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“Panama Hotel in Seattle's International Distrist is a must stay”
Review of Panama Hotel

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Panama Hotel
Ranked #89 of 101 Hotels in Seattle
Albuquerque, New Mexico
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Panama Hotel in Seattle's International Distrist is a must stay”
Reviewed 16 May 2011

I stayed here one night in May. Was in Seattle on business. Talk about steeped in history! This place feels, oozes, drips, looks and smells it. The Panama Hotel was built by a Japanese entrepreneur in 1910 and I loved that I was in same place as the Japanese immigrants, Alaskan fisherman and workers who had landed in Seattle to make a better life for themselves and their families. I am Japanese American and had heard about the hotel before the book came out (and no, I have not read, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"). I regret that I did not have time to get a tour of the Japanese Bathhouse which I hear is not to miss. I LOVED my free continental breakfast (fabulous almond croissant and awesome coffee - and by chance met a 90 year old Nisei - second generation Japanese American - woman who lives nearby who came in for coffee on the way to her hairdresser. We had a wonderful time chatting, she had a razor sharp memory of her early years in Seattle, her family was shipped off to the Minidoka internment camp during WWII) in the adjacent Tea & Coffee House. The owner, Jan Johnson, took the time to talk to me about the hotel and to make sure my stay was memorable. I was in Room 118 across from the womens' bathroom (with an ancient brass sign on the door, "Ladies' Bathroom") with a clawfoot tub in it. There is a shower two doors down. The hotel was QUIET, the linens FIRST CLASS GORGEOUS, the bed to die for. There is a little sink in the corner of the room. The built-in wardrobe and chest of drawers added to the feel. There was even a yukata (cotton Japanese robe) hanging on the side of the wardrobe I felt compelled to wear. To get to the actual hotel you have to climb two sets of straight up steep stairs - no elevator, so be prepared. It's awesome, nothing like that introduction to let you know you're in for something special. The clerks at the top of the stairs are sitting at a makeshift table to sign you in. They can help lug up luggage if you need. The clerks were friendly. I did ask about a hair dryer and was told there wasn't one but found out later from Jan that there is one available to guests. Not a big deal. I thorougly enjoyed my stay, wish it were longer. If you're into history and historic hotels, THIS IS A MUST STAY when you're in Seattle.

  • Stayed May 2011, travelled on business
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Helpful?
8 Thank uconnhuskies12345
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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177 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (34)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
East Lansing, Michigan
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 March 2011

This hotel is great! The owner is really friendly, and seems to have dedicated her life to preserving this landmark hotel and the stories that come with it. The rooms are very well kept and are meant to be as similar to the original rooms as possible.
I stayed here because I had read "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" and wanted to feel closer to the story. It worked!

  • Stayed March 2011, travelled solo
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Helpful?
6 Thank mark_h88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 September 2010

The good part is that the Panama Hotel is in an interesting part of Seattle, surrounded by a lot of Asian restaurants and grocery stores. The bad news is that it's run by a really terrible woman. I don't want my bad service rating to reflect on the staff, they were not great, but okay. But the owner seemed like she was always there, yelling at people, harassing other tenants, and just generally making my stay as uncomfortable as I can imagine.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled solo
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Helpful?
6 Thank cpaulson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Seattle hotels

