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What does it mean "the rate is for 2 guests" does it mean multiply by 2 the advertised hotel rate?

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It means the $ value shown is for two guests (that is two people are allowed in the room).

Often hotels apply a surcharge if extra people are wanting to share a room.

However, since you've not specified the site, I'll also mention that sometimes it means you can't have less. For example, a twin dorm in a hostel often requires you book both beds. So you can't have less than two people in the booking - ie the booking is for the whole room, and the 'rate is for 2 guests', in this case.

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    What's a "twin dorm"? As somebody who has worked in a hostel for twelve years and used them frequently for 25 years I've always distinguished between a double room, a twin room, and a dorm. – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 13:40
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    Clarification: You can book a double room with only one person, but you will still pay the rate for two. Usually some flexibility if the rate includes meals which will not be eaten. – Paul Jan 13 '15 at 13:40
  • More clarification: If you are booking for more than two people, the site will probably default to booking a number of rooms based on two per room plus one more room if there's an odd number of people. If you are three or more people and want one large room together then you may have to contact the hotel directly or search the website to see if it supports such options. – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 13:42
  • @hippietrail I've seen it before, and google seems to think that is a thing too. But basically I was just trying to distinguish from a double (same bed) and in a hostel. So a private twin room, really - ie you have to pay for the whole room. – Mark Mayo Jan 13 '15 at 13:43
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    @MarkMayo: Ah OK yes some hostels also allow two people not travelling together to share a twin room and have different check in and check out dates, but we don't do it since people already have enough trouble with the terms "twin" and "double". You wouldn't believe how many times two dudes book a double room or married couples book a twin room. We also had a lot of trouble with people arguing over who paid and who was behind since the booking software didn't cover both ways a twin room could be used in a straightforward way. Or some receptionists were too stupid (-; – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 13:46
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In Japan, unlike most of the world, you pay per person, not per room, for most hotels.

So for instance, if I travel alone on business to a hotel, it will be ¥6,000/night/person (assuming two guests). If I actually try to reserve it for one person, it will likely be a little bit more (maybe ¥6,500/night) for the exact same room. This does not make sense at all, but it's the way the system works.

Take this search:

Hotel Page

The rate shown is per person (4,000円〜/1名), but assumes double occupancy. If you actually go through and change the number of guests to one (you need to sign up for an account and read some Japanese) you will end up getting a somewhat different price most of the time.

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