Featured Accommodation: Hostal Palacios, Boquete, Panama

Often when I get off a bus in Central America, I have no idea where I’ll bed down. When I stepped off the old but functional US school bus, I was casually greeted by Pancho Palacios.  As the Boquete native had a bed or two available in his hostel, he was checking to see if I was interested in a look.

While speaking somewhat loudly in Spanglish during the entire 25-second walk to the first room, telling me how comfortable his place is, and wondering how well I can understand Spanish, he showed me a dorm room for $8.50 and then a private room with private bath and hot water for $15.  I accepted the latter immediately.  After sleeping in a dorm bed for three straight nights in the city of David, I needed privacy and a better night’s sleep.  Upgrading sleep quality for just a few extra bucks is how I like things to be.

Due to what may appear to be exaggerated optimism, Pancho can come across as fake to some when they first meet him; however, if you stay for a day or two then you realize that his charisma and desire to care for his guests is genuine.  He always asks people how they’re doing and if they need advice. 

In an effort to keep his guests happy, Pancho acts as a makeshift concierge. He’ll sit down with you in his living room and explain different attractions.  He doesn’t try to push you to do expensive things.  As a matter of fact, the first things he suggests are the least expensive, and even free things that are available to do in the Boquete area.

He suggested that I walk the Pipeline Trail ($3) and El Pianista(free).   Next he put forward the lovely Mi Jardin es su Jardin (free).   One morning at 10 before nine, I told him that I was interested in a Coffee Tour ($30, includes a big bag of premium coffee beans).  Pancho made a super quick call and Carlos, my personal guide, was at the doorstep in 10 minutes.

When you pay heed to Pancho’s advice about attractions in Boquete, you come to realize that his guidance is sound.

If you’re anywhere between a budget traveler and a free wheeling spender, he’ll easily steer you in the right direction.  At his prices you can imagine that the majority of his guests are long-term, budget oriented travelers.

If you don’t speak Spanish, he’ll get the point across in a thick English accent, which he likes to throw Spanish words into, and sometimes even the translation of the English or Spanish word that he’s just used.

After living in Chile as a semi-professional basketball player for 15 years, Pancho returned to his native Boquete to start running the Hostal Palacios. He’s been running it for over 10 years now.

What makes Hostal Palacios unique is that you’re living in his home.  He lives in one room with his wife Janet and son Panchito.

The hostal offers private rooms with bath and a couple of dorm setups with two to five beds in each.  There are two kitchens, one exclusively for Pancho and his family, and the other for the guests.  There’s a living room with cable TV for guests to use.

Pancho also has a decent wifi connection.  I personally enjoyed working on his kitchen table as it feels like I’m in a home and not a hotel. There is space for two or three people to work simultaneously.  I wouldn’t have stayed there had he not been equipped with wifi.

In the back yard there are hammocks to lounge in.

Of all the places I’ve stayed on this trip of almost three months, I haven’t met a worker or owner of an accommodation that’s as friendly and genuinely hospitable as Pancho.

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Hostal Palacios boasts one of the best locations in town. Located in the center of Boquete, it’s  across the street from where the bus from David drops you off.

Hostal Palacios can be reached at 68285517.


2 responses to this post.

  1. DAVID: Thanks. Yeah, he knows about it. He’s not so computer/internet savvy, but I left him the URL and told him to have his son show him the page.


  2. Great write up for Pancho Palacios. Did you let him know you wrote this?


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