Tips to get the most out of travel while you're young
We've all been there and know how frustrating it can be to be denied a room because we don't satisfy a hotel's minimum age requirement. The key to getting the most out of travel is to plan your trip in advance by selecting hotels that will accept you at the check-in counter.
Q. How old do I have to be to check in to a hotel?
A. If you just turned 18 years old or are slightly older, you're in luck – it's nearly impossible to check in to a U.S. hotel if you're a minor. This is for two reasons: First, contracts signed by minors can't be enforced by the hotel, putting the hotel at risk if an underage customer doesn't foot the bill. Second, the hotel can be held legally responsible if something happens to underage customers during their stay. Although hotel, hostel and Airbnb policies vary significantly in the U.S., imposing a minimum age requirement of 18 years is a near-universal practice.
In addition, some hotels – especially those in "party cities" – may enforce a higher minimum age requirement. This might be for many reasons, but typically it's because the hotel either has mini-bars in every room or prefers to have a more responsible, low-key environment. If you are under 21 years old, make sure to check the minimum age requirement of the hotel to confirm you can book one of their rooms.
Q. What about minimum age requirements for hotels in Florida, New York City and Las Vegas?
A. Minimum age requirements in these regions vary but tend to be more stringent. In Las Vegas especially, where hotels may have casinos and gaming laws are strictly enforced, the minimum age requirement is typically 21 years or older. Cities in Florida may have even higher age restrictions because of their reputation as "party cities" or popular spring break destinations. For instance, several hotels and resorts in Key West, Florida, have a minimum age requirement of 25 years or older to book a room. In addition, guests under the age of 25 might be asked to leave the premises if they aren't accompanied by someone over 25 years old. Minimum age requirements in New York City vary considerably by hotel and location, so it's best to call the front desk or browse the hotel's website beforehand to make sure you fulfill their age requirements.
Q. Are there any exceptions if I'm a minor?
A. Unfortunately, exceptions made by hotels if you're under their age requirement are rare because of the legal reasons mentioned previously. Generally, you'll need to be accompanied by someone who fulfills the age requirement to reserve a room. The best you can do is to scope alternative lodging – such as bed-and-breakfasts, hostels and guesthouses – to see if they cater to younger guests.
In the most dire circumstances, you might be able to negotiate a room if you're underage. If you choose this route of last resort, make sure to discuss your situation with a hotel representative and have written permission from an adult.