top of page
  • Writer's pictureNatalija Ugrina

What do Central Hotel Panama and Titanic have in common?

In the early hours of December 31st, as the clock approached 2 AM, our spontaneous New Year's Eve plans took an unexpected turn. Faced with the dilemma of how to ring in the new year, I found myself browsing available flights and, on a whim, decided to embark on a last-minute adventure to Panama.


in front of "Central Hotel Panama" on NYE
in front of "Central Hotel Panama" on NYE

Amidst the plethora of hotel options, one particular gem seized my attention – the Central Hotel Panama. This historical marvel, built nearly 150 years ago by Frenchman Emil Dreyfous, holds the distinction of being the first-ever hotel in Panama. Imagining the grandeur of its early days, where French canal builders, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and Count Ferdinand de Lesseps graced its halls, added a layer of allure that modern comforts couldn't match.


It was not merely a hotel but a melting pot of stories, a meeting point for visionaries and adventurers. The corridors echoed with the whispers of deals struck and histories made. Even after the devastating fire of 1878, the hotel rose from the ashes, reconstructed in 1884, becoming a beacon of Europeanizing modernity in the late 19th century.

central hotel panama

As I strolled through its historic corridors, I couldn't help but imagine the conversations that reverberated within. The Central Hotel Panama became more than just a place to rest; it was a crucible for ideas, a backdrop for historical moments. It played host to the Revolutionary Council on November 3, 1903, serving as their office and provisional headquarters during a pivotal time of military control and strategic planning.


Rising from Ashes – A Phoenix Tale: Constructed by the visionary Emil Dreyfous in 1874, the hotel faced a fiery trial in 1878 but emerged stronger in 1884, now baptized as the Central Hotel Panama. The brothers Shuber, during its construction, left their mark, setting the stage for a rendezvous with Europeanizing modernity.


Whispers of the Past in the Courtyard: Venturing into the enchanting «Palm Garden», I discovered a green oasis that transcends time. This interior courtyard, more than a mere space, served as a time machine, transporting me to the laughter and conversations of yesteryears. The air was thick with tales, and every rustle of leaves seemed to carry the whispers of a bygone era.


The Interior Courtyard
The Interior Courtyard

Drama, Love, and a Dash of Revolution: In 1894, the hero of our narrative, Henry Ehrman, stepped in to restore Central Hotel Panama to its former glory. By 1903, the hotel played a pivotal role in a revolutionary drama, hosting the Revolutionary Council and becoming the backdrop for military control and strategic plotting. The corridors witnessed the ebb and flow of history, capturing moments that shaped the destiny of Panama.


Dive into the Heart of Panama City: Situated on the east side of Plaza de la Independencia, the hotel reigns supreme opposite the Cathedral, at the heart of the cobblestoned Old City or Casco Viejo. This vibrant neighborhood, pulsating with the city's nightlife, offers a welcoming blend of locals and visitors. Safety is paramount, making it an ideal anchor for tourists exploring the best restaurants, the Panama Canal Museum, and the Panama Art Society, all within walking distance.


The view from my room
The view from my room

Modern-day Magic with a Titanic Twist: Fast forward to today, and Central Hotel Panama stands as a meticulously restored icon, continuing its legacy as a haven of history. As I wandered through its corridors, a curious tale unfolded. A worker at the hotel shared a fascinating tidbit – the staircase within was allegedly crafted by the same company that built the Titanic's grand staircase. Though I couldn't personally verify this claim, the mere possibility added a touch of mystery to the hotel's allure, intertwining its story with that of the legendary ship.


In conclusion, Central Hotel Panama isn't just a place to rest your head; it's a living narrative that invites you to stroll through time. As you explore its corridors, bask in the ambiance of its Palm Garden, and relish the comfort of its luxurious rooms, you're not just a guest; you're a participant in Panama's captivating history. Now, as you envision the grand staircase with its alleged Titanic connection, let your imagination soar. What stories do you think the staircase could tell? Share your thoughts and join us in this enchanting dance through time at Central Hotel Panama! 🕰️🏨✨


In conclusion, as the saying goes, the most spontaneous plans often turn out to be the best plans. This impromptu New Year's Eve celebration in Panama stands testament to that. Stay tuned for the next blog, where I'll be unraveling the charm of Casco Viejo. Now, before you go, take a look at the picture of the staircase and tell me – do you think it bears a resemblance to the Titanic's grand staircase? Let your imagination roam in this enchanting dance through time at Central Hotel Panama! 🕰️🏨✨


The staircase at the Central Hotel Panama
The staircase

Best Hotels in Casco Viejo, Panama City (affiliate links):


Luxury:


Mid-range:


Budget:





bottom of page