Too many choices can be overwhelming, at least on a restaurant menu or in a clothing store. But having lots of choices when it comes to booking a hotel room is a good thing. Get exactly what you want without paying more for beds, space and extras you don't need. Sometimes, those extras – like more seating room and an in-room kitchen – make a hotel room feel a little more like home. An efficiency room is generally outfitted with those extras, making it a perfect fit for some travelers.
What's an Efficiency Room?
First, a caveat: hotel room types aren't standardized, so what one hotel calls an efficiency room may look very different from what the hotel next door considers an efficiency. Furthermore, what one hotel calls an efficiency room can look exactly like what another hotel calls an extended-stay room.
Generally, however, efficiency rooms are more like studio apartments than standard hotel rooms. In addition to the basic features, like beds and a bathroom, efficiencies have at least some kitchen elements. Some have full kitchens, including full-size refrigerators and ovens, while others have kitchenettes with smaller appliances and no oven. The kitchen is stocked with dishes, silverware and some other basic cooking supplies, but no food is provided.
Because it's expected that guests will prepare food in efficiency rooms, they usually include at least a small dining table and a few chairs. Sometimes these rooms also have a little more entertaining space than a standard hotel room does.
Should I Book an Efficiency?
Hotels normally charge more for efficiency rooms than they charge for rooms of equal size that lack kitchen features, so it may be one of the pricier rooms in the building. But one of the big perks about staying in an efficiency is the ability to prepare your own food, which can be significantly cheaper than buying meals in restaurants. For travelers who buy ingredients from a local grocery store or bring them from home, paying extra for an efficiency could ultimately prove more affordable than staying in a standard room.
These rooms are ideal for families traveling with young children or travelers with allergies or other dietary restrictions who prefer to prepare their own food over eating at a restaurant. They're also comfortable for travelers on long vacations. Remember, what some hotels call an efficiency room is a lot like a typical room in an extended-stay hotel: it's designed to provide the comforts of home for people who have to stay for more than a few nights.
Staying in an efficiency room is also useful when visiting an area with limited restaurant options, or when your daily travel plans mean you'll need to eat meals at odd times.
What Should I Bring?
Hoping to whip up your usual breakfast smoothies in the hotel room? A blender may or may not be provided. Some efficiencies have very basic kitchenettes with no bells and whistles, while others are stocked with all the equipment found in a gourmet kitchen. Contact hotel management to ask about what's included in the kitchen before leaving home. Pack some basic shelf-stable foods and supplies such as coffee grounds, tea bags, oatmeal packets and canned soups to prepare in the room. Frozen meals are also handy for a stay in an efficiency room.
For travelers with young children, a hotel kitchen poses some safety risks. Buy a travel baby-proofing kit or bring cabinet latches, an oven lock and other baby-proofing basics from home.