Luna’s Castle Hostel was the first hostel I stayed in in Central America and I’m glad it was. I kinda feel like this set the stage for an amazing backpacking adventure.
I landed in Panama City at like 1:30am with another backpacker I had just met from Georgia. We split the cab fare to Luna’s Castle Hostel not really knowing what to expect. My friend from Georgia wasn’t familiar with it and I just heard the name thrown around. I hadn’t actually looked up any information on it.
Since we arrived at that early of an hour we had two options:
1) Pay the $13 for a room until noon and then pay an additional $13 at noon for the next night or…
2) Rough it if for the evening, pull an all nighter until 8:00am, at which time we can pay for a full day and get a room.
We’re budget backpackers, the answer was obvious, we were going to save some money, find some brews and pull an all nighter.
After talking to the staff they recommended an all night cafe so we headed there for some grub
Finding our way back around 4:00am we had planned on hanging around the lobby until 8:00 until we could get a room for the day.
And this is where Luna’s Castle Hostel staff really showed how awesome they are.
We finally made our way back to the hostel at around 4:00am and started contemplating what we were going to do for the next 4 hours. One of the staff members was up and overheard our dilemma and jumped in on the conversation.
She was curious as to why we were staying up instead of paying for the room. We explained that staying up wasn’t a big deal and we would rather save the $13. (Which could be used for 10 orders of ceviche down at the fish market)
Finding this out, she led us to their theater room (yes, they have a theater with a projector at this hostel). The theater had wide seating platforms with pads and pillows. She told us to just pass out there until the morning when we could then pay for a night’s stay and get an actual room to sleep in.
Talk about hospitality.
Morning comes around, we wake up, check in, sleep in for a bit more, then start our day.
So, beyond the hospitality what makes Luna’s Castle Hostel pretty awesome?
- Coffee, pancakes and bananas for breakfast
- The fact that it’s like a mansion with wood carvings, high vaulted ceilings and artwork absolutely everywhere
- A stocked fridge with water, sodas and of course beer
- Table tennis
- Hammocks and couches to lounge around in
- Computers to catch up with friends, family, facebook and twitter
- A theater room with 3 showtimes each day and 100’s of movies to choose from
- Balconies with great views of the city
- A tour and travel desk with highly knowledgeable staff
- It’s $13 a night and well worth it for the location, hospitality and what’s offered
- To cap it off there is a bar underneath the hostel called Relic with great vibes, music and drink specials
Why was this a great start to my backpacking adventure?
I’ve stayed in hostels before and they were cool. I met some interesting people and had some good times. Luna’s Castle was different somehow. I don’t know if it was the setting, the staff or what…
The days that I was there it was like a big backpacking family. I arrived and quickly met and conversed with most of the people staying there. Next thing I know I’m exploring the city and having lunch and dinner with people I didn’t know half a day ago.
What was really impressive was that as people would leave and as new people came in, it still had that feeling.
New people showing up meshed in just as easily, and we all had a great time.
Even now, weeks later I’m still in touch with some of the friends I made there.
The one thing that was unfortunate was I ripped a pair of shorts right at the crotch in an epic ping pong battle of around the world (hello ladies ;) ). Don’t ask me how it happened. Just some strange mixture of beer, ping-pong, new friends and competition.
A great start like that has definitely carried over during my trip and I feel has opened me up to meeting and spending time with other travelers and backpackers.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this hostel to any backpackers in the area. It’s in beautiful Casco Viejo which is like a 20 minute walk from high towered Panama City itself. Plus the fish market is like only a couple hundred yards away and you know you want some fresh ceviche ;)
Do you have any hostels that you loved and would go back to?