Panama City’s American Trade Hotel

I already have a growing list of places that I want to visit in Latin America (you know, so I can practice my Spanish) and this hotel is moving Panama to the top of that list. (After all, it’s only a five-hour flight from New York.) The American Trade Hotel is located in the 340-year-old Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City. The neighborhood was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. The American Trade Hotel, which just opened this fall, is a collaboration between the Ace Hotel group and Conservatorio, a Casco real estate development company that has been working to revitalize the neighborhood, and the Commune team was brought in to help with the interiors. Between the Commune team, Atelier Ace (The hotel’s in-house creative team), and Panama’s leading historic restoration architecture firm, Hache Uve with lead architect Hildegard Vasquez, this was a seriously talented group and it’s no wonder that the hotel is absolutely amazing. Those tiles just slay me.

When Conservatorio purchased the building in 2007, it was basically a graffiti-covered shell. Ramón Arias, a partner in Conservatorio, had a special tie to the building. His great-grandfather designed the space in 1917 as a five-story white stucco luxury apartment building with a bank and department store – which explains how the hotel got its name. It was the national headquarters for various U.S. and foreign companies. (An old RCA logo is still inlaid in the tile of one of the service hallways.) The hotel combines the original building with two adjacent houses. In the same way that the buildings were combined, different styles were brought together to create a marriage between different time periods and cultures. From the mid-century modern chairs to newer designs that highlight leather to the hardwood furnishes, the effect is as if you are just in a family home. That marriage of cultures and styles and time periods is what makes the hotel feel impeccably Panamanian. –Amy

Courtesy of Atelier Ace by Spencer Lowell

Image above: A glimpse of the hotel’s restaurant. The tables and chairs are designed by Commune for American Trade Hotel and handmade in Nicaragua. The weavings are by Tanya Aguiniga and wall sconces by Remains. Those amazing tiles are designed by architect Hildegard Vasquez of Have Uve. Hildegard is one of the partners of the American Trade Hotel and her husband, Ramón Arias, another partner, is the great-grandson of the American Trade Developing Company building’s architect.
Image above: According to Commune’s Roman Alonso, the inspiration for the lobby is a bit of New Orleans meets old Havana in a 1930s noir film, buzzing with international reporters and correspondents. The tiles are by Hildegard Vasquez and the lighting is by Atelier de Troupe.

Image above: The lobby bar lounge. Same tile pattern in a different colorway.

See more of the hotel after the jump!

Image above: The four chairs in the center are designed by Jamey Garza, and so are the turquoise chairs in the back left. The older chairs were found in the region or in Southern Mexico and brought in to the hotel. The chair on the right was designed by Commune for American Trade Hotel and handmade in Nicaragua.

Image above: This is the central courtyard with tiles designed by Commune for American Trade Hotel. The is the core of the hotel, above the lobby bar and adjacent to the library, the 2nd floor rooms open into the space and all above rooms look into it. There is a mix of classic Bertoia wireframe chairs, as well as a few slouch/lounges by Jamey Garza.

Image above: This central balustrade is a nod to the hotel’s graffiti-ed past. It’s actually a custom wallpaper made with snapshots of the graffiti which existed on the walls throughout the building. Prior to restoration local gangs had used the building as a lookout tower for rivals in the neighborhood.



Image above: The floors of the hotel rooms are made from hardwood that was pulled from the bottom of the canal and the doors are from the original Park Plaza Hotel in New York City.









  1. malisams says:

    i want to go to there.

  2. María says:

    Amy pack your pocket dictionary, let’s go there now!

  3. Becca says:

    Um… This is amazing……..

  4. Viviana says:

    I was there last week the place is gorgeous and the food also. Casco viejo of Panama City is a really nice place

    You must came to Panamá

  5. Taylor says:

    wow! Absolutely stunning!


  6. Donna says:

    I would never leave the central courtyard. Light, bright, & perfect for a drink and a book.

    // DONNA //

  7. I just walked by this building during my visit in December :) Pics look awesome!

  8. I was just there three weeks ago for lunch at the new restaurant! It was fantastic~ The food and atmosphere were amazing and old town Panama City was magical. I will return to Panama City next year! :-)

  9. Vero Palazzo says:

    i´ve been in Panama lasta week, and pass by this building… amazing!! I would love to have more time to take a peek inside! looks just great!

  10. smariel says:

    Panama is incredible and the Casco Viejo esp is amazing!! Anyone interested in design should go there. I went about a year ago and was stunned. Paired it with a few days on an island off the coast and it was the trip of a lifetime.

  11. Veronica says:

    Those tiles are gorgeous. Casco Viejo is lovely, you should visit. Wish this had been open when I went to Panama a few years back!

  12. Rebecca M says:

    I keep going back to the photo of the tiled floors. It’s like something out of a dream.

  13. Victoria says:

    Oh, my….this looks sublime.

  14. Eva says:

    Gorgeous spaces, gorgeous photography …wow!

  15. I love how the carpeting takes center stage as a platform for the soothing, monochromatic designer furnishings. And how airy and {sparsely &} meticulously curated things are. I now have this on my “to-visit” list.

  16. Mandy says:

    I was just in Panama last week and missed the hotel- I can’t believe it! : (
    I loved Panama City and the Casco Viejo especially- fab food, architecture, people and night life all in a small, safe part of the city. I can’t wait to go back!

  17. Theresa says:

    I stayed here in 1997, while backpacking in Latin America when the place was in a terribly rundown state – so wonderful that this amazing building has been saved from and restored to this standard. My two friends and I paid pennies to share a room then – I doubt that I would be able to afford to stay there if I returned now!

  18. Linette says:

    The perfect stage for a movie!


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