How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Hotel Room In California: 2023 Guide

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When planning a trip with my young brother, I wondered how old do you have to be to get a hotel room in California. After some research, I learned that you must generally be 18 years old to book and check into a hotel room in California. However, some hotels may have stricter age policies in place.

In this article, I will discuss the key details around underage hotel policies in California, the statewide minimum age requirement for getting a hotel room, and tips for underage travelers to ensure a smooth hotel check-in among others.

By outlining the age policies, exceptions, and booking tips, my goal is to inform young travelers in California to understand what is required for reserving hotel accommodations. I aim to help teens and families plan trips accordingly and prevent issues resulting from age restrictions.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Hotel Room In California

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Hotel Room In California?

When traveling as a teenager or under 18 in California, you need to know hotel room age requirements. This guide outlined key age policies to inform young travelers as they booked accommodations. While most hotels enforced a minimum age of 18, some exceptions did apply.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Hotel Room?
  • Statewide requirement: You had to be at least 18 to book and check into a hotel room. This is the standard age rule enforced at most California hotels.
  • Stricter hotel policies: Certain hotels required you to be 21 or older, while others maintained 18 as their minimum age. The specific age requirement depended on the room type you booked, your age, and the hotel’s policy.
  • Confirm reservations: You best reviewed the hotel’s policy before making a reservation to ensure you met the age requirements and avoided confusion.

Willa Carson
The minimum age to book a hotel room in California is 18, but hotels could have a higher age requirement. As a traveler, I always advise to research the hotel’s policy before reserving to ensure a smooth and enjoyable stay. Willa Carson, Traveler and Senior Writer at Happywayfarrer

Minimum Age Requirement for Different Types of Rooms

I realized hotel age requirements varied by room type. This guide outlined key policies for underage guests booking accommodations:

Minimum Age Requirement for Different Types of Rooms
  • Statewide rooms: The minimum age requirement is 18 for most standard rooms.
  • Suites & premium rooms: Some hotels have a higher minimum age requirement, and guests have to be 21+ to book multi-room suites or luxury accommodations, even if basic rooms only need 18.
  • Bed configurations: The age restriction sometimes depends on the bedding. Hotels might require you to be 21+ for rooms with doubles, while singles are 18+.
Additional Tip: Check the hotel’s specific age requirements per type before booking any room. Rules aren’t always posted online – sometimes, you have to call the hotel directly and ask.

Willa Carson
Age requirements started at 18 years old for standard rooms in California but could increase to 21+ for suites, premium tiers, and certain bed set-ups. The minimum age for booking a hotel room varies depending on the room type. Checking a hotel’s specific policies is key for underage guests to ensure a smooth stay. Willa Carson, Traveler and Senior Writer at Happywayfarrer

Necessary Documents For Renting A Hotel Room At 18

When checking in to California hotels at age 18, my brother learned having the right documents on hand was essential. This ensured him met proof of age and identification requirements.

Necessary Documents For Renting A Hotel Room At 18
  • Valid photo ID: You needed a current driver’s license or state-issued ID card showing your date of birth and legal name.
  • Backup ID: Some hotels wanted additional government-issued ID if your license seemed questionable, so you also carried your passport and student ID.
  • Cash/ valid credit card: You had to show the front desk a credit or debit card in your name to cover charges and incidentals. Cash or prepaid gift cards generally didn’t suffice.
  • Rental agreement: For under 21 guests, a few hotels make the sign contracts stipulating no alcohol or banned services since you wasn’t of legal drinking age. The legal guardian sometimes have to be authorized.

By having proper ID, payment, and documentation, you avoid hassles renting hotel rooms at 18 in California. The required credentials ensured you met age laws and hotel policies.

Truly loving something can be articulated by the lyrics from the song ‘Hotel California’: ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’ Oblivious Anu Vaidyanathan

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Renting A Hotel Room At 18

As an 18-year-old traveler, you want a smooth hotel check-in. I want to share with you my experience that you can avoid issues related to age restrictions:

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Renting A Hotel Room At 18
  • Incorrect ID: Attempting to show expired licenses or using a poor fake ID could prompt legal action. Please always correctly prove your age.
  • Skipping research: Failing to review age policies meant risking disruption if rules were stricter than expected on arrival. You should always check ahead.
  • No credit card: Without an active card my brother in his name, some hotel staff would deny check-in or charge hefty cash deposits he couldn’t pay.
  • Room overbooking: I advise you carefully not to book larger suites or premium rooms that have higher age requirements you wouldn’t meet.
  • Violating contracts: Please avoid punishments like early checkout fees by not breaking banning rules if you signed special rental agreements.

