Should Hotels Charge Extra For Double Occupancy?

Filed Under: Hotels

Yesterday I was booking some hotels in Europe and the Middle East, and when I first made a reservation I made a common mistake.

In the US I’m so used to just making reservations for one guest, since the cost for single and double occupancy is almost always the same. However, that’s often not the case in Europe, the Middle East, etc.

For example, booking the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, the single occupancy rate for a night was ~$209:


Meanwhile the double occupancy rate was $236:


In other words, you pay a premium of ~$27 per night for the second guest.

We’re not used to this in the US, and on the surface I’m always kind of miffed when they charge extra for the second guest, since it’s not something I’m used to.

That being said, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. Shouldn’t all hotels charge extra for double occupancy?


Ultimately when you’re paying for a hotel you’re not just paying for the square footage you’re taking up, but also for the public facilities and operating costs. And there’s no denying that on average two guests take up more of those resources than one guest, be it use of gym equipment, the pool, electricity, water, etc.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that hotels switch to a la carte pricing like low cost airlines, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me to charge for a second guest.

Of course the hope isn’t that they keep rates the same and simply add a charge for a second guest, but rather that they lower the base rate and then add a charge for the second guest to balance it out (I realize that’s not usually how it works in practice — I’m being theoretical here).

Anyway, I know this is a bit jumbled, but the more I thought about it, the more I can understand hotels charging for an extra guest.

How about you — are you opposed to hotels charging extra for double occupancy? Theoretically would you rather see hotels lower the cost for single occupancy and charge extra for double occupancy to balance things out, or do you prefer the rate to be the same regardless of whether you have one or two guests?

  1. No it doesn’t make sense because hotel cannot enforce it. You can check in as one person and let another person sneak in. Then, it is not fair to peoplw who paid the price for double occupancy. I think instead, hotel should charge this few based on service (ex.breakfast)

  2. In Japan the price for 2 is usually double the price of 1 person. As a geijin I’m not used to this and always feel like I’m being ripped off.

  3. A hotel should not charge more for 2 occupants. About the only thing you use more of is water, other than that no way. When was the last time a gym was full at any hotel you went to? I travel some 50 nights a year for business and I’m usually the only one in the gym when I go. Pool? Doesn’t cost any more to have 1 person or 100 people in the pool that’s essentially a fixed cost, sure people using the space but it simply should be planned for. Tired of the being nickel and dimed for everything these days. The resort fee is the worst offender, if you want to charge a separate fee for use of the gym or internet then do it but otherwise please no.

  4. this nickel and diming at a park hyatt of all places is pretty sad.
    will they give me a discount since i never use the gym or business center?

  5. Many foreign hotels that charge more for a couple often provide a much smaller room for one person. So sometimes you get what you pay for. I’ve paid the lesser, single rate, several times, and the bed was only large enough for one person.

  6. I thought a lot of the American chains had some policies against this. With that said, I get the idea in theory but the marginal cost of that second guest unless you are including meals is extremely minimal. Washing one extra towel, a little extra water, possibly making one extra bed. Not to mention I am sure there are studies that have shown two people spend more time on a property than one and make up for the additional costs in other ways (food, spa, etc.).

  7. @ steven k — In fairness, this isn’t really “nickel and diming” and has nothing to do with a specific hotel chain. It’s based on location rather than chain, for the most part. There are lots of luxury hotels that charge extra for a second guest.

  8. @Darin – have you thought about additional cost for amenities, linen laundry and other expenses?

  9. When we travel in Europe with our 16 year old daughter (3 in a room) many hotels won’t let us stay and when they do we pay upward of 100 euros extra per night . It’s hard to do a hotel stay with points (3 people) without getting dinged big time . Gotta love the U.S. for hotel stays .

  10. I always found this interesting, too. A few bucks more is one thing, but a lot of resort hotels in Europe (I’m thinking of ski resorts) charge per person, not matter what! So, if the rate is €250 per person per night, the room costs €500 for two people per night or if they’re are three people, it’s €750, even when they’re crammed into the same room. These prices often include board, so I’m not saying it should be the same cost no matter what, but clearly, the marginal cost of each additional guest is not that same!

  11. years ago when I started traveling, Motel 6 chain charged $6 for one person, $7 for two.
    I think it was a way of being able to advertise a lower rate, and then when a couple drove off the highway and came up, they could charge the extra dollar.
    Of course, extra towels, hot water hearing and all, was a cost for 2.

