In the vast majority of cases, in the USA, Europe, and worldwide, hotels will charge you per room you book, not per person.
This is because you are paying for the right to occupy the room, regardless of how many people will be staying in the room.
However, hotels have maximum occupancy limits to prevent guests from paying for one room and having several people staying in it.
Not only would this be very bad for business, but it would be against legal and safety regulations, such as fire safety regulations and local building and zoning codes.
Hotels also need to factor in other additional costs that are associated with extra guests, such as extra towels, linens, toiletries, and the additional work housekeeping will do.
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When You Might Be Charged Per Person Instead of Per Room
There are certain scenarios where you might be charged per person instead of per room.
- Resorts with All-Inclusive Packages: Some resorts, especially those in the Caribbean and Mexico, offer all-inclusive packages where guests pay per person.
- European Bed and Breakfasts: In some European countries, especially those with a strong bed-and-breakfast culture like the UK and Ireland, you are more likely to be charged per person.
- Capsule Hotels: Capsule hotels, known for their compact sleeping capsules, typically charge per person.
- Japanese Hotels: It is common for hotels in Japan, especially ryokans and onsens, to charge per person instead of per room due to the meals and access to communal baths and other amenities as part of the booking.
Maximum Occupancy Limits
Most hotels have a maximum occupancy limit for each room, which can range from:
- Single Room: 1 guest with one bed
- Double Room: 2 guests with one or more beds
- Twin Room: 2 guests with two separate beds
- Triple Room: 3 guests, often with an extra bed or a larger room layout
- Quad Room or Family Room: 4 guests, often with two queen or double beds or additional sleeping space
- Suite: Can vary from 2 to 6 guests or even more, with larger rooms or multi-room accommodations with a separate living area, bedroom(s), and sometimes a kitchenette
- Presidential Suite: Can vary widely based on the suite’s size and features. If you exceed this limit, the hotel may charge you extra for each additional guest.
Will a Hotel Know if You Have an Extra Person?
Hotels can easily find out if you have an extra person or two in the room.
The most obvious way would be when you check in, the person at the desk counts how many people are checking-in.
A less obvious, sneaky way that hotels can find out if an extra person is staying in the room is to ask housekeeping to count the number of toothbrushes in the bathroom.
What Happens if You Exceed the Maximum Occupancy Rate
If you exceed the maximum occupancy rate of the hotel room you book and are caught, one of three things may happen:
- The hotel will require you book an extra room, which may or may not be at a reduced rate.
- The hotel will ask you to pay a higher rate for the room than you are currently paying.
- The hotel won’t do anything, and you therefore won’t be charged extra.
In all cases, it’s extremely unlikely that you will be asked to leave, unless you really try to take advantage and book a room designed for two people but have 10 people staying in it.
Additionally, if you exceed the maximum occupancy for the hotel room, this inevitably means that extra guests who are not part of the booking will receive limited amenities, such as complimentary breakfast, pool access, or fitness center usage.
How to Find Out if a Hotel Will Charge for an Extra Person
There are a few ways to find out if a hotel will charge for an extra person in your room.
- Visit the hotel’s official website where you should see detailed information about their room types, occupancy limits, and any additional charges for extra guests.
- If the hotel’s website doesn’t provide clear information about extra person charges, call or email the hotel directly.
- Read online reviews on travel websites or forums, as this can offer insight from other guests who have stayed at the same hotel about extra person charges or policies related to additional guests.
- When booking, pay attention to any prompts or questions related to the number of guests staying in the room. The booking platform may display additional charges if you exceed the room’s maximum occupancy.
- If you’re traveling with children, ask about the hotel’s policy. Some hotels will allow children under a certain age to stay in the same room without counting them toward the maximum occupancy. This is usually under 18 for major American hotel chains, but can only be under the age of 12 for others.
How to Avoid the Extra Person Charge
The best way of avoiding the extra person charge at hotels is to understand the hotel’s policies, do your research, and plan accordingly.
- Check the hotel’s policy in advance regarding maximum occupancy and extra person charges.
- Book the right room type to ensure that it can accommodate the number of guests in your party.
- Be honest about the number of guests to prevent any additional costs during your stay.
- Use the existing beds in your room instead of requesting rollaway beds or cots, as these may incur additional charges.
- If you’re traveling with a larger group or family, consider booking a suite or family room because this can work out cheaper.
- Before booking, read reviews from other travelers who have stayed at the hotel, as this can provide insights into how strictly the hotel enforces occupancy limits.
- If you frequently stay at a particular hotel chain, consider joining their loyalty program, as you may receive benefits like waived extra person charges or complimentary room upgrades.
- Finally, you can just take the risk if not telling the hotel about the number of guests in your room.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).