We fell in love with the Casco Viejo section of Panama City, Panama, during our trip ten years ago.
I’m a bit of an architecture nerd and there was something magical about the abundance of old, crumbling buildings, calling out to be restored to their former glory.
It’s still not an uncommon sight to see a fully renovated building directly next to something that resembles ruins, but Casco Viejo is certainly transformed from what it was ten years ago.
At the time of our first visit, Casco Viejo was beginning its gentrification. I longed to stay in one of the restored buildings if we ever returned. That longing was satiated with our stay at Casa Sucre Boutique Hotel.
Location, Location, Location
The biggest plus for us with regards to staying at Casa Sucre was the location. It felt like all roads lead us back to our accommodation. It was nice to wander for a few hours, then stop back to our apartment for a bathroom, water, wifi, and air condition break. We could rest, regroup, I could throw up a photo or two on social media, and then head out for a few more hours. We could also drop off anything we purchased, like an abundance of our favorite brand of Panamanian coffee (sadly we feel like we still didn’t purchase enough).
All of the churches, plazas, and other places of interest in Casco Viejo were an easy walk away. The streets are old and narrow. There is limited parking in this section of the city. The traffic, especially on a holiday weekend, was bonkers, so being able to walk everywhere was a gift.
Casa Sucre Coffee House
The other nice part about the location is that Casa Sucre also operates a coffee house that is adjacent to the hotel. Breakfast at the coffee house was included with our stay.
It’s funny how on a normal day at home, I wouldn’t spend my morning at a coffee house, slowly sipping my caffeinated beverage and just watching the world go by, but when I’m somewhere else, it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do.
The atmosphere at the Casa Sucre coffee house invited relaxation.
Now I’ve read that the thing to get for breakfast is the tamale, and while I did witness many customers enjoying one, we had substantial dinners both nights of our stay, so we opted for lighter breakfast fare.
I got the strawberry yogurt and granola, and Shannon got the ham and cheese croissant. Of course they were good, because we felt the need to have the same thing two mornings in a row.
No Central American breakfast would be complete without coffee. The coffee was ideal. It was the kind that demanded to be sipped over a stretch of time and not thrown down one’s gullet.
Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, I’d recommend spending a morning or afternoon at the Casa Sucre Coffee House.
I owe all of the thanks in the world to Casa Sucre’s owner Richard Sherman. He was so kind and accommodating, especially after our last minute cancellation and reschedule. Checking in and checking out was easy and casual. He made sure that we had everything we needed during our stay. He even arranged for a taxi to take us to our cruise’s meeting spot on the day we checked out.
The staff working at the coffee house were lively, fun, and equally kind.
Our Room and Spaces
We ended up staying in the Crema Apartment (we originally booked one of the other rooms, but after our last minute rescheduling, we jumped on what was available).
Our apartment was on the first floor and had a beautiful door (I was pretty obsessed with the door) that opened out onto a courtyard. I wished we had more time, because it would have been nice to spend a morning or afternoon reading in the courtyard.
We didn’t utilize the kitchen except to keep our complementary bottles of water cold in the fridge. The living room space was useful. The sofa was a nice place to sit and relax, and having extra space gave us the ability to spread our things out so we could unpack as little as possible before setting out for our cruise.
The bed was great. It was nice and firm and was the perfect bed to deliriously fall into on our first night after being up since 2:30 am (the time we had to be up to catch our flight).
There was an absolutely beautiful sitting area on the upstairs level.
I suppose I will have to address the noise issue. There is a rooftop bar nearby where the partying and loud, thumpy, music lasts well into the tendrils of dawn. We lucked out because there was an alcohol ban in place midnight Thursday to midnight Friday for Good Friday.
Our first evening was peaceful, but things started jumping the second the ban was lifted at midnight on Friday. Richard the owner was nice enough to warn us about the bar noise and provided earplugs. Shannon is a heavy enough sleeper that he slept through it, and I travel with my own earplugs, so once I popped them in, everything was hunky dory. It’s such a great boutique hotel, I’d hate for something that is out of their control to deter people from staying, so bring your earplugs and rest in the knowledge that some delicious coffee will be waiting to greet you in the morning.
The apartment made me wish that we were staying in Casco Viejo for at least a week instead of only two nights. It would have been fun to settle into the space more. It’s just another reason to return to Casco Viejo as I would not hesitate to stay at Casa Sucre again.