In the United States, so-called extra guest policies—and whether additional fees are charged for these overnight guests—vary from hotel to hotel (owner to owner) and sometimes from city to city, county to county, or state to state. One universal, however, is that in the U.S., there are fire and occupancy codes that hotels must follow to keep their guests safe, as well as to preserve their insurance and the business itself.
To a hotel, an overnight guest represents a potential safety issue and an amenities issue; overnight sleeping guests are presumed to be using not only the bed and bedding, but also the water, towels, soaps, and other amenities such as the free breakfast, wifi, and possibly even the gym/spa or others.
Can a so-called “extra guest” sleep in your hotel room? Veteran hospitality professionals told us, before you register, ask the hotel what their extra-guest policies and fees are and if they charge by the room or person. Then, follow those policies, which enhance your safety. Some hotels are stringent about levying fines/fees for “sneaking in” an extra person or five (you’re liable for them), and they might blacklist you on future visits.
Hotel Guest Basics
When you register to stay at a hotel, they generally require identification for at least one registered, of-age adult occupant. Outside the United States, this process could involve providing your passport.
Furthermore, “Over the last twenty years, most [U.S.] hotels have made the transition to charging the same rate for one or two adults. Add a third adult (not too many hotels charge extra for children), and the rate goes up five to fifteen bucks per additional person, up to the number of people for whom occupancy of that room is limited (we really don’t like to see more than two people per bed, plus one if you get a rollaway),” according to a Quora poster with Beechmont Hotels Corp. (Source).
Other hospitality experts who answered that same query agreed that generally U.S. hotel rooms are assumed to be double occupancy and charge per room rather than per person (at least up to a certain limit, usually related to occupancy rules). Identification might or might not be required for the second adult.
Besides charging a different fee, there are a few different reasons for the hotel to know how many people are in your group:
- There are fire codes and occupancy limits for every hotel in total and for each room. Room limits are often posted in the rooms themselves, with the front door facing your living area being the most common poster location.
- If there is an emergency such as fire or a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, etc., the hotel has to communicate accurately with first responders about how many guests are in the hotel.
- Knowing the number of guests and having their identification ensures the hotel can protect you if you experience a theft or a neighboring room does damage to the hotel or simply is loud/disruptive.
- Accurately and truthfully reporting the number of guests also benefits you in that the hotel can make sure you have enough beds and bedding, amenities such as towels and toiletries, and free breakfast or other guest privileges. Also, if a registered adult is locked out, the hotel will be able to provide a key back into said room.
- You will be liable for damage that any guest, even a short overnight guest, does to the room or hotel proper.
Many sources told me that upper-end/pricier hotels (in particular) still employ receptionists whose only duty is to monitor extra guests being surreptitiously brought in.
If you think you’re pulling one over on the receptionist, the many security cameras, hotel housekeeping, or the undercover security staff, you could be mistaken.
I’m risk-averse. Maybe you’re not. All the information here is to help you make an informed decision before you register for a hotel stay that is, I hope, pleasant and relaxing or adventurous and meaningful.
Now let’s look at some of the major players in the hotelier market, with particular attention to U.S. locations.
Hotel Guest-Policy Specifics
Wyndham’s motto is “We champion the everyday traveler.” It’s no wonder they say that: They boast a whopping ~9,000 hotels worldwide in 90 countries, with approximately 804,000 rooms and about 6,000 different owners (Source).
That patchwork of owners could make for a plethora of policies. Indeed, Wyndham itself owns a number of chains including Travelodge, Super 8, Days Inn, Microtel by Wyndham, and LaQuinta.
From what we could ascertain, Wyndham advises customers to contact the individual Wyndham property to find out their extra overnight-guest policies.
In addition, Wyndham’s Days Inn properties would like to know if you are traveling with children: “When making a reservation, please make sure to indicate the number of adults as well as the number of children when prompted. Additionally, include the number of children and their ages in the ‘special requests’ during your reservation process” (Source).
A little side note. Here at Sleep Flawless, I’ve written before about hotel mattresses, sheets, and pillows.
Although hotels don’t always divulge precisely what mattresses or bedding they use, some do actually sell their own proprietary brands; you can find what I hope is a handy table of where to find different hotels’ bedding and accessories, including Wyndham and Hilton, in this article.
Hilton’s 18-strong portfolio of brands includes DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Canopy, Waldorf Astoria, and Hampton Inn. It holds “more than 6,300 properties and more than one million rooms, in 118 countries and territories” (Source).
This hotelier plans to open new locations in 2021 such as Resorts World Las Vegas (recalling the Las Vegas Hilton) and Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club in Orange County, California (Source).
One Hilton property that does disclose its extra guest policy is the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk (HFSH), in Japan. Its house regulations state “Please refrain from inviting outside visitors to your guest room after 10 p.m.” (Source).
