This isn't really a hotel per se, but rather a home owned by an older expat couple with a duplex guest house in the garden and a flat in the main structure. What that entails is that the services provided are more in line with hostels than hotels.
- Fantastic location. Turn right and walk a kilometre, you're at the supermarket. 200m and you're at one chino, 200m the other way and you're at the other. You're five minutes outside of town by foot and maybe 45 minutes from either opposing ends of the valley.
- Very nice hosts. They're pretty reserved and not ones to chat often, but they were always very polite and friendly.
- Free coffee and tea in the mornings delivered to your room. Right now I'm doing coffee in the gazebo hammock with a small stream behind me and a view of the mountains in front surrounded by hummingbirds. For this alone I'd stay here again.
- It's a really high quality, if simple, room. The guest room as of April 2014 is $240/w ($220 starting in May, rainy season). You get two comfortable beds, one queen and one double, with warm blankets and soft pillows. The shower has pressure to it and runs all the way up to scorching, a much needed luxury in Panama considering that most showers here are weak and cold. It's clean, it lights well, it's got great surroundings, and unless you're looking for chocolates on your pillow it has everything you need including a minifridge with $1 national beers.
- They have animals. Chickens, a black lab who instantly loves everyone he meets, two sloths but they only really come out for a couple hours a day in the afternoon so I've not personally seen them after the first day. The garden is full of birds, frogs, and plants though those aren't animals.
- The power is steady. This was an issue in other small Panamanian towns. It didn't go out once here, though the bathroom light tends to waver sometimes.
- The internet is wonky. It only extends to the guest rooms about 20% of the time and even then is really weak. In the gazebo and the watch tower you can generally get a steady connection and download at 100-500kb/s, but you probably won't be surfing in bed.
- The chickens are right across from the guest rooms and they like to announce this. I didn't wake up at 6AM by choice, but because roosters are sadists.
- There isn't on-site laundry. The laundromat is about 200m to your right as you exit and costs 75 cents to wash and $1 to dry. If you're staying for a weekend it's no big deal, but after a week you start to wish pillow cases/sheets/towels were washed. Again it's a house rather than a hotel.
- The kitchen is locked down in the main structure. Any request for utensils I had was filled immediately, but it's not a public kitchen as far as I know. El Valle is a retreat for wealthy Panamanians and you'll struggle to feed two for under $15-20. That's not much at first glance, but you're paying that at every meal.
- You're in a garden and there are bugs. Not a lot and it was never an issue for me, but my girlfriend doesn't like bugs so she had some stressful nights.
- The noise level gets trying sometimes. It's right on the main road and Panamanians like to awaken early. From about 6AM to midnight you'll have traffic, fruit vendors announcing their truckloads over megaphone, insect and bird noise, lawn mowing, etc etc. There aren't any other options in the same price range for places away from this noise as far as I know.
All in all, I'd highly recommend this place and fully intend to stay here again if I come back to Panama. It works out to the price of a cheap motel in the US or Europe, but not once did it feel cheap or artificial. It's a genuinely great option.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Casa Mariposa is a guesthouse in the center of el Valle de Anton with an apartment and two guestrooms for rent. The huge terrace offers a wonderful view of the mountains, like the India Dormida,, Caraiguana and the Gaital. The unique tropical garden invites you to relax and enjoy bird watching. Parking and Wifi are included. ... more less