What Constitutes A Hotel Suite?

Filed Under: Hotels

This is more intended to be a general topic of conversation than specific to one hotel.

The way hotels name rooms never ceases to amaze me. For example, what exactly is a deluxe room? Or a superior room? Or a classic room? Or an executive room? These are all room types which mean different things to different hotels. When a hotel’s base room is a superior room, what exactly is it superior to?

In theory suites are often a bit more consistent… in theory. You have junior suites and then you have suites. I’ve asked in the past about what ultimately differentiates a junior suite from a regular suite. My interpretation has always been that a “full” suite has two separate rooms (a living room and a bedroom with a door or some “substantial” partition between them), while a junior suite has some sort of “living quarters” without being completely separated from the bedroom area.

Which brings me to the SLS Beverly Hills, which is a hotel I quite like. It’s great that it belongs to Starwood, because you can earn and redeem points and get elite benefits, but the hotel is still unique. It’s not a “cookie cutter” Westin.

So I used a Platinum Suite Night Award to confirm an upgrade to a “Balcony Suite.”


Here’s what the balcony suite looks like:





First of all, I don’t usually travel with a ruler, but I’d be hard pressed to believe it’s 600-700 square feet. Then again, I suppose adding a couple of units of measurement is a socially acceptable practice… does it really matter if we’re talking about two inches or 200 square feet? 😉

Anyway, the only furniture that this room has which a standard room doesn’t are the two seats by the window.


Interestingly the Studio Suite at this hotel (which you’d think would be smaller) actually has a partitioned off seating area… yet that’s only advertised as being 500 square feet.




Bottom line

Again, this isn’t at all a complaint, because I do really like the room, and it is especially nice having a balcony (even if it’s small and doesn’t have furniture), since it’s otherwise tough to get any fresh air at rooms in this hotel.

But getting this room did remind me of how inconsistent hotel room naming can be.

Is the SLS Balcony Suite actually a suite, in your opinion? Forgetting the difference between a junior suite and a “full” suite, how do you even define a suite in general?

  1. LOL on the inches … But seriously, there’s just no way that can be a full suite, and definitely not 600-700 sq ft. That would be a very decent-sized one-bedroom apartment, and that’s definitely bigger than this room, which I think it would be a stretch to even call junior suite.

  2. Here is the Websters dictionary definition of “suite”:

    “a group of rooms in a hotel that is used by one person, couple, family, etc.”

    So, as far as I am concerned, if it does not have more than one fully separate room (excluding the bathroom), it’s not a suite. And if it’s not a suite but is advertised as such, it’s false advertising.

    This is one of my biggest hotel peeves. The number of rooms should be obvious from the room description on the website, but usually it isn’t.

  3. Its a jr. suite, but I do agree suites arent the same as they used to be. My experience most hotels in LA always calls smaller rooms bigger then they are. Im curious how many times have you been upgraded this year to suite or higher? And how many times did you ask? My point is certain brands take care of elites better then others?

  4. The initials of the suite says all – BS

    It is a real pet peeve of mine, and something I get royally cheesed at. It’s one thing if it’s a space available complimentar upgrade, but if you are using Hyatt Confirmed Suite Upgrades, it’s BS all right (I hear the PH Vendome in Paris is a big offender in this way)

  5. The balcony=200 sqft.

    I never knew the difference between a junior suite and a full suite, and ironically I am in a “Junior Suite” right now in Le Meridian Barça and this suite included a living area and a bedroom seperated by a door.

  6. Agree with snic. A suite has two rooms separated by a door. Period. Tossing a couch or some bonus chairs into a big room ain’t a suite.

  7. The balcony suites at the intercontinental that they give to ambassadors totally puts that room to shame. Just saying

  8. So what exactly is the appeal of this hotel for you, Ben? It looks like they forgot to put half the furniture in the living area. Two little armchairs that look like they were stolen from the restaurant downstairs. They should have at least stolen a table lamp from the bar for that table-ette in between. What a comfortable place to sit and read a book. Not. I’m all for minimalism, but it’s not working here. And prepaid rates starting at $729?

  9. I agree with others who say that hotels sometimes include a balcony in their square footage measurements.

    SPG SNAs only entitle you to a junior suite, which often is just slightly better than a standard room. SPG Platinums are entitled to the best available room at check in including standard suites. If I’m using a SNA, I always ask for a full suite at check in. Sometimes they will move me from the junior suite that they reserved for me.

    The answer to your question is a suite is anything the hotel says it is. I don’t have a definition of a suite, but I know one when I see one. Your room ain’t a suite.

