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Living La Vida Rock Star in Panama City
Built in 2011, the 66-floor Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis towers above Panama City and is attached to Multicentro, one of the largest modern urban malls in the region, with a huge supermarket and two-level casino within. So all you could possibly need is within steps of your stay.
Truth be told, I’d never stayed at a Hard Rock brand hotel before, though I was aware it was music-themed, I was nowhere near prepared for the extent of their commitment to that theme. And I loved it. The urban chic vibe with edge, luxurious amenities, and a very attentive staff all combine to really make you feel like a like a rock star.
Once in the lobby, I couldn’t help but bop, rather than walk, since the tunes on tap were absolutely infectious. And the unique exhibits like Bono’s Austin Mini -- signed by the legend himself -- and costumes worn on stage by all the music greats scattered mini-museum style throughout the entire complex were absolutely fascinating. The first five minutes in, I was already... a fan.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
The Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis Rooms and Accommodations
The hotel's 1,400 rooms and suites come in a choice of categories from Deluxe Rooms, Studio Suites, Rock Suites Gold, Rock Suite Platinum and Rock Star Suites. Mine was a Rock Suite Gold class affair on the 44th floor, and once I entered it, I became even more of a fan. The sweeping view out over the Pacific with spectacular skylines off to either side from my massive balcony was awesome. And my suite was seriously spacious - two bathrooms, two living areas, a large dining table and a small kitchenette plus a king-size bed with separate balcony entrance.
Too bad I didn’t have my own entourage to share it with, but I did have some rock legends to keep me company: gigantic portraits of Jim Morrison and John Lennon, plus the constant entertainment of rock videos playing on two 42” hi-def LCD TVs. Other amenities included a rain shower that really pounded rather than trickled, and a fully loaded mini-fridge. And after a long day of travel, I appreciated the fact that room service food... was fast, fresh, and arrived hot.
But what really rocked my world the most was their signature “Sound of your Stay” program. Offered at all Hard Rock Hotels is the ability to order a complimentary state-of-the-art digital mixer with an iPad and preloaded music, and playlists curated by legendary performers. But since I play guitar, I ordered a snazzy Fender electric axe replete with an amp and Nixon headphones -- also complimentary for the length of my stay. Playing classic-rock tunes on my balcony with that inspiring view was epic.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
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The Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis Dining and Restaurants
Bazaar is the hotel's buffet restaurant, with special theme nights where you can order additional dishes a la carte. It’s bright and airy, located on the 15th floor beside the pool area. Presentation was always gorgeous, and service very good, though sometimes the food could be a tad bland.
Much finer dining was to be had at Soy, a pan-Asian style eatery with some sunken tables for Japanese style zashiki floor dining, and at Tauro -- dedicated to rock stars born under the Taurus sign. Their artisan craft cocktails served tableside were wonderful, and the steak was absolute perfection.
But my favorite choice for eats, hand-down, was Ciao. They have an open-kitchen concept, informal and fun with couches and banquettes, and the menu of creative tapas like ropa viejo sliders and artisan style wood-oven fired pizzas never disappointed.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
The Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis Activities & Entertainment
Of course, music is king at all bars and special musical events abound. The Stage Bar usually had a live band, while Bling is disco Studio 54 reincarnated with light shows and a stainless-steel dance floor. (Though they also play current music.)
The Who R U Lounge, a la Austin Powers style, is also fun, but the star bar is the one on the roof. Bits, on the 62nd floor, is a sprawling labyrinth of rooms and nooks -- some open-air, and some secluded away for private VIP parties and the like. It starts late, and ends later. The lively vibe seesaws between steamy Latin beats and modern pop and hip-hop. And the 360-degree view of Panama City’s sparkly skyline from this vantage point is surreal. It’s also open to the public for a cover charge.
Daytime, it’s all about the infinity pool with four hot tubs, and lots of lounges and covered cabanas where a DJ keeps a South Beach beat alive. The Float Bar serves up tapas and snacks, signature frozen drinks and even hookah pipes should one be so... inclined. But do go early to snag an optimum spot, as it fills up fast. I felt that there should be an adult-only section, as sometimes children tend to hog the hot tubs as their playground for the day. The pool closes at 8 p.m., so sadly, no midnight swims.
For VIP_style pampering, the Rock Spa is luxe, and the treatment to try is their signature “Rhythm and Motion” massage which utilizes sound and vibrations as additional relaxation therapy. And don’t forget your bathing suit, as there is a small hydrotherapy circuit within. A large modern fitness center, a healthy juice bar and yoga lessons complete the experience.
While you are at the Hard Rock, visit the Megapolis Explorer desk to book tours of Panama's famous canal, the bio museum and the old city. Ask for guide “Violeta Won," she really knows her stuff! Attractions are all within 10-15 minutes of the hotel.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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