HFSH’s house regulations also note the conditions under which they can refuse guest accommodations.
Hilton overall has stated reservation rules and restrictions as follows: “Rates confirmed are for the number of occupants listed in your e-mail confirmation, per room, per night and do not include additional charges for rollaway beds or extra people and will apply only to rooms booked as part of this reservation” [highlights are mine, for emphasis] (Source).
Again, I personally would not risk running afoul of their policies, which, as aforementioned seem to indicate they frown on having overnight guests staying in your room.
Direct any specific questions to the exact Hilton property in which you’re staying. They’re super-easy to reach toll-free at 1-800-HILTONS.
Or make your reservations directly with Hilton online (Source).
Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which does business as Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, is a hospitality company with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, that both manages and franchises luxury hotels, business hotels, vacation properties, and (as the name implies) resorts.
“Where Can Hyatt Take You?” is the guiding principle of this multinational group comprising 20 brands that include Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Alila, and Caption by Hyatt.
Hyatt’s fact sheet indicates that, “As of September 30, 2020, the Company’s portfolio included more than 950 hotel, all-inclusive, and wellness resort properties in 67 countries across six continents. The Company’s purpose [is] to care for people so they can be their best . . .” (Source).
When it comes to extra (overnight) guests at the various Hyatt properties, it is best to call or book ahead online, as they do not seem to explicitly state whether extra overnight guests are allowed.
By the way, I tried playing with reservations on Trip Advisor at a Hyatt property—the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, Hyatt Regency—and the maximum number of adults they allowed per room before it automatically bumped up to 2 rooms is 4 adults (I used the default of 0 children).
Note well also that a practice said to be on the books for at least some of Hyatt’s properties (like the Regency O’Hare in Chicago) is “to enter every occupied guest room at a minimum of once within a 24-hour period, even if a guest has requested privacy” to ensure the welfare and safety of guests and colleagues (Source).
For Hyatt reservation assistance in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean:
Marriott International Inc. (Marriott Bonvoy) is a hotelier with a portfolio of 30 brands (7,000-plus properties in 131 countries and territories), such as the Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, Sheraton, Renaissance Hotels, Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, and Fairfield (Source).
It is difficult to say at the time you’ll be reading this where exactly the on-the-move Marriott will stand with regard to extra-person fees, particularly with regard to these fees for children.
For years, Marriott and Marriott Bonvoy have been embroiled in “erroneously charging” these fees regardless of whether there are adult guests or children accompanying parents, to the tune of hundreds extra per night (Source).
In talking to The Points Guy (TPG) in 2019 about across-the-board free stays for children, a Marriott representative said, “There isn’t just one [policy], as far as I can tell. It is a business decision that each hotel or resort controls, so they are the best source of information.”
The St. Regis New York, a Marriott property, for example, allows “a maximum of one extra bed . . . in select rooms for a fee.”
Its stated family plan policy also assumes children or teens will sleep in existing beds or else “Rollaway beds and cribs may incur extra charges” (Source).
Anecdotally, a user named Natasha Clark who works at a SpringHill Suites by Marriott noted on Quora that “For the most part the hotels I have worked in like to know the number of people in a room because of safety reasons” (Source).
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IHG, or InterContinental Hotels Group plc, is a British multinational hospitality company with 5,900+ hotels and resorts in about 100 countries across the globe. This hotel group includes the following subsidiaries (Source):
- Holiday Inn
- Holiday Inn Express
- Crowne Plaza
- Candlewood Suites
I urge you to use the IHG keywords for U.S. hotels and explore them to see what rates apply to your party (as a way of determining how overnight unregistered and registered guests are viewed).
For an iron-clad answer about whether guests can stay with you at an IHG property, contact the individual hotel directly; you can also find out to see if they charge per head or per room and what amenities are included in the charges.
You can do mock reservations at the prior link or here as well.
Alternatively, call the IHG customer care line if you need help, at 1-877-424-2449.
Hotel policies on visitors or extra-guests, especially if they are staying overnight, are as diverse as the hotels and countries in which they operate. What one Hilton in Juneau allows, another in Jerusalem or Japan might not.
If you expect it to be an issue, check on the overnight-guest policy prior to reserving either online or by telephone—with the exact hotel where you expect to stay.
If your guests are quiet and law-abiding and don’t eat the free breakfast or use the shower/toiletries (sometimes housekeeping staff count toothbrushes!), you MIGHT be able to sneak them in, but you also could be caught by one of many security cameras or staff and incur extra fees anyway.
For me, I’d err on the side of caution and do my best to follow whatever occupancy rules the hotel has established. The Points Guy concurs, writing “I would not mess around with occupancy numbers at all when traveling internationally [i.e., outside the U.S.].”
Regardless of house policies where you stay, I wish you safe and happy travels and restful sleep wherever you may be. Bon voyage!