As a 17-year-old, you may want the freedom of staying alone in a hotel for a trip. But are hotels allowed to accommodate unaccompanied minors?
In most cases, 17-year-olds can legally stay in hotels alone in the United States. However, age restrictions vary between hotel chains and some may require consent forms. International travel and state laws add further considerations.
This guide covers the hotel policies, laws, and tips to help 17-year-olds book and check-in to hotels independently.
Typical Hotel Check-in Age Requirements
When it comes to staying in a hotel alone as a 17-year-old, it’s important to understand the typical age requirements set by hotels. While policies can vary between establishments, many hotels do allow 16 and 17-year-olds to check-in on their own.
16-17 Year Olds Usually Allowed
16-17 year olds are generally not permitted to check in alone except at some small independent hotels or with parental permission. But policies vary, so the young traveler should always contact the hotel in advance to confirm their age requirements before booking. Providing an authorization letter from parents can also help facilitate check-in.
There are some exceptions where 16-17 year olds may be allowed to check into hotels alone without parental permission, but these are rare. Some examples include:
- Emancipated minors: In some states in the US, under 18s who are legally emancipated from their parents can check into hotels alone as they are considered independent legal adults. They would need to provide emancipation paperwork at check-in.
- Unaccompanied minor policies: Some hotels, especially near airports, have special policies allowing 16-17 year olds traveling alone to check in with certain restrictions. The minor usually has to provide the hotel with guardian contact info and may need to show a boarding pass.
- Group travel: Hotels may relax age policies for school, sports, or organized group travel if adults are supervising the trip. The group organizers would need to make arrangements with the hotel in advance.
- Regions with lower age of majority: In some countries or jurisdictions where the legal age of majority is 16, hotels are more likely to allow 16-17 year old solo travelers. Examples are Scotland, Alberta in Canada, and some European countries.
- Small independent hotels: Smaller hotels, motels, inns, and hostels, especially in remote areas, may sometimes make exceptions to check in solo 16-17 year olds at their own discretion. But parental permission may still be required.
- Rewards members: Loyalty program status or membership (e.g. Marriott Bonvoy Elite) may persuade some hotels to waive standard age requirements for 16-17 year old members, but policies vary.
So while most large chain hotels will require guests to be 18+ to check in, there are some rare scenarios where exceptions may be made for 16-17 year olds traveling independently. But the hotel always has the right to insist on minimum age rules at their discretion.
Policies Vary Between Hotels
While most hotels allow 16 and 17-year-olds to stay alone, it’s important to note that policies can vary between establishments. Some hotels may have stricter age requirements or require a parent or guardian to sign a consent form. It’s always a good idea to check with the specific hotel you plan on staying at to ensure you meet their age requirements and any additional stipulations they may have.
Consent Forms and Requirements
Parental Notification Forms
If you’re a 17-year-old planning to stay in a hotel alone, it’s important to be aware of the consent forms and requirements that may be necessary. In many countries, hotels have specific policies regarding minors staying without adult supervision. One common requirement is the need for parental notification forms.
Parental notification forms typically require the signature of a parent or legal guardian, granting permission for the minor to stay in the hotel alone. These forms may also include emergency contact information and any specific instructions or restrictions.
It’s important to check with the hotel you plan to stay at regarding their specific policies and requirements. Some hotels may require these forms to be notarized, while others may simply ask for a signed consent form upon check-in.
ID and Payment Verification
Here are some tips for a 17-year-old to provide identification and payment verification when checking into a hotel:
- Government-issued photo ID: A driver’s license or passport proving their age should be provided at check-in. Some hotels may accept a legal school ID.
- Proof of emancipation (if applicable): If the minor is legally emancipated from parents, bringing emancipation paperwork helps verify their legal adult status.
- Parental permission letter: Having a dated letter from parents authorizing the 17-year-old to check in and take full responsibility can help convince hotels to make an exception.
- Advance notification: The 17-year-old or parents should contact the hotel ahead of time to discuss permission for booking and provide the letter.
- Authorized users on credit card: If the booking and stay will be paid for by parents, the 17-year-old should be added as an authorized user on the credit card used. This allows them to provide the card at check-in.
- Debit card in teen’s name: Alternatively, having a debit card in the 17-year-old’s own name provides valid payment that hotels can accept.
- Advance purchase via parents: If parents will pre-pay for the room in advance, the reservation confirmation number serves as proof of purchase.
- Parental phone authorization: The hotel may call the parents at check-in to verbally provide payment authorization.
- Refundable deposit: Hotels may allow the 17-year-old to pay a refundable cash deposit or place a hold on the credit card.
With the right documents and authorizations, many hotels are willing to make exceptions for mature and responsible 17-year-olds, especially if they demonstrate preparation. But policies vary, so advance communication is key.
State Laws and Regulations
When it comes to the question of whether a 17-year-old can stay in a hotel alone, it’s important to understand the state laws and regulations that govern hotel stays. Different states may have different rules and restrictions in place, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific laws of the state you plan to visit.
Booking Age vs Check-in Age May Differ
A hotel’s booking policy and check-in age requirement may be different. Here are some key things to know:
- Booking age is often lower than check-in age. For example, many hotels allow guests 16+ to book a room, but require 18+ to check-in.
- This allows younger travelers to book in advance with parental permission, but avoids unaccompanied minors checking in.
- Hotels want evidence of parental consent for underage bookings. Requiring adult check-in provides supervision.
- Some hotels allow underage booking and check-in with completed waiver forms, parent authorization notes, notarized letters, or direct parent communications.
- However, no hotel is obligated to allow underage booking or check-in without adults. Their policies are set independently.
- Rules tend to be strictest for luxury hotels. Budget hotels and hostels are sometimes more flexible.
- Overseas hotels often have lower age limits than US, varying by country and region.
The best practice is to contact hotels directly about both booking and check-in age policies when traveling under 18. Assume they differ unless informed otherwise. Clarify required documentation and parental permissions. Read all policies carefully before booking.
Some States Restrict Unaccompanied Stays
Some states and local jurisdictions in the US do have laws restricting unaccompanied overnight stays by minors in hotels or motels. A few examples:
- In Michigan, a hotel cannot rent a room to an unaccompanied minor under 18 without parental consent.
- In Nebraska, minors under 19 are prohibited from staying overnight in hotels without a parent/guardian.
- Parts of California prohibit renting hotel rooms to unaccompanied minors under 18 without prior parental permission.
- Some Florida counties have imposed mandatory age verification and restrictions on hotel rentals to solo minors under 18.
- In Texas, those under 21 must have parental authorization to stay alone in hotels.
- A few other states have broader laws about leaving children unattended or unsupervised that could apply.
So in certain areas, state or local statutes may reinforce hotel policies requiring adult supervision of minor guests. Hotels in these regions will be especially strict about not allowing 16-17 year old solo check-ins without verified parental approval. Travelers under 18 should research relevant laws before booking and comply fully with age policies. When in doubt, call ahead to confirm directly with the hotel.
International Travel Considerations
Planning a solo trip as a 17-year-old can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to be aware of the international travel considerations that may come into play. Here are some key factors to consider before booking your accommodation:
Countries Have Different Age Rules
Age policies for hotel check-in and unaccompanied travel vary significantly across different countries. Some examples outside the US:
- In the UK, there is no law restricting hotel check-in ages, but most hotels require guests to be 18+. Some may allow 16-17 with parental consent.
- In Australia and New Zealand, hotels often allow check-in at 16-17 years old with ID and payment verification. Parent notes may be requested.
- Much of Europe has lower age limits, around 16 years old, especially for budget hotels and hostels. But upscale hotels may still require 18+.
- In Canada, check-in age is typically 18, but 16-17 may be allowed with parental authorization at manager’s discretion.
- In Mexico, hotels are generally flexible for teens 15+ if parents provide permission paperwork.
- In Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Asia, solo teen travelers as young as 13 may find many hotels willing to accommodate them.
- Middle East hotels follow stricter policies, requiring 18+ or 21+ for unmarried guests. Parental consent is obligatory for minors.
- In Japan and Singapore, most hotels enforce an 18+ age minimum for unaccompanied check-in.
So research country-specific and local hotel policies. Calling ahead to verify is advisable. Cultural views on unsupervised teen travel also impact hotel willingness to make exceptions. Knowing relevant laws is key.
Business Hotels vs Family Hotels
Business focused hotels tend to have stricter policies on minimum check-in ages compared to more family oriented hotels. There are some reasons for this:
- Business hotels cater primarily to adult business travelers. Unaccompanied minors are not their typical guest demographic.
- Upscale and luxury business hotels aim for a more exclusive ambiance. The presence of groups of unsupervised youth can be seen as detracting from this.
- Business travelers often expect and prefer a quieter, more professional environment. Hotels try to provide this.
- Younger guests are more likely to be boisterous and engage in behavior like partying that business travelers dislike.
- Family hotels understand and accommodate the need for under 18s to travel with parents. This is part of their business model.
- Family hotels may offer kids clubs, pools, connecting rooms and other amenities catered specifically to younger guests.
- Budget family hotels and motor inns are generally more flexible on check-in ages with parental consent.
So the hotel segment certainly influences age policies. Those marketing to families and leisure travelers tend to be more permissive compared to upscale business properties. But always check directly with any hotel before booking under 18.
Tips for 17-Year-Olds Booking Hotels
Booking a hotel room can be an exciting experience, especially for young adults who are venturing out on their own. However, if you’re a 17-year-old planning to stay in a hotel alone, it’s important to be aware of certain considerations and take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth and safe experience. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Call ahead and speak directly to the hotel to see if they will allow booking and check-in for unaccompanied 17-year-olds. Be clear on their policies.
- Have a credit card authorized for your use by your parents to provide at booking and check-in. This shows you have payment ability.
- Get a permission letter signed by your parents indicating dates of stay, authorizing payment, and taking responsibility.
- Book well in advance. Last minute underage requests are often denied. Plan ahead.
- Focus your search on budget hotels, motels, and hostels that are more likely to be flexible on age.
- If traveling with friends, have only one make the booking and check-in for the room to avoid age issues.
- Provide your details (age, license, school ID, etc.) upfront and be cooperative with any verification requests.
- Be prepared to pay cash deposits or have funds held on the card during your stay as guarantee.
- Book refundable rates in case the hotel ultimately refuses check-in due to age restrictions.
- Understand and follow all hotel policies on noise, visitors, smoking, damages, etc. to avoid problems.
- Travel with an activated cell phone so the hotel and your parents can contact you if needed.
With preparation and maturity, 17-year-olds can often successfully book hotel stays, but policies vary so phone confirmation is essential.
While most hotels allow 17-year-olds to check in alone with ID and completed forms, policies are not universal. Teen travelers should research age rules, plan ahead, have parental consent if needed, and ensure they feel safe and comfortable staying independently.