My brother researched age policies thoroughly, provided valid ID and payment, complied with rules, and only booked rooms appropriate to the age limit. And I want to tell you that he didn’t run into any problems.

Tips for Finding Hotels With Low Age Restrictions

California state law does not specify a minimum age to rent a hotel or motel room. Age requirements are set at the discretion of each establishment. Many hotels require guests to be 18 years old to check in. Some allow minors accompanied by a legal guardian, often with certain restrictions. Here are some tips you can use to find hotels.

Tips for Finding Hotels With Low Age Restrictions
  • Chain hotels: Hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt allow younger guests to rent rooms. Their policies are typically consistent.
  • Review reservations: When booking online, see if the website asks for your birth date or displays minimum age alerts. This signals rules may be strict.
  • Call the front desk: Speaking directly to hotel staff is the best way to ask about underage policies and room options. I clarify my age before making a deposit.
  • Major cities: Hotels in popular areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco often host student group trips and are sometimes more lax with underage guests.
  • Ask for paperwork: If a hotel rents to 18-year-olds, I request they email confirmation of a policy allowing this and any conditional rental forms.
  • Student & youth hotels: Properties catering to student groups, hostels, and younger crowds often have flexible age policies that accommodate 18-year-olds.
Note: Doing thorough research helped my brother identify hotels welcoming younger hotel guests. We used tips like checking reservation systems, calling my host, reading the state’s laws, and requesting age policy documents.

Can Minors Stay in a Hotel in California Alone?

The answer to age restrictions and whether minors can stay alone in a hotel room is not simple. There are some exceptions to the matter. Many hotels require guests to be accountable to any damages and liabilities. In my experience, I encountered the following conditions in the matter.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Hotel Room In California. Can Minors Stay in a Hotel in California Alone?
  • General age restrictions: When I was under 18, I learned that minors cannot check into a hotel room in California alone without an accompanying parent or guardian present who booked the reservation. Hotels require an adult present due to safety and liability concerns.
  • Organized group exceptions: Sometimes, hotels made exceptions for me to check in without adult supervision if I was part of an approved student group trip or event. However, waivers, permissions, chaperone assignments, and other protocols had to be pre-arranged.
  • Adult signatory requirements: For standard leisure reservations, I found that major hotel brands require an adult who booked the room to be physically present and responsible for the minor like myself for the full stay duration. They are financially and legally accountable.

The general rule my brother encountered was that minors cannot stay overnight alone in a hotel room in California without in-person adult guardianship. However, exceptions applied to him as an underage guest if certain group or authorization conditions were met. Guest well-being was the top priority in all policies.

And if California slides into the ocean, as the mystics and statistics say it will, I predict this hotel will be standing until I’ve paid my bill. Warren Zevon

Booking a Hotel Room as an Underage Guest

Since my brother was below the minimum age requirement, these were the alternative options for booking a hotel room availed to him by the staff.

1. You Have to Be Accompanied by an Adult

Most hotels allow minors to reserve and share rooms when accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other chaperone who is over 21.

You Have to Be Accompanied by an Adult
  • Valid Identification: The accompanying adult must book the reservation, provide their identification, credit card, and contact details, and sign any paperwork.
  • Legal responsibility: They are legally responsible for the room charges, any damages, and supervising the underage guests.
  • Deposit fees: Hotels may impose additional deposit fees, mandatory contracts, or amenities restrictions when underage guests stay in rooms booked under an adult’s name.

You should coordinate reservations under adult supervision closely with hotel staff to understand all special booking terms, shared accommodations rules, and age policy considerations. Confirming expectations in advance ensured a smooth hotel stay.

