Hotel Room Maximum Occupancy – Does it Matter?

Those of you with larger families will be more aware of this than others. But now that Jen & I have added a 4th child to the family we are beginning to find ourselves in a little bit of a predicament.

Finding availability to use hotel points has previously been the easiest part of lining up a vacation. Most hotel programs have a no blackout date policy that makes it pretty easy to find a place to use our points. Booking a room for a family of 6 is a little different story.

The majority of hotel rooms have a maximum occupancy limit of 4 or 5 even though they appear to be able to accommodate 6. For example, I have been looking at a potential trip to Maui in Feb/March on which I was hoping to use SPG points for our hotel. There are 11 SPG properties in Hawaii. Without specifying the number of people, I was able to find a nice ocean view room with 2 queen beds and a sofa bed. Should sleep 6 no problem right? Wrong, this room has a max occupancy of 5.

After selecting 2 adults and 4 children in the search criteria, I found that only 3 of the 11 properties even have a room that allows 6. Why? Is this the hotels way of selling more rooms?

Maximum occupancy for hotel rooms are determined by that states fire marshal. Fire code considers a variety of factors including the room size but also proximity to and number of fire escapes. Based on the size and number of fire escapes a set maximum limit for each floor of the hotel is determined. From there the hotel must design the rooms on each floor to stay under the total limit for that floor.

Now that we understand the reasoning and factors behind the limits let’s get back to the Maui scenario. Needless to say, I could not find any rooms on points for 6 occupants. Actually the room I wanted states a maximum occupancy of 4.

I’ll admit when there was only 5 of us, I had no problem sticking all of us in a room for 4. But 6 people in a room with a max occupancy of 4 felt like I was pushing the limit a little far. So I called the hotel and spoke with the manager, who after a moment of looking into the situation informed me that it would be no problem if we exceeded the limit. He just made it clear that they would not be able to provide extra bedding and linens above and beyond what would be normal for the room. Essentially they would act like they didn’t know we had exceeded 4.

After talking to the one hotel I got a little curious and decided to call a few more hotels. Most seemed to have no concern with exceeding occupancy, one tried to up-sell me into a suite and only one hotel apologized and told me that they would not be able to accommodate us.

Bottom line if you have a large family

Hotel rooms have a maximum occupancy for your safety. If you want to exceed that limit it is up to you. Most hotels seem to be accommodating if you simply email or call ahead. While my kids are still young, I know what I will choose. Years down the road when they are teenagers however, I may not have a choice!

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Let me know what you are thinking!

  1. My parents would put our family of 7 in a 6 person room quite frequently (usually a Choice brand like Comfort Suites as all rooms have the pull out sofa).

  2. I think allowing 15 Mexicans to 1 room is illegal and INS should be called anytime you see this. I saw your page because I looked up how to deal with this from a restless night’s sleep. I’ll call the office first and see what’s up and why they are allowing it.