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I've been in Morocco nearly a month, and it will soon be time for my return. During my stay here, checking into hotel rooms hasn't been an issue, but businesses aren't nearly as lenient about that sort of thing in America. I have a day layover in Newark, and I'm trying to figure out whether it's possible for me to stay at one of the hotels nearby. I'm 17 years old, and my birthday is only 16 days after the time I'd need the room. Are exceptions ever made in situations like these?

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"17 is the age of majority in New York State". Are you sure? I don't think that's true. –  nibot Jul 5 '12 at 0:04
    
@DJClayworth That is definitely not true. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 5 '12 at 11:30
    
Oops. It seems I confused "minor" with "juvenile". –  DJClayworth Jul 5 '12 at 13:09
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Best answer is probably - legally: yes. Realistically: no.

You're signing a contract that you agree to pay for damages, beer from the minibar, etc, and as a minor, you can't legally enter into a contract.

So legally they could 'let you', but it's highly unlikely that they'd want to expose themselves to a risk like that.

From this page on hotel liability:

Hotels may generally evict a guest and keep the room rental payment, despite the EVICTION, for the following reasons:

Disorderly conduct
Nonpayment
Using the premises for an unlawful purpose or act
Bringing property onto the premises that may be dangerous to others
Failing to register as a guest
Using FALSE PRETENSES to obtain accommodations
*Being a minor unaccompanied by an adult registered guest* <========= this one
Violating federal, state, or local hotel laws or regulations
Violating a conspicuously posted hotel or motel rule
Failing to vacate a room at the agreed checkout time

This page on Minimum Age Requirements for Renting Hotel Rooms may also prove to be of interest. It seems the one "loophole" you might have is for a parent to write a letter of consent and provide a security deposit in advance. But I'd contact them first to check.

Otherwise, you may just need to resort to "couchsurfing" - although I can't officially condone that, as couchsurfing.org requires that you be 18 to use its service...

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I suppose you are perfectly right in your assumption, but I wonder if American rules are that different from European/British ones. If they aren't, then it should be possible for the boy to book himself in a hostel. –  Paola Jul 4 '12 at 14:45
    
hostels would be the same as hotels, you're entering into an agreement. However I agree, I suspect if anyone would, a hostel would be more likely to take him in. –  Mark Mayo Jul 4 '12 at 16:44
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Typically this is explicitly disallowed. However, in the U.S. one is typically only required to present a credit card (but no photo ID) in order to check in. If you have a credit card in your name, and as long as you don't look super-young, you might have no problems at all.

If you want to pay cash -- it probably won't work.

If you have a credit card, it's worth trying.

Or you could stay at a hotel where you never have to interact with a human in order to check in, such as Yotel NYC.

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Whether you need to present Photo ID actually varies widely by state, as well as by the local policy of any given hotel or hotel chain. I stay in a lot of Hotels, all over the US, and I'd say I get asked for Photo ID roughly 50% of the time. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 4 '12 at 18:17
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+1 for the Yotel idea...although from their T&C - "1. You confirm that you are at least 16 years of age for reservations at Gatwick or Heathrow and 18 years of age for reservations at Schiphol or New York. All reservations are personal to you and may not be sold, assigned or otherwise transferred. All children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 or over. YOTEL operates in accordance with local licensing laws.". Of course, if you're willing to risk it... –  Mark Mayo Jul 4 '12 at 18:28
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On doing a bit more research, both NJ and NY do seem to require ID at check in. Rate of compliance varies wildly however. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jul 4 '12 at 19:41
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I've stayed in dozens (probably over a hundred) hotels in the US, and I've always been asked for ID when checking in. I've never had them explicitly check my date of birth, but (for better or worse!) I do look a little over 18 years old... –  Doc Jul 5 '12 at 2:26
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Both of my children have had issues renting hotel rooms in Canada - the US has similar rules - while under 21. Twice my youngest was stranded far from home with a credit card and the hotel had a policy forbidding him to rent a room. One place called us, and with our consent allowed it, the other (further away) did not but let him and his friends hang out in the lobby for 3 hours while his father drove there to get him. I redeemed an award stay for my oldest and made special arrangements in advance that it would be ok even though she was a few days shy of 21, and they still attempted to turn her away, but when I called the manager it was allowed. Both kids had credit cards in their own names.

This is worth checking out in advance. Call or email hotels and try to get it settled and booked in advance.

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