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Introducing Amarla Casco Viejo: A Striking Boutique Hotel with a Whole Lot of Soul

A refreshing and significantly different addition to the Panama hotel scene, Amarla (translated to ‘purity’) Casco Viejo is a eight-key boutique hotel located in Casco Viejo, Panama’s most historic UNESCO-designated region.

Founded by British entrepreneurs Asher Warr and Robin Faulkner, the innovative group made a statement with its first property in Cartagena, putting a marker in the sand with its genuine values rooted in local culture, community and design, while redefining the luxury hospitality experience. The group continued to expand with the opening of this property, Amarla Casco Viejo, in 2022.

Born out of a passion for travel, human connection and authentic experiences, Amarla Casco Viejo has been created using ‘purity’ as a watchword, with all aspects of the design based on this philosophy. Every facet of the hotel has been personally created by Panama’s finest craftsmen, utilising the local arts and artisan practices that are unique to the region, offering something completely different and unique.

BOUTIQUE

Not only is it a striking departure from the staid, traditional hotels that dominate the local hospitality scene, the property is connecting with a growing group of adventurers who are all searching for travel with purpose and inspiration. Only a handful of cookie cutter accommodations existed here until now, with Amarla marking a new dawn for the old town, bringing together a like-minded community of travellers with tropical, earthy yet premium, accommodation and social spaces.

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It has a soul like few other hotels in the area – with a big focus on authentic experiences and wellness – meaning guests leave feeling better than when they arrive.

Perched right in the heart of the historic district of Panama, Amarala Casco Viejo is the jewel in the crown of the rustic old town. Designed to offer guests the chance to experience understated luxury and local Panamanian culture, every facet of the property is inspired by the local rich heritage: from the architecture to the locally influenced restaurant, Amarala Casco Viejo offers an authentic cultural experience while simultaneously offering comfort and indulgence to modern explorers.

With only eight rooms, Amarla Casco Viejo is intimate and serene and the handicrafts of native artisans tie each of the rustically styled rooms and suites to a Panamanian province and each room has a set of photos by Phoebe Montague that depict highlights of the natural, cultural, and human wonders of Panama – from the Darien to Chiriqui.

In the design, the overarching aim was to build a contemporary adults only hotel, while leaving the surrounding area and local culture untouched as possible. In doing this, the hotel team created a concept that is greener on the inside than the outside, offering an urban oasis of giant palms and vertical gardens blossoming with jasmine and orchids.

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Every room at Amarla might be designed differently, but there’s one thread that ties everything together in a beautiful, artisan-crafted bow. The hotel’s love of local artistry is woven through every individually styled space, like the hand-decorated coffee cups painted by a Panamanian tribe, and the hand-spun textiles draped over your bed. And much like the multicultural Panama City, elements from far-flung corners have found their place beside the locally sourced treasures, including brassware from Morocco in the bathrooms, Indonesian silk in the British-made kimonos, and Portuguese linens.

For honeymooners or guests travelling for a special occasion, the Superior Duplex Suite is the ideal accommodation – as the hotel’s largest residence, it’s split over two levels, with twin balconies and a special remote-controlled skylight in the vaulted ceiling so travellers can watch the twinkling stars from bed.

Collaborating with local designers and suppliers to support the local design and artistic community while creating an experience that is eclectic, bold, and colourful is key to Amarla’s process. Amarla forms the core of a community of like-minded businesses in Casco Viejo, a neighborhood that is fast becoming Panama’s creative hub, and features the restaurant Kaandela which is a unique collaboration that combines local Panama cuisine with Amarla’s design and architectural expression.

Since the beginning of time humans have come together around fire to share stories, music, laughter and food. That is the essence of Kaandela. Fiery local flavours await and the bar has a spirited South American selection of mezcals and coffee (best sipped on the rooftop, overlooking the trendier-by-the-day Casco). The design is both bold and unique, seamlessly integrated within the centuries-old walls of this historic casona yet contemporary and relevant. The space is an embodiment of the area—sexy, elegant, laid-back, and tropical. Crafted cocktails and spirited tunes accompany the dining experience, while the restaurant team leads guests on a sensorial journey of explosive flavours.

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For wellness travellers, they’ll be pleased to know that the ultimate wellbeing experiences lies in the healing hands of the hotel’s certified wellness instructor, who guides guests through a series of breathwork, meditation, and yoga sessions, followed by a debrief in the bar with a cleansing herb-packed smoothie.

Free from formality but uncompromised when it comes to personal service and with exceptional design and creative programming, Amarla Casco Viejo showcases local rich culture and traditions through a lauded contemporary outlook. The hotel marks a catalyst for a new era of tourism in Panama, attracting a cool crowd of explorers, creatives, wellness lovers and adventurers from across the globe to explore the old town. Authentic local experiences, art, incredible design, visiting practitioners, make this one of the most exciting, and forward-thinking, properties not only in Casco Viejo but in Panama itself.

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