Summer break is approaching – the skies are clearer and the days are warmer – you might find yourself daydreaming about a holiday getaway in the sun. Maybe you’re looking to travel with a group of friends, maybe this is a collective first vacation without parents for you all – if this is the case, it’s best to find out which hotels allow 18-year-olds to check in, and take these tips from us to heart in your vacation this summer.
Do I have to be 21 to book a hotel?
For many hotels across the country, 21 is the minimum age to book and check into a hotel.
However, we have some good news for those of you finishing high school and looking to spend the summer with some friends. Despite the 21-year-old standard, a lot of hotels also allow 18-year-olds to book and check in. The minimum age can rarely be pushed beyond 18 though, so for those young souls suffering a heavy case of wanderlust, stay put! It will be your turn soon.
Why the minimum age policy?
This might come as a surprise, but the minimum age policy is not actually official for booking and check-in, but most hotels set their own restrictions to protect themselves from risk and liability.
Given that age restrictions are not reinforced nationwide, there are inconsistencies when it comes to the minimum age for booking and checking in at individual hotels.
For example, with an international chain like IHG with multiple brands, their policies around age will vary across countries, sometimes states, and even between hotels in the same city. In cases like this, the management of specific hotels usually has the final say in whether 18-year-olds will be allowed to book and check in.
Age is not just a number, though. You may find that in some hotels, the age restriction is to ensure financial and booking security – adults with independent financial assets are less likely to break financial contracts than young adults with little to no financial independence.
So, hotels also consider the ability of guests to consciously enter legally binding contracts with them when setting their age restrictions.
Another reason behind the minimum age policy is often the provision of alcohol in hotel rooms at each property. Some hotels have alcoholic drinks available in those minibars tucked away under a cupboard in the rooms.
In this case, age restrictions will likely follow the legal drinking age and other alcohol-related laws specific to that state.
Now that you’re familiar with the minimum age policy and the basic factors that play into it, here are some tips our young travelers should keep in mind when planning for a holiday this summer:
1. Call Ahead
As age restrictions are so variable from one hotel to another, it is best to contact the hotel directly to figure out their exact policy to avoid any disappointments or delays in your holiday.
Calling the reception will get you the clearest answer, of course, but we don’t always feel like talking on the phone. Don’t worry – most hotel groups will have online consultation services available on their websites or an email address you can send your questions to.
2. Cash or Card?
Most hotels require you to have a card when making a booking or checking in, this can usually be a credit or debit card. Cash payments are sometimes accepted. Once again, there is no universal policy for all hotels in the country, so it’s best to check the hotel’s website to see what form of payment they accept.
Most hotels will have this information listed under a ‘Payment’, ‘Payment Methods’, or ‘General Information’ tab on their websites. On the same page, you can also find details about what type of card they accept, whether check payments are allowed, etc.
3. Permission from Adults?
Whilst some hotels allow 18-year-olds to book and check into their properties, some may require further documents to grant you entry.
The most common form required is written permission from your parent or guardian, which you usually have to present at the counter when checking in at the hotel. This is to ensure that any legal actions or commitments you as a guest will enter with the hotel when you book/check-in are mediated by an adult who is legally permitted to do so.
4. Destination fees?
When booking a hotel, you may sometimes find an added charge named ‘Destination Fees’ in the total amount you have to pay.
Typically, Destination Fees cover the services, room amenities, and facilities the hotel provides for its guests. This may include catered meals, swimming pools, gyms, spas, etc. Destination Fees are normally applied to each night of your stay, so be sure to check your final total if you would rather not pay this extra fee.
5. Bring Your ID
This may sound obvious, but the most common mistake people make when traveling is forgetting their IDs! Especially when you are traveling within the country where your passport will not be in use, many forget to bring a valid photo ID for checking into the hotel they have booked to stay in for their vacation.
The type of ID accepted by each hotel may be different, but usually, a driver’s license or passport will do. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check with the hotel through their website or by calling them.
So… Which hotels allow 18-year-olds to check in?
Luckily, there are multiple options available for you to choose from across the country. We have put together a handy List of Hotels That Allow 18-Year-Olds to Check In below:
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts has various locations across the US and many allow 18-year-olds to book and check into their properties.
The Hyatt Grand Central in New York, for example, also allows payment to be made under a different name from the person booking the rooms. All you need to do is for the card holder to fill out and submit a credit card authorization form, which can be accessed from their website.
The Marriot website states that the minimum check-in age for their all-inclusive resorts is 18 or above, whilst other types of their hotels are strictly available for reservations only to those 21 or over.
If you are looking into staying with a hotel under Marriot, it’s best to ask the property directly what their regulations are.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Most hotels by Hilton located in the states of New York and California allow 18-year-olds to book and check into their properties. Many of their other locations, however, do not. So, it is important to double-check the check-in requirements for the hotel group as well as the individual hotel you are planning on staying in.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts
In their policies, Best Western states that you must be at least 18 to book a room at their establishments. But this doesn’t necessarily apply to all their hotels.
Double-check if you are also authorized to make the booking on their Booking Conditions and get in touch with the specific hotel to see if you are allowed to enter if none in your group is above 18.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
Information about check-in requirements and age restrictions are harder to locate online from the Four Seasons websites. This usually suggests that the variation between each hotel in the group is too wide to be categorized and explained. We would definitely recommend you contact the individual Four Seasons establishment to check if they accept 18-year-olds to check in.
IHG Hotels & Resorts
The brands in this chain, including Hotel Indigo, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express, have various restrictions when it comes to age requirements for booking and checking in.
For example, Hotel Indigo in Downtown LA, InterContinental in Times Square, New York, and San Francisco all accept bookings made by 18-year-olds, given you can provide a government or state-issued photo ID upon check-in, which can be a valid passport or US driver’s license.
From the list we have given, it seems you are better off sticking to ‘no-brainer’ options like international hotel chains and groups. Most of these hotels will have detailed information about check-in and booking requirements that are easy to locate on the internet, and their contact information will also be available.
Of course, these chains may be a little pricier when compared to a local or family-run hostel or small hotels. But the same principles apply: do your research and don’t be afraid to ask the hotel directly about policies you should be aware of when booking and staying with them.
These two points are crucial – as even big hotel chains may refuse booking and entry to 18-year-olds. From the examples we have given above, the pattern seems to be that the hotels in popular destinations and big cities, like New York, Los Angeles, and other cities in California, are more likely to allow 18-year-olds to check in. If you are traveling to a lesser-known tourist spot, be sure to contact your hotel of choice.
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