Perla Real Inn, Contadora, Pearl Islands, Panama

We visited the Perla Real Inn, an upmarket bed and breakfast hotel on Contadora Island in Panama, some 15 minute walk from the airport that is served by both Air Panama and Aeroperlas.

We stayed at this small, six room bed and breakfast in March 2008 and were impressed. The air conditioned rooms were clean, smart and stylish. The communal courtyard area where food was served was particularly pleasant. Breakfast was a simple affair of fruit, juice, cereal, bread and eggs. About every other day, the current manager, Piero, cooks dinner for the Perla Real guests in addition to others who want to visit - this is undoubtedly the best restaurant on Contadora Island.

The best beaches on Contadora Island are about a 7 to 10 minute walk from the Perla Real, and there is one restaurant within a 7 minute walk (at Villa Romantica Hotel ) plus a few more restaurants within a 15 to 20 minute walk. The Perla Real’s only real drawback is that you have to walk to get to anything, but this isn’t a big problem as golf carts can be hired by guests for $35 a day. In addition, it’s easy enough to hitch a lift with the friendly locals or other tourists if you’re feeling lazy.

Overall the Perla Real is a good option for almost everyone, with the possible exception of families with very young children or the very elderly - groups who might be averse to walking to places. Compared to the other hotels on Contadora Island and elsewhere in the Pearl Islands, the Perla Real suited us best. The nearest competition to the hotel is the Contadora Island Inn, which is located almost next door, is less expensive, but the rooms are not as pleasant and that bed and breakfast feels more like a converted house rather than a hotel.

The Perla Real website -

For reviews and advice on all the hotels on Contadora and in the Pearl Islands, see the Pearl Islands travel guide or see the Panama travel guide for extensive advice on travel throughout Panama .

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