Some Hotels Aren’t Good At Measuring…

Filed Under: Hotels

The point of this post isn’t at all to pick on a specific hotel, but rather to see how you guys feel about how hotels advertise the size of their rooms. For real estate, there are strict guidelines about what can be advertised as part of a house’s square footage. You can also advertise outdoor space or whatever separately, but that doesn’t count towards the actual square footage of the house (at least based on my research).

However, I’ve had a couple of hotel stays lately that have left me wondering about how hotels are measuring their rooms. Sure, it’s human nature to add a couple of inches or subtract a few pounds, but that shouldn’t apply to hotel rooms.

For example (I’m not meaning to pick on this hotel, because my stay was fantastic, and the problem isn’t exclusively at this property), I just wrapped up a stay at the W Punta de Mita, and the room I was in was advertised as being 637 square feet. That’s huge, and about the size I’d expect for a junior suite.


However, when we arrived, we found a (lovely) room that was no bigger than a standard room in most other places. I’d estimate it maybe had an interior space of 400 square feet. Maybe. There wasn’t even a sitting area, but perhaps that’s more W styling than a function of space. 😉

W-Hotel-Punta-De-Mita - 6


My guess is that they were including the exterior space in the square footage, as the room had a beautiful outdoor area in the front, and then another balcony in the back. But typically (in a house or any other hotel) you’d expect that to be in addition to the advertised square footage, and not part of it.



For example, I recently stayed at the W South Beach, which (I think correctly) advertises the square footage, and then in addition to that says there’s a 100 square foot balcony.


Speaking of which, the supposedly 564 square foot room at the W South Beach felt significantly bigger.



Like I said, I had a fantastic stay, and the W Punta de Mita isn’t the only hotel to do this — tons of hotels exaggerate the square footage of rooms. However, you’d think there would be some consistency as to how they advertise, because on some level it’s false advertising.

When hotels advertise room square footage, do you assume it to be interior space, or is advertising exterior space fair game?

  1. With a hotel, I assume that the advertised square footage should be the interior space. Misleading.

    As an aside, in some markets, real estate can also use a more generous standard. For example, houses might be advertised with 4000 sq feet of “built up area”, which means the 4000 includes outdoor balconies, garage space, and the like. Which might mean it’s more like 3000 sq feet of interior space (real example).

  2. Do you know the room was a normal one for the category you booked? If it wasn’t a funny one (which I’m sure you checked via the room map posted to show emergency exits), the it is clearly fraudulent.

  3. W hotels in general look like children’s bedrooms and the ones that look More luxurious still look like form over function

  4. I agree with other posters that this is fraud and is an area that enough blogger attention to the problem should put an end to it.

  5. The St Regis Bali was guilty of this. Can’t remember exactly what they advertised the room size as but it definitely included the (very large) outdoor space and plunge pool.

  6. so many hotels in SE asia are guilty of this. Lots of hotels in Thailand and Bali will advertise rooms as being ~1500 sqft but 800sqft of that is the outdoor area including private pool etc.

  7. I stayed at the Naka Island resort and they list their lowest category room at 3767 sq ft. They have a huge pool/garden area then a separate outdoor shower/bathtub area. Either way, i was happy the extra space was actually outdoors

  8. Well if you really wanted to be picky you could travel with a measuring tape. I actually did that once but not to measure hotel rooms – I did it in case the size of my new roller board bag was challenged at airport check in. It never hurts to be ready for a fight.

  9. Maybe the hotels follow the advertisement rules of the country they are in.
    For instance, in Brazil, the advertised square footage should include balconies and any built area that is attached to the main area.

    Perhaps, this is also the case in Mexico.

  10. It may be cultural. I know in some countries in Latin America the area of an apartment for sale includes the area of the garage spaces for the cars and balcony. Yes, parking spaces are usually underground but they belong to the apartment and when you sell the property that counts on the size.

  11. I can’t say I’ve ever thought about whether I’m getting the advertised square footage of my hotel room.. but I guess I’ve also never been surprised at how small my room is.

  12. I think if they state a size like 475 square feet they should say that it includes an outside area of 125 square feet. But where do you draw the line do they have to state 240 for the bedroom 120 for the bathroom and 60 for the hall. I have stayed in some small rooms which were great and felt larger and some huge rooms that were so poorly designed and laid out they were useless.

  13. For what it’s worth, cruise lines almost always include balcony space in their total square footage listing.

  14. The screenshot shows a 2 double beds room but your photo clearly shows a king room. If your reservation is in fact for the Wonderful Double Beds then it seems to me you actually got a different room type than you reserve. In some hotels, King bed room is smaller than a 2 Double Beds room due to the additional space two beds are taking.

  15. The cruise industry has done this forever. They always include balcony space in the square footage. It’s not “fraud”. You’re simply paying for the square footage available to you.

  16. That room looks terrible for the price by the way. One of the best examples of when “W style” goes very bad

  17. It’s also cultural – here in Asia the interior square footage is just the external dimensions of the said space, whereas in the US the custom is to calculate the actual usable internal space. This seems to be the rule for real estate/property, at least in my experience.

  18. In many countries, for example in SE Asia, outdoor space is counted in full in any size given for real estate purchases – or hotels for that matter, and perfectly legal. In other countries, for example Germany, for real estate outdoor space is counted at half the size. So, if you travel internationally, you’ll have to live with the local rules.
    While it may not be fraudulent, it would still be more appropriate to specify the indoor/outdoor space as the one example does.

  19. Agree with @Adrian that this may well follow local market practice – in Hong Kong for example marketed sq footage includes the apartment’s share of usable public areas such as corridors and elevators!

    Having said that, an international chain hotel has an obligation to enforce usable and clear category standards across their properties otherwise what’s the point of staying with them? I would be asking for an explanation if not ultimately a discount.

  20. Do you find this to be an SPG only thing or across the board? I recently stayed at the Vana Belle in Koh Samui – which has a stated square footage of 928 sqft on their basic room. Each room includes a private pool area, and it was very obvious when you walked in that the hotel included that outdoor space in the square footage of the room. All that aside – I knew what I was getting when I booked the room and was in no way disappointed, but still…seems a bit misleading…

  21. I just experienced this at Garza Blanca Preserve Resort in Puerta Vallarta. The description for their Junior Suite states that it is 985 sq feet. However, the interior square footage is probably between 500-600 square feet. I have a good sense for that size, because I live in a small craftsman house and my main floor is 700 square feet. When I spoke with the hotel, they insisted that the room was 985 sq feet as stated. Looking back at the floor plan included in the room description, my guess is that they are including the balcony and the “foyer” in the square footage. While I would have appreciated more detail on the breakdown of the room versus the balcony, I think including the foyer in the size calculation is false advertising and definitely misleading. This “foyer” was not private at all,shared with the travelers next door, and accessible to anyone who hopped off the elevator. No reasonable person would have expected the non-private entrance to their hotel room to be included in the size calculation.

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