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PUSH – The Love Motels of Panama

Push” is the slang in Panama for a ‘push button’ motel, also known as a love motel. I drove by several of these since coming to Panama, thinking they were large storage facilities. Then one day, I became curious about the loving names and symbols on their signs and decided to check one out.

Love motel in Panama

Love motel in Panama


From the outside, there are lines of garage doors that look similar to a storage facility. The one I visited had 40 doors and about 1/3 of them were closed in the middle of the day. I was about 10 minutes outside of the city of David. There are 2 others in this area, but I chose this one because it looks like a fantasy castle and a bit more interesting.

Love motel in Panama


Privacy seems to be the number one concern at these establishments. As soon as you pull your car off the PanAm Highway, you become hidden behind the walls. Then you drive down the road until you see an open garage door. They were all painted differently and my guess is that they have different themes. Pull inside an open garage, PUSH (hence the name) the button, and the garage door closes so no one knows you’re there. Prices are posted on some of the rooms inside the garage, so you can pick one you like. Most of the rooms I saw were around $5/hour, usually with a 3 hour minimum. Once inside the garage, there is a slot to stick the money through and the attendant returns a key to you once you make payment. You can then enter the room. Very discreet!

Love motel in Panama


Unlike most guests, probably, I quizzed the people running the joint and was told I could have a room for the entire night for $35. Not a bad deal for what you get. A pretty decent hotel room, actually! The room I entered was immaculate. It had a cowboy/western theme. Queen sized bed, clean bathroom with fresh towels, a TV (didn’t check to see what was playing!), a desk, hammock, mirrors, and …Okay – I’m not familiar with the contraption that came in the room but it looked like it had some interesting possibilities. There were typical hotel toiletries like shampoo, etc. with the addition of a condom. The room had A/C and there was a menu on the wall to call and order room service. They place your order outside the room so you are never seen by the attendants. Again, confidentiality is clearly of high importance at these establishments.

Love motel in Panama


So, what’s the point of these ‘Love Motels’? Get your mind out of the gutter! Okay, being that prostitution is legal in Panama, this may be a place to take a trick for a short encounter. I’m sure there are more than a few illicit affairs going on behind these walls as well. However, extended families are very common in Panama and sometimes a married couple may be in need of some privacy from the rest of the family. The PUSH I visited was clean and cheap and may be worth a future visit, just for a change of pace and adding a little spice to a long term marriage.


Debbie FishellDebbie Fishell is the current Escape Artist Ambassador for Panama. Debbie grew up in Hawaii, married her current husband and they moved to the Northern Mariana Islands to start a charter boat operation, which still operates there today. This began her life as a serial entrepreneur and perpetual student of life. Real estate investment has been a passion for the past 30+ years, and includes dozens of rehabs, rental investments, and small land development projects. Debbie and her husband, Patrick, now live in Panama. Through Escape Artist, Debbie is excited about sharing what she is learning through her own experiences in Panama as well as those of other expats that she meets. 

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