Panama.