Seattle
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 July 2010

I stayed in the Panama Hotel in Seattle last night for the first time. I’ve wanted to stay here ever since reading Jamie Ford’s book “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”. I’ve travelled to 27 countries now and throughout the US (I used to teach computer application classes) and this is truly a “one –of-a-kind”. The hotel is a Federal Landmark and is maintained to reflect its historical nature. There is no elevator, phone, TV, internet access, air conditioner, radio, etc in the rooms. There weren’t there 100 years ago and you know I really was fine with that. I did bring my laptop but the outlet didn’t match my plug so I actually went to sleep early – how about that! My room was furnished with antiques including a bouncy bed that reminded me of one my grandmother had many years ago. The mattress was comfortable with many pillows and a feather comforter. I slept like a rock. I travel a lot and I do use earplugs so I really couldn’t tell you if there were any noises to be concerned about. There was a sink, towels, and soap in my room as well as a very pretty Japanese robe that I was tempted to keep. The bathrooms are co-ed and shared. Mine was a couple of doors down and was very clean. I’ve stayed in several hotels with shared bathrooms before but never in the US. It made me feel like I was back in Europe. There was a Siamese cat (Mocha) roaming around that is apparently very picky about who gets to pet him I was one of the lucky few. The guy (Greg) that helped with the room was very nice and the owner (Jan) was informative. Guests get to have a free coffee and pastry in the Tea and Coffee house downstairs which is where I am at this moment writing this review using their free internet. I do recommend the Squash bread, I’d love to have a second piece but I’m guessing it’s not fat-free.
I’ve read numerous reviews about this hotel and some of them were pretty bad but now that I’ve been here I really think it’s all about one’s perspective and what kind of traveler one is. I’ve stayed in a few other hotels in the Seattle area including the Crown Plaza, on several occasions. If you want a typical experience and are unable to see the historical, eclectic, unique features of a place then you probably aren’t the kind of traveler that would enjoy the bouncy bed, the steep stairs, the co-ed bathroom and you’re really going to miss out on a truly unique experience and this tasty, tasty squash bread.
If you’re like me and want to have new and unique experiences and LOVE to tell travel stories and look for the unexpected then you really, really need to come here. Reading the book prior to coming just added to the experience. I see the ghost of Sheldon everywhere I look and last night somewhere I heard the sound of a far off saxophone and thought of him….. Good times!
As a footnote – I was very concerned about what another person wrote about the rat traps and almost didn’t come here because of it. I actually looked around for them. What I found was one of those sticky flat things under one of the dressers. It‘s sort of like the insect traps I have at home. I suppose being this close to the water and around all this food (a million Japanese/Asian restaurant and food stores) there is bound to be mice. The traps just showed me the owner was being proactive about it. I didn’t see any mice and had I saw one, well… again I’ve travelled to 27 countries and have seen a lot of stuff – a mouse, that would be the least of my concerns. You should have seen what I found in my hotel in Egypt. Anyone ever seen a camel spider? I won’t’ even tell you what I saw in the jungle hotel in Belize.

Enjoy!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled on business
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Helpful?
8 Thank AnninSeattle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Maine
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 June 2010

The hotel bathrooms were not all operational. The room was not cleaned or beds made until requested. The owner was angry, rude and totally unresponsive to requests. The coffee shop and lobby were not opened as advertised. It was a nightmare place to stay!

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled solo
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Helpful?
4 Thank MAE2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, Florida
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 June 2010

I stay in lots of unique, antique, penssione-type rustic places all over the world, and while this hotel is attempting to be quaint and historic it is clearly straddling the line between hotel and flop house. Some travelers have written positive reviews: maybe they weren't paying attention to the details, like the rat traps under the beds, the overwhelming smell of cat urine and actual roaming cats in the hallways, and flop house clientele who book rooms by the month. Honestly if you are a solo traveller or young adventurer you might be able to handle this--but if you have asthma, are squeamish about rats, and are uncomfortable with drunks and prostitutes going in and out, don't stay here. I went in, saw the room, saw the cats and sleazy neighbors and only stayed for a few hours before leaving. Impossible to spend the night here.

  • Stayed February 2010, travelled solo
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Helpful?
8 Thank hi_heleana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Juan Capistrano,
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2010

I called from our Cruise Ship Guide to book a couple nights upon our return from our cruise to Alaska. My first hint that this could be a problem was as the taxi driver asked where I got the name of this hotel, that it normally dosen't cater to the "cruise ship types". Then he proceeded to tell me, as gently as possible since my young son was traveling with me, that there had been a massacre in the area ( in the basement possibly) of this hotel!!!! We arrived and there was the steep staircaise looming ahead with a "check in desk" the size of a letter holder sitting at the top. So we lugged our luggage up to the top and were shown to our "room". They had said it was historic but so were the beds. My son sat down and the springs sank nearly to the ground and the bed leaned sideways. Then I went to lock the door and the lock fell out, so I went back to tell the "check in person" that this was just not going to work at all. He then called the owner and showed us to a room with a bed that I thought could work for 2 days. That night the "woman" in the room above seemed to be doing alot of repititious "entertaining" on one of those spring mattresses that actually was hitting the floor above our heads all night. And the room next to us left a light on all night long that shined right into our window and assisted the woman above in keeping me up all night. I had a pillow over my sons ears!!!! I checked out FIRST THING in the morning and stayed at a hotel far outside of town since there weren't any available high time in town. Such an unbelievably awful stay that I may never go back to Seattle because of it!!!!! The worst time I have ever had and I have traveled to 4 continents with my son.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled with family
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Helpful?
8 Thank ranger011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Panama Hotel

Property: Panama Hotel
Address: 605 1/2 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98104-2717
Region: United States > Washington > Seattle > Downtown , International District
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #89 of 101 Hotels in Seattle
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:2 star — Panama Hotel 2*
Number of rooms: 101
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Panama Hotel Seattle

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