Before booking any accommodation, younger travelers should be aware of any minimum-age requirement for renting a hotel room before planning the rest of their trip. While most institutions have a minimum-age requirement for renting a hotel room of around 18 years of age, the bottom line is that there really is no standard. To ensure all trip plans go accordingly, young people should be proactive in checking on age restrictions before securing a reservation.
Age Requirements Vary
Different states in the U.S. have their own rules regarding minimum-age requirements for renting hotel rooms. And individual hotels also vary in regard to how strict or lenient they are with allowing underage guests.
In general, the minimum-age requirement to reserve a hotel room is 18, with some locations in the U.S. allowing guests to be as young as 16, while others require guests to be at least 21. Because people under 18 years of age are considered minors, many hotels do not want to be liable in case of a problem.
The 21-and-over requirement is at each hotel's discretion, but expect this minimum in major party cities where there are many bars and casinos on the hotel premises. These might include places like Las Vegas, Miami and New York City. Again, the rules vary from one hotel to another, so always call to ask before making a reservation.
Exceptions to the Age Requirement
Some hotels will make exceptions to the minimum-age requirement depending on the case. If parents or legal guardians put the reservation under their name and credit card, then some hotels might be okay with the actual guests being younger than 18 and without the presence of a guardian.
Also, if one of the guests is not an 18-year-old but is traveling with someone older than 18 (in some cases 21), then it's usually allowed too. That being said, hotels have a responsibility to know who is coming in and out of their premises, so travelers should never expect that the concierge won't ask questions.
To be absolutely sure what a hotel's age requirements are as well as specific check-in requirements, the best thing to do is call the hotel. Don't rely solely on website information. Call the hotel and speak to the concierge. Ask what the age requirement is, what it entails and what's required to complete the reservation. Almost all hotels will ask for a credit card to secure the reservation along with a valid government-issued ID.
Hotel Age Requirements Abroad
Other countries around the world have different requirements for making hotel reservations than the United States. In Canada, Mexico and Europe, the requirements are more or less the same as the United States, but again, it depends on the hotel. Other regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia or South America, might be more lenient. And, if you’re staying at hostels, there’s generally a lower legal age requirement. Sometimes the age limit is for 17-year-olds or the age policies follow whatever the age of majority is in that country.
How Minors Can Travel
In today's world, many kids under the age of 18 travel by themselves. This is no longer a rare instance. Sometimes, after high school, teenagers go backpacking through Europe with their friends, and it's possible that none of them have yet turned 18. Luckily, there are ways to navigate this. Some hotels that have a minimum-age requirement might simply ask for a note of permission from a legal guardian to turn in at the front desk. Others simply won't ask, possibly because they don't have a specific policy or because they are not allowed to discriminate against guests based on their age. Check the hotel policies on the hotel’s website before going, as each specific hotel and hotel chain is different.
Just as a hotel is not allowed to discriminate based on gender, race, ethnicity and religion, hotels are also not allowed to discriminate based on age. Hotels use a variety of criteria to determine if the guest who made the reservation is allowed to stay in the hotel.
A hotel cannot downright ask guests how old they are; however, they can ask to see ID upon check-in and enforce their policies if need be. It is not unheard of for minors to simply book rooms and not be asked anything thereafter, as long as they act appropriately upon check-in. That being said, it never hurts to stay in a hotel that wants to protect minors.
Ultimately, remember that each hotel has its own rules, and responsible guests who are minors, or parents of minors, should always call a hotel before making a reservation. At the end of the day, it's important that minors are safe no matter where they stay, and each hotel will use its discretion to make the right decision for itself and for its guests.