On the waterfront in Panama City’s Casco Viejo, the exquisite and elegant, colonial yet contemporary Sofitel combines French flair and Panamanian panache. Irresistibly inviting, indisputably indulgent, the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo is delightful gateway to Panama’s cultural, cobblestoned heart.
Designed by American architect James C. Wright, this engineering masterpiece was built for Panama City’s Club Unión, which hosted the likes of Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth II. The club relocated in 1967, and after years of disrepair, the Accor hospitality group joined forces with renowned architect Manuel Choy of Panama’s Architect S.A. Together they injected Sofitel trademark elements into the building, transforming it into a stunning and prestigious French-inspired hotel that blends art, style, and comfort. In 2023, it became the Sofitel Legend brand’s sixth address and a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide. Travellers hungry for a touch of history, a splash of culture, a pinch of luxury, and incredible amenities will find them all in this iconic neoclassical property.
Arriving guests are greeted by a tiled lobby with nautical-inspired designs and a statement wall featuring a massive fresco map of the Panama Canal. Guests can relax at the spa for treatments including hot stone massage and sound bathing, sunbathe by the infinity pool with clear ocean views, and sip and savour at the five food and beverage venues onsite. At Mayda, Le Gouter is a signature afternoon tea crafted by pastry chef John Moreno, and Vera Café blends French delights with Panamanian coffee. For dinner and late-night drinks, Caleta, led by chef Lorenzo Di Gravio, fuses Panama’s deliciously fresh seafood in a Mediterranean brasserie setting, while on the rooftop, Ammi’s skybar offers indoor and outdoor dining with ocean and skyline views.
The 159 beautifully decorated, elegantly cozy guest rooms and suites, complete with mahogany floors, marble countertops, velvet couches, local artwork, and both modern and archival photographs of the property, feel like private sanctuaries. Upper rooms have balconies with ocean, skyline, courtyard, or Casco Viejo views.
Casco Viejo is a safe and walkable UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to 1673. Step outside the hotel, hang a left, and head to the scenic seaside Paseo Esteban Huertas, a bougainvillea-canopied promenade along the city’s outer wall, and look for the Kuna women selling handmade Panamanian molas (textiles). Meander the cobblestoned alleyways lined with jelly-bean-coloured buildings, and stop at some of the nation’s top museums and major landmarks, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama, Plaza Mayor, and Iglesia de San José.
While chic restaurants and pulsating clubs energize the neighbourhood after dark, consider heading to Arcano, the Sofitel’s intimate speakeasy hiding behind a library shelf. With a private terrace overlooking the city and sea, signature cocktails, and mixologists who double as tarot card readers and provide astrological help when picking your drink, it’s a memorable nightcap.