I've booked a stay in a hotel at our local Crystal Mountain resort and noticed a peculiar message:

All guests must be 21 or accompanied by a legal guardian.

Why would a hotel not allow someone who's 18 year old to check into the room? In theory, someone who's 21 years of age is not supposed to stay in this room with their 20 year old boyfriend?

Note that this hotel is a part of a ski resort, so there's no gambling involved. The rooms are very basic and don't seem to include alcohol in the minibar. There's a restaurant that serves alcohol at the ski resort but they check your ID there and don't care if you're a guest of the hotel. So what could be a possible explanation?

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    Businesses can choose who they want to deal with. At a guess I'd say they're avoiding possible trouble from rebellious teenagers. You'd have to ask the hotel. Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 21:41
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    @GaspodetheIndomitable I'll ask them soon and post an answer :-)
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 21:51
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    Similarly many car rentals have set their minimum age at 25. It's probably based on their experiences, risk tolerance and the like.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 21:51
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    The phrasing raises another question: Do 18 to 20 year olds even have a "legal guardian"? They're adults, and, unless they're suffering from certain mental conditions, their own masters. Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 11:09
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    21 is the legal age for drinking in the US, I feel it is just about that. Not allowing younger people in does stop them from having minors (for drinking) using alcohol on the premises.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


If someone who works for a hotel knows, I'll yield. But I'd guess that it's because they know from experience that people under 21 are more likely to have wild parties that annoy other guests, or trash the room, or fail to pay, or generally are difficult customers.

In the US. businesses are generally free to decide who they want to do business with, as long as they don't discriminate on the basis of certain reasons where it's specifically forbidden by law, like they can't refuse to do business with people based on race or sex.

I suppose from the way that rule is worded, "21 or accompanied by a legal guardian", if a married couple came to the hotel and, say, the wife is 23 and the husband is 20, they'd allow the wife to stay but not the husband. A wife is not her husband's "legal guardian". (Despite the fact that my wife often said that I was a child who needed her to take care of me.) I suspect in such a case the hotel would simply ignore the rule, but I'd certainly check before booking a reservation in such a case.

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    Note that it's prohibited under US federal law to discriminate against someone on the basis that they're over 40. But young people are not a protected class the way older people are. Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 21:51
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    @MichaelSeifert Yes, quite true. eeoc.gov/age-discrimination if someone wants a citation. To the best of my knowledge, this only applies to discrimination in employment. Like in this example, if a hotel took a reverse policy and said that they won't rent rooms to people over 60, I don't think that would be illegal. But if they refused to hire you as a desk clerk because you're over 60, you could invoke this law. Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 22:04
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    In this Canada is very different: It is a discriminatory practice in the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation customarily available to the general public (a) to deny, or to deny access to, any such good, service, facility or accommodation to any individual, or (b) to differentiate adversely in relation to any individual, on a prohibited ground of discrimination. (age is one of them)
    – user4188
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 10:27
  • @chx auto insurers are (apparently) allowed to use age in their pricing formula, so much like the US there are probably exceptions.
    – eps
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 16:39
  • @chx I'd guess (hope) that there are exceptions to that. Like I'd think that businesses would be allowed to say that a certain product is potentially dangerous and they won't sell to 10 year olds. Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 15:32

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