somewhat related to "Can a hotel kick you out if you let an unregistered guest share a room with you?":

In the, alas, completely hypothetical scenario where I'm out in a foreign town and just happen to meet someone, I wonder whether it would be acceptable to take them with me to my (single occupancy) hotel room. I'd expect that to differ a lot in different countries.

Always booking double rooms isn't a solution, since good things happen only when you don't expect them.

  • It may depend a lot on if you're in a country which requires registration of hotel guests or not
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 16:55
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    I think it's less about etiquette and more about hotel rules, sometimes about laws. In very religious but secular places I suppose there might not be a law but it might not be acceptable - I'm still not sure if that would qualify as etiquette though? Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 17:22
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    I believe some hotels don't look kindly on it because they are concerned that guests might be partying too hard or even hiring prostitutes and somehow make a bad impression on other customers.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 23:54
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    Practically speaking in the Western world, are hotel staff really that observant and knowledgeable about each and every one of their guests? Do they really know each guests' face and room type? The exception here are hotels that require you to drop off your key at reception whenever you leave, but besides that, as long as you and your unexpected guest don't draw attention to yourselves and you don't have someone different every night, surely you're unlikely to be bothered? I suppose this question is about proper etiquette.
    – Sam
    Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 1:42
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    Annoyed/Sam: Most hotel bars have resident prostitutes, who security is very familiar with, and rest assured they'll notice when a guest picks one up. They're unlikely to stop them, but they may well tip reception that there are now two guests in the room. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


Actual practice varies widely by country, but there are (at least) four reasons why hotels frown on having more guests in a room than you originally told them.

  1. Fire code. Hotels and rooms are rated for maximum occupancy: if they get busted for having two people in a room for one, or (worse) 101 guests in a hotel rated for 100, there are serious legal penalties (for the hotel) in many countries.
  2. Profit. A room for two usually costs more than a room for one, even when it's actually the same physical room. If you sneak two people into your single room, they've lost out on extra income, and obviously the beancounters don't like this.
  3. Registration requirements. Many countries require that all foreign nationals staying in hotels have to be registered, and it may be a violation of the law to have unregistered guests. (Not necessarily applicable if your newfound friend is a local, although a few particularly paranoid countries register all hotel guests.)
  4. Laws prohibiting cohabitation. Not much of a problem in the West anymore, but in eg. much of the Middle East, having two unrelated and unsupervised people of the opposite sex in the same room may be a crime (khalwat, "proximity"), even if you're not getting down and dirty.

The correct thing to do etiquettewise, then, is to book a room for two in advance, but unless you're sure you're getting lucky, this is often impractical.

The practical (but somewhat embarrassing) thing to do is to request an upgrade at the counter, at which point they can also register your guest. In places like Thailand, where rent-a-dates and sex tourism is big business, hotels either impose "guest fees" for overnight visitors, or (at the lower end) explicitly market themselves a "guest-friendly"; as far as I know, in Bangkok there's precisely one hotel which proclaims itself a "bastion of wholesome tourism" and bans overnight guests, and has achieved minor notoriety as a result!

But if you're stuck in some Atlanta-like institution, eg. Japanese business hotels where "single" really means "single" and you'd have to get another room, you could just do like us international uni students in the dorms did, and sneak your dates in via the fire escape, undetected by the beady eyes of the night security guard at the main entrance, and hope the good vibes balance out the bad karma.

Or, if you're not as skift as as exchange student and are actually in Japan (or most anywhere in Asia, really), you could go rent a love hotel and get a circular bed, mirrors on the ceiling, and bondage Hello Kitty watching over you.

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    +1 for sneaking in, but watch out to see if the fire escape has an alarm system. Commented Dec 7, 2013 at 14:06
  • There is a term for the "Love Hotel" but I can't repeat it here.
    – Karlson
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 21:41
  • The Suk-11 in Bangkok also bans guests-of-guests: I saw one poor girl who had to sit at the table outside for 30 minutes, with the security guard and the desk clerk and the other guests eying her, while her new-found boyfriend went up to his room (for a change of clothing I assume). How this is more "wholesome" than letting two adults do what they like in their own room, I cannot say. Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 2:59
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    @jpatokal You sound like you'd be a welcome contributor at the Etiquette proposal when it moves to beta :) Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 16:40
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    In places with "guest fees", are they more than the difference between hiring a room for one person and hiring a room for two people? (I believe the technical term would be "bargaining power")
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 11:26

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