2. You Need a Parent or Guardian Consent

Some hotels allowed underage guests to book rooms independently with expressed written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

You Need a Parent or Guardian Consent
  • Written Consent: The consent paperwork typically contains liability waivers absolving the hotel from responsibility for issues arising with the underage guest.
  • Identification documents: Parents/guardians may need to provide copies of identification documents and credit card authorization even when not on-site.
  • Additional Terms and Conditions: Hotels can impose rules like mandatory check-in/checkout times, restricting certain amenities in the hotel property, limiting noise levels, etc., as conditions for permitting underage reservations.

Specific requirements around parental consent accommodation depend on each hotel’s policies. Underage guests should review all rules thoroughly with staff before traveling.

Note: When booking with guardian authorization forms instead of adult supervision, you clearly communicated special circumstance policies to your parents and coordinated expectations with hotel management before arrival.

3. Using Third-Party Booking Platforms

Most hotels in California allow booking from third-party platforms. Some sites like Expedia have contacts with hotels to book rooms for unaccompanied minors on a case-by-case basis, bypassing usual restrictions.

Using Third-Party Booking Platforms
  • Underage guests should still thoroughly verify the hotel’s specific age and booking policies rather than relying solely on third-party service.
  • Platforms each have policies – some may allow minors to rent a hotel room with parental consent on file, for example. Others prohibit it.
  • Fees, deposits, amenity limitations, adult check-in requirements, and other rules may still apply when leveraging third parties to book as a minor.
  • An underage guest should be completely transparent about their age when booking services and clarify all hotel requirements before arrival.

Although third parties expanding the search for hotel options for under 18 guests, you still should directly confirm amenity access, age verification procedures, deposit fees, and other youth booking considerations with hotel management to avoid last-minute issues.

Check the video below for better insights on booking a hotel room while under the age of 21.

Alternative Hotel Options for Minors

When planning solo trips as a teenager, my brother quickly learned that many hotels have minimum check-in age requirements. Luckily, there are alternative lodging options for younger travelers like those without a guardian. Here’s what he discovered:

  • Airbnbs and Hostels: These tend to have more flexible age restrictions around young guests than hotels. However, some independents require guests to be of legal age, so policies vary.
  • Occupancy Limits: Alternatives like Airbnb often have their own policies on how many people can stay as solo teen travelers, but that wasn’t an issue.
  • Responsibilities: Without hotel staff, you had to take care of tidying up and other tasks when staying in short-term rentals. The trade-off for more independence.
  • Guidelines: Accommodations can have specific rules around deposits, incidentals, damages, etc., that require some financial planning as a young person.
Willa Carson
While not having the convenience of hotels, alternative lodging gives you more options to travel freely under 18. These are just extra things for younger guests to consider when booking. Willa Carson, Traveler and Senior Writer at Happywayfarrer

Check out the video link below for alternative accommodation options if you can’t rent a hotel room.


Will My Boyfriend, 18, and I 17 Be Able to Check Into a Hotel Ourselves?

No, you’ll need an adult over 21 named on the reservation to stay in a hotel under 18 in California.

Can You Get a Hotel at 18 in California?

Yes, 18-year-olds can book hotels in California, but they typically need a credit card.

Can I Still Get a Hotel Room in California if I Am Under the Age Requirement?

If you’re under 18, you won’t be able to check into a California hotel solo. But you can book a hotel room with an accompanying guardian over 21.

Are There Any Other Restrictions on Who Can Book a Hotel Room in California?

Hotels may prohibit locals from booking rooms depending on the policy. Minimum night stays may also apply during busy periods.


When deciding where to stay as an underage traveler in California, it’s clear hotels have age restrictions while alternative lodgings provide more flexibility. Hotels entice with amenities but require guests to be 18+ or 21+ in most cases.

Independent rentals like Airbnb, on the other hand, tend to permit younger guests, albeit with specific guidelines and responsibilities. Choosing your California accommodation as a young traveler depends on your priorities and comfort level.

By now, I hope you clearly understand hotel age policies plus alternatives that welcome underage guests. Let this comparison inform wise choices so you can focus on enjoying your California adventures.

Have you had the experience of checking into a hotel when you were 18? What difficulties did you encounter? Please write in the comments below.

Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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