  12. What AdamH said. It’s crazy/stupid to charge extra for that second person. Second person = GREATLY increased chance of ordering overpriced room service, eating in the overpriced (and usually not very good) hotel restaurant, going to a stupid spa to humor the other person, and otherwise being peer pressure’d to spend more money on the property. When you’re solo, the hotel room is just a bed and maybe an internet hotspot. You’re not going to hang around the hotel and spend your money there if you’re by yourself, now are you? Driving away couples is driving away easy profit. It just seems idiotic.

  13. To give you some food for thought… I’m not adverse to staying in hostels when they make sense, but I always stay in a “private” room. Every. Single. Hostel. prices their private rooms “per person” and charges you for two people — twice the cost of one person. I just don’t get it. I mean, a place will say $25/pp, and when you click one traveler, it will come back with “the room sleeps two, you must pay for both beds.” And the second bed is twice the cost of the first bed. It’s bizarre — why don’t they just price per room?

  14. $27 extra per night is justified by extra water and electricity use and another person possibly using the gym? Give me a break dude! This mentality is why companies get away with nickle and diming us for everything these days.

    I always book for just one adult. The first time the check in desk gives me a hard time about booking for one adult and there being two of us is the first time I tell my wife to wait in the lobby or outside the front door while I check in from now on. No way am I paying extra for a second person.

  15. This issue comes in many variations. My view is that I stay away from hotels that do this. Most Intercontinentals in Europe have this policy – strangely not with rewards. IHG has recently , in my view, become deceptive with a second person especially when it comes to rates that include breakfast in Germany hotels.

  16. I think it should be one price for however many people the room will sleep in existing bedding. Two friends and I got a room at Embassy Suites one time that had two queen beds and a pull-out sofa so it could theoretically sleep six. We had to pay an extra person charge for the third person which I found ridiculous.

  17. Yet one more reason to book using points when traveling abroad. I agree w/ a slightly higher charge…with emphasis on the word slightly. With 2 ppl in the room, that’s 2 ppl paying for breakfast. As for the gym, if I go in the morning before work, it can be a fight for a machine…which are generally crap anyways. So, I can see the charge for a 2nd person there. Though some hotels are distinctly in “vacationer” areas, while others are firmly in a business district.

  18. Maybe American hotels already are charging for double occupancy and single travelers are getting ripped off.

  19. “The first time the check in desk gives me a hard time about booking for one adult and there being two of us is the first time I tell my wife to wait in the lobby or outside the front door while I check in from now on. No way am I paying extra for a second person.”

    Wow – @Mike – classy. Do you have a Denmark-based credit card too? What a liar!

  20. When I take a shower, the hotel wants $5 extra. Use the complimentary soaps? $3. TV remote costs $4 a day plus $10 deposit. Bring along the kids for $8 per year of age per kid. Air conditioning is $8, ceiling fan is $3. Want the wifi password? $12 a day. Local calls are $0.88 a minute. Gym is $12, pool is $10, gym and pool is $21. Sauna supplement $3.

    When my niece comes up to my room in the evening for a few hours to share a nice bottle of room service wine privately, the hotel wants a $55 fine.

    Some of those are actual fees I do pay at hotels. Some are so absurd they make people angry when you propose them. They all seem about the same to me. Cheap hotels have free wifi and local calls; expensive ones have free TV remotes and soap and shampoo and body cream and ointments and unguents but charge for calls and wifi.

    Mostly I’d just like to know in advance. Post it on the internet and behind the check in counter so I know what you’re charging me extra for.

    One of the benefits of AirB’n’B is that they’re not jerking me around. The price is listed.

    Anyway, charging extra for two guests is penny wise and pound foolish. Couples spend. Charging for the third in a room is justified because it’s probably some couple’s kid and they can’t very well send the little monster to another hotel to crayon the walls and spill grape juice on the carpets.

  21. Completely agree that extra person charges are often inflated. They also often seem to be an attempt to game booking sites by marketing a single rate and collecting the extra cash at check-in – this has been a persistent problem with IHG properties in Turkey, though oddly not when staying on points. It was enough for me to switch at least one reservation to Hilton…

  22. “Shouldn’t all hotels charge extra for double occupancy?”

    Yes, they should.

    “You can check in as one person and let another person sneak in”

    Damn, that is about as ghetto as you can get.

  23. Assuming the room booking is breakfast inclusive, why wouldn’t you expect to pay more for the 2nd person (since the hotel would need to feed an additional head)?

    Maybe it’s because I’m from Asia but it’s pretty much a given to me that you pay more for 2pax vs 1pax.