  10. I book suites when I want to have a room to sleep in, that I can close off, and then a separate area where I can meet with colleagues, discuss the day of work, plan the next day, and so forth. So that’s not a suite. I would ask for my certificate back.

  11. What a shame I did not see you there – I just checked out of this place after staying there twice in the past two weeks. I now flying back Lufthansa to Frankfurt, First Class of course 😉 (by the way, the Gold lounge is much more convincing than the First Class Lounge next door, but anyway…). Would have loved to invite you to their fabulous “Ultimate Gin Tonic”..! 🙂

    However, I am not the biggest fan of this hotel, the rooms were so dark, all a bit unreal and not really practical. Got a lot of noise these past days – was that you..??!
    The pool experience was horrible, too many people and basically no place to swim. Though SPG Gold, both times I did not get any room upgrade, first time I booked the Premier, second time Superior. There basically was no difference between these two categories, except one lamp… And they basically looked just like your “suite”.

    If you want really spacious rooms (that size-wise actually are suites!), book the L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills: I stayed there as well over the last weekend and was blown away from the sophisticated style, and it’s very quiet and elegant. It’s right around the corner on Burton Way, and much more convincing as a luxury hotel. Still, the SLS has its charms thanks to fantastic food at Bazaar.

  12. It aint a suite.
    This is one of my biggest pet peeves as well. As a family of 4, i typically always try to reserve suites when i can. After getting rooms like this too often, i now try to look up more reviews or even call the hotel when booking if its not clear. Sometimes on hotel websites, what looks like two separate rooms, is really just good photography. I have complained every time and will usually get free breakfast, drinks, or something which is typically already included because of status. Sometimes they will discount the room to a normal room rate, which is appreciated but doesn’t make up the fact its not really a suite.
    What also make me mad is when a suite doesn’t have a pull out sofa in the extra room. One time we got upgraded to the presidential suite at the Hilton Hawaii Village. It was amazing and huge with 5 balconies, but it only had bedding for 2. They ended up throwing in the attached junior suite, which slept 6 by itself.

  13. @ Jay Jay — Hah, sorry I missed you. Had one of the “ultimate G&Ts” last night!

    And I promise the noise wasn’t me!

  14. @ travel4b — Heh, I’d never pay retail price for it, but I do find it quirky and really like the location. Frankly there’s a lack of good chain hotels in the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills area, so it’s between the SLS and the Andaz for me.

  15. @ Ivan — For what it’s worth the balcony is really small. Nowhere close to 200 square feet.

  16. We encountered the opposite at a Pullman. A junior suite which was more a proper suite (seperate bedroom). Odd that they would undersell themselves.

  17. Glad I’m not the only one to find the term “junior suite” an oxymoron and a regularly used piece of hotel flim-flammery marketing speak (it’s either a suite or it ain’t – junior suites are just an oversized room).

    I think SLS are claiming the balcony as the extra room for suite purposes (more flim-flammery!), which is rather ridiculous. Why can’t hotels just have truth in advertising – don’t over promise and then under deliver. Things don’t need to be hyped beyond what’s on offer.

    I think the extent of this practice is why I don’t chase hotel stays like I do flight experiences (don’t get me wrong, airlines stray into this habit too, just generally not as hard as hotels do), it kills the will too much.

  18. A suite is a series of rooms connected together. Webster does not say that a series have to be a particular type of room. (i.e. must be a bed room, sitting room, den, etc.) By the definition, it includes all the rooms and as long as it is at least two rooms of any type connected together, it is considered a suite. All the rooms are consider living space. So, a room in a home, hotel, bed & breakfast, etc is considered a suite if it is a bedroom with an attached bathroom according to the definition. With that said, the tourist industry in a particular country my expand the definition of a suite to establish a set standard across the industry in that country. A suite may mean something different from country to country and how it is enforced may also be different. I my opinion, in a bed and breakfast for example, if a bedROOM has an attached bathROOM, it can be considered a suite because not all bedROOM are required to have an attached bathROOM in a Bed and Breakfast.

  19. Continuing my comment, the same can apply to a hotel. I have stayed in a hotel (for that country, a hotel is an accommodation with 10 or more rooms), but they had an external shared bathroom. Well, in that country, it is still considered a hotel. All you need is 10 rooms. With that, the room does not even have to have a window.. In this example, if the owner provides you a room that has in attached bathroom or an attached TV room, then it can by definition be considered a suite. Travelers must understand that every country is different and that some standards may only be a guide for the accommodation industry of the country you are visiting. Just because a room does not have a lounge area, TV room, and an office space with a total size of 700SF does not mean it is not a suite (according to the Webster). A suite just has to have two connecting rooms, and those rooms can be used for any purpose and may or may not have to conform to a particular standard of one country or another.

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