Much like trying to book airplane seats next to each other, finding connecting rooms at hotels isn’t as easy as it should be.
Families or groups with five or more people are often forced to stay in rooms that are several doors, or several floors, apart. But with a few plan-ahead tips, travelers can ensure that those connecting rooms they want are actually provided to them.
To start, guests should be aware of the hotel lingo used for connecting rooms. According to Gilberto Garcia-Tunon, the general manager of Yotel Miami, a new property in the city’s downtown district that was intentionally built with four connecting rooms on most floors, hotels don’t universally use the word "connecting."
Instead, hotels often use the term "adjoining rooms" to refer to two independent units that are connected by interior doors, Garcia-Tunon said. These doors remain locked to guests unless a connecting room is requested. Once unlocked, guests can pass between the rooms without a key.
The term "adjacent rooms" refers to ones that are near to each other, but are not connected by a door. If a hotel says it can offer adjacent rooms, this means it will put your rooms as close together as possible, but you'll have to use the public corridor to get between them. Each room will also have its own key card.
Guests should be aware that all hotels have a limited quantity of these linked rooms. Usually, less than 10 percent of a hotel’s total room count can be connected. This is especially true amongst city hotels and historic hotels or other older properties which didn’t account for interior doors at the time of construction.
So even if you request adjoining rooms, hotels can’t always accommodate it.
When considering where to stay, boutique and independent hotels may offer a more authentic experience, but large resorts and extended-stay brands such as Residence Inn, Embassy Suites, Hyatt House, and Hampton Inn will likely have been constructed with more adjoining rooms, giving more options for larger families.
"Most hotels can always guarantee adjacent rooms," said Garcia-Tunon, "but not always adjoining rooms."
The availability of adjoining rooms often depends on availability at the day of check-in, he explained. Therefore, hotel managers need to know about requests as early as possible so they can make the allocation.
When making a reservation, guests who need connecting rooms should add a comment in the notes or special requests section of their reservation for multiple rooms.
It’s recommended to follow up on the booking with a phone call to the property to ensure the request was received.
One hotel brand thankfully makes it easy to book connecting rooms online with no follow-ups needed. Hilton Hotels' online booking system offers a "Confirmed Connecting Rooms" option on its website and its mobile app. Depending on the property, guests can reserve connecting Hilton rooms at the time of booking without additional hassle.
If you’re a family traveling with young children or babies, you may not even require a connecting room. Most hotels don’t count children under 12 as adults. So if the maximum capacity limit for a room is four adults but you can have two adults and three toddlers, you might be able to fit everyone in one room. It will depend on the hotel and how big the rooms are.
Many family-focused hotels are specifically designed to squeeze in more people, and at those, you may not even need connecting rooms. Disney-run hotels in Orlando and Anaheim, for example, are set up to maximize space for families with pull-out couches, bunk beds, and Murphy beds.
Couldn’t a guest just lie and say that there’s only four people checking into the room and then sneak the fifth (or sixth) person in when the front desk isn’t looking? Sure, many people do. Some even smuggle their own air mattresses in.
But there are laws governing occupancy. Hotel room limits are set by a city’s fire department, and squeezing extra people in can be dangerous in an emergency. The hotel could penalize you for having too many people by adding additional costs or requiring you to add a second room, even if it's down the hall. In dramatic cases, it could even evict you.
The good news is that hotel developers and brands are aware that more families and groups are traveling these days. Newer hotels, including Garcia-Tunon's Yotel in Miami, tend to have more options for adjoining rooms as well as suites that can sleep five or more people.
So when you’re browsing for places to stay, refine your choices to newer hotels that can accommodate your group.