  24. See it as a discount for single occupancy and most arguments go out the window…..

    But it’s debatable why occupancy would vary the rate. But it is what it is….it’s more depending on region/country than anything else. Just like why you have to pay extra for an additional driver with a rental (when only one person is actually driving), etc.

  25. So did you mean to book for 1 or 2 people. What happens if you book for 1 but end up meeting someone from a location-based dating app?

  26. What I object to is the ridiculous charges for a third person, a child 12 or over, in much of Europe and other parts of the world. I am fine with a modest extra charge, but charging $80 to $100 for a 12year old just bears no relationship whatsoever to the extra costs. In Portugal over Christmas, a lovely Rick Steves recommended hotel in Evora charged an extra $25 for our teenage daughter but that included a rollaway and a fabulous breakfast. I am totally fine with that type of charge. Hilton in Europe and Japan has been very good to us. This Christmas the Hilton in the Algarve even gave us a connecting room for our daughter along with the full buffet breakfast, for no extra charge, on a points plus cash as a HH gold.

  27. As a European who works in Asia in the hotel industry I am used to seeing charges differ for single and double occupancy. The fact is that if one room checks in as one person, and then sneaks in another, it doesn’t have much impact, but in a 500 room hotel if many guests were doing that then there is a huge financial difference. Even just from a Housekeeping perspective the labour required for servicing a double occupancy room, especially if it is twin beds, is more than single occupancy. If breakfast or Club Lounge access is included then the consumption also needs to be taken into account.

  28. @ Ben S — Wouldn’t the same be true with two vs. three people? Even in the US you mostly can’t do three per room. Just saying…

  29. The only valid reason for charging more for double occupancy is when rate includes a benefit that is per head (ex: breakfast included) and when local regulations require it (some countries, counties, cities collect a tax per resident per night).
    All other justifications like more work to clean, more water used, more electricity and so on are fallacies. A single occupant may take 3 showers in a day, sleep with the light and TV on and leave the room in a desperate state every day requiring massing cleaning. It’s impossible to track the consumption at this detailed level and I doubt hotels would try to. For all these things, the hotel will track consolidated consumption over a period of time and derive the cost per room per day and that’s considered in the base rate. Using this to justify a higher price is a steal.

  30. @Lea – The Embassy Suites includes breakfast and happy hour for all guests. Plus, it costs substantially more to service the suites with more people, so I think extra person charges are totally justified there.

    @Chockito – Agreed

    Whenever single and double occupancy rates that are equivalent, I always book for double, even if I’m traveling alone. You just never know if a friend/colleague might need to stay. There have been a few times when local friends were unable to get back home due to the late hour, and having booked for 2 people made it a non-issue for them to stay with me.

  31. Many years ago, it was common practice for USA hotels also.
    But rooms with 2 beds also typically had a slightly higher rate. Once at a Hilton in DC, I had booked a double bed room since my roommate was traveling with me on this trip. At check-out they had added an “extra person” surcharge. I complained and the clerk gave the obvious explanation of “2 totwels, 2 folks using water etc). I counter argued that I paid for “extra” when I booked a double room instead of single … what did they think was the reason I paid for a 2nd bed ? He removed the charge.

    Today, I think of that every time I see a double room cheaper than a single King. I guess it’s supply and demand instead of number of guests. The internet has changed everything.

  32. What bothers me more is hotels charging more for King room than a twin queen. Explain the logic of that fire me

  33. @joediver,

    That easy “because they can”!

    This is America a hotel or any other company can charge whatever they like.

    For example a fuel surcharge for a flight – how can they do that – the plane is not going to fly without fuel! But they do have fuel surcharges “because they can”,

  34. As a family of four traveling in the US we always get a room with two queen beds. Same price whether it is one or four people. As we prepare to spend a month in Europe we are finding it impossible to find any hotels that will even accommodate four people and if I try to use award points from Hyatt, Hilton or IHG they won’t even give me an option for four people. Makes for a VERY expensive trip.

  35. As a solo traveller, I can only wish…very hard!…for single rates in hotels! I would also love to get a credit for NOT having included breakfast. It’s just SO unhealthy.

  36. No way! The marginal cost is piddly, and it’s insulting to charge for it. Plus it smells like they will have more reason to know about the identity of your guest. I generally use points overseas, so double occupancy is priced the same, unless there’s a “city fee” per guest.

  37. @Lucky — Hotel loyalty programs often include a free second guest benefit. Hilton HHonors, for example, offers this perk even at the base Blue level.

  38. I do not appreciate resorts, that charge per person, charging me as a single plus another 50% of the double occupancy rate. Where is the justification for me paying more since I use less towels, etc… other than greed on the part of the resort?

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *