How small is too small for a comfortable hotel room?
I have stayed in hundreds of hotel rooms. I have lived in hotel rooms at around 2,000 square feet of multi-room living space. I have had hotel rooms where I had to get up and move from my chair to let Kelley pass by me to walk around the bed. The average hotel room size in the US is about 325 square feet according to Bjorn Hanson in a Kitty Bean Yancey article three years ago in USAToday. Bjorn Hanson (bio link) is one of the most frequently cited experts I see on hotel industry statistics and trends.
Last week I stayed in a 325 square feet room at the Westin Westminster in Colorado.
The room had a standard closet, bathroom with tub, shower, sink, and counter, bedroom with a King bed, two nightstands, a dresser with tv on top, small desk and desk chair, little table surface, upholstered chair and ottoman. All the essentials were present, but not much extra space to lounge around in between the furniture. Exchanging the chair or desk for a couch would have been an even tighter fit, but would have offered expanded seating for two.
Think 13’ wide x 25’ door-to-window as the average 325 square feet room. Within the space is the bathroom. A big bathroom is a real treat and a way to improve a small room space.
Do most people even comprehend room size when making a hotel reservation?
I thought about some of the small hotel rooms where I have lived over the past few years and I came up with four examples of functional rooms in a small space (some more functional than others). They always have the essentials.
Design is a big factor for making a small room a comfortable environment.
#1: Singapore Changi Airport, Ambassador Transit Hotel, approximately 75 square feet; 100 sq. ft. with ensuite bath.
These rooms are still low priced at $68.27 Singapore Dollars (about $47USD) for a room with bathroom or as low as $41.20 SGD (about $28.40USD) for a room with a shared toilet/shower down the hall. The showers were down the hall in the fitness room area of the hotel floor and consist of individual locked shower stalls comparable to what you would find at an upscale gym club. The photos on the website look like the rooms are more stylish than shown in my Singapore Airport Transit Hotel photos from 2003.
#2 Ramada Hotel Amsterdam, approximately 125 square feet.
This room had lots of cool and the perfect room for a July bed-in watching Tour de France.
The TV was mounted on a wall of carpet over the foot of the bed.
The shower stall doubled for luggage storage when we were not cleaning.
Admiring the clear sink takes up at least 30 minutes of your daily room time.
#3 Golden Tulip Amsterdam Art, approximately 160 square feet.
This place was a bit off the main tourist track and seemed to have more Dutch guests than central Amsterdam hotels. Centraal train station was about a 30 minute walk east along Haarlemer Straat.
This room actually had enough space to move and sit comfortably. I had one night solo and the room was much better suited for one person rather than two.
A TV and full desk counter rounded out the room.
#4 W Sydney, bi-level loft approximately 350 square feet (rebranded and is now BLUE Sydney, a Taj Hotel)
This hotel was a funky W with lots of character built in a remodeled Sydney wharf building.
The W Sydney guest rooms were only about 8 feet wide.
Stairs led up to the loft bedroom and bathroom.
The bathroom had a rooftop view usually occupied by seagulls.
The attention to detail was apparent throughout the room to make the use of the limited space and maintain easy mobility within the space between furnishings.
A total room size below 300 square feet can feel claustrophobic to me. I was reading a description of a grand deluxe room at the Westin St. Francis, San Francisco and the size was listed as 200 to 360 sq. ft. That is quite a range of room sizes for a $280 per night room – before taxes. 360 square feet in a high ceilinged room can feel cavernous. 200 square feet is going to be much closer to a small standard sized hotel room. The lowest cost rooms at the St. Francis Hotel are listed as 145 sq. ft. with a double bed and no view and range from $109 to $229.
Most rooms in upper upscale hotels like Hilton, DoubleTree Crowne Plaza, Marriott, Renaissance, Westin, and Sheraton will be somewhere in the 300 to 400 square feet range. Closer to 300 is more probable than the 400 square foot range.
I think 400 square feet is a good number for when a room starts to feel comfortably sizeable for a hotel stay. 500 square feet feels like a substantial upgrade and allows two people to have some private space. 600 square feet to 800 square feet is feeling suite. Over 800 square feet and you have scored a hotel “living” room.
I really enjoy a room over 400 square feet and closer to 500 square feet has a real feeling of hotel spaciousness. In the past month I have stayed in several hotel suites in the 700 to 800 square feet range and that feels comfortable when I am away from home; sometimes downright luxurious.
When you have a small room the primary factor that can improve the stay is a room window with a view.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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