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Long-Term and Short-Term Hotel Stays: What’s the Longest and Shortest Possible Hotel Stay?

It’s hard to pin-point the average number of days a guest spends at a hotel. Traveling businessmen may stay for a day or two. Families on vacation can stay for a few days or weeks. Visitors may stay over the weekend. And these are just a few examples of guests you’ll find at a hotel!

But what is legally the longest or shortest possible hotel stay you can have? For instance, can I rent a hotel suite for just a few hours to film a video or do a photo-shoot and then leave? Or, can I actually live in a hotel permanently?

Shortest Hotel Stay: Not Checking in on a Reserved Hotel Room

Technically speaking, the shortest stay would be one that lasts zero seconds. You could reserve a hotel suite or room online, pay for the room, and then not show up to check-in. You could do this, but given that the average price for a three-star hotel room good for two is around $200, I don’t recommend doing this unless you’re willing to throw away that amount of money on a room you won’t even stay in. Hotel policies vary, but if you don’t cancel your booking and don’t show up, you’ll most definitely be forfeiting all payments.

Short Hotel Stay: Can I Stay for Only a Few Hours?

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If you’re planning to stay for less than 24 hours, you might want to consider a motel instead of a hotel. There are plenty of differences between a motel and a hotel, but these include pricing and how they’re built for stays. Hotels are built for longer stays and provide furniture like cabinets and drawers for your belongings. They also have places like gyms, restaurants, and lounges for your comfort. Motels, on the other hand, are designed for short-term accommodation and provide the basics like a bed and bathroom. Most motels only provide rooms and have no other amenities.

In most hotels, the standard check-in time is at 2 or 3 PM and check-out time is at noon the next day. This means most hotels let you stay for 22 or 21 hours for every night you book. It is possible to stay for even just an hour or less – this is called early check-out. Let’s say that you check-in at 2 PM and you have to catch a flight the next day at 6 AM. Even if the hotel’s check-out time is at 12NN, you can check out hours before your flight. Or, if you only need the hotel to do a photo-shoot or shoot a video in a hotel room, it would be practical to stay until check-out, but you could leave earlier if you want.

However, just because you leave early does not mean the hotel room will be cheaper. While some motels offer rates for hours, hotels charge per night, minimum of one night. So, if a hotel room costs $200, even if you check-in at 2 PM and check-out at 3 PM, you’ll be paying the entire $200 and not just a fraction of it. Sure, they’ll clean the room and make it available for anyone interested in checking-in late, but their price for you will be fixed.

Long Hotel Stay: Staying Beyond Check-out Time

Now, we move to longer hotel stays. Let’s say that you’re nearing the end of your reservation. Check-out time is at noon, but you have a reason for not wanting to leave the room be then. The reason for your extended stay will affect what happens next.

Should your reason be that you’re simply running late, this may be acceptable. In such a case, it’s best to inform the receptionist so that they can make arrangements. The reason why there’s a two-hour gap between check-out and check-in time is to give hotel cleaners enough time to clean the rooms before the next person scheduled to stay in your room checks in. If your reason is simply that you don’t want to leave, you could face additional fees. Some hotels have late check-out penalty fees that can cost as much as an extra day. In some cases, some hotels have policies where if you check-out very late that they will charge you the next night.

Hotels can also evict you should you refuse to leave after your reservation. While a guest has the right to remain in a room until they pay the bill and check-out, they have no right to the room after the rental period. They have a right to physically remove guests for such reason, along with charge fees for the late check-out.

Longest Hotel Stay: Can I Live in a Hotel Permanently?

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Interested in living like you’re in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody? Depending on which state the hotel is in, it can be possible.

You may notice that some hotels have a maximum number of days you can book a room. If you’re looking for a place to stay for 35 days, for example, you might be requested to make one 30-day and one 5-day booking or one 21-day and one 14-day booking. This rule varies between states. In some states, staying in a hotel room for longer than a given amount of time gives you some rights as a tenant and the hotel your landlord. This means additional responsibilities the hotel will be required to provide or charges they cannot impose since you are a tenant, not a temporary guest.

If you want to live like Marilyn Monroe and turn your hotel room into a permanent place of residence, you’ll have to see if the hotel of your choice allows it. If your state allows it, there should be no problem with indefinitely staying in a hotel as long as you can afford it. Depending on the hotel policy, you may be asked to provide credit card information or, if they accept cash, a week or month upfront.

For states that limit the number of days a guest can stay, it may still be possible to live in a hotel permanently, but it will be much more difficult. Instead of indefinitely keeping the room to yourself, you’ll have to keep booking your hotel room. This means booking every 21 or 30 days, depending on the hotel’s restrictions. You won’t have to vacate the room and check-in a new room every time one booking ends and another begins.

The problem with this method, however, will be the payment. Some hotels are always fully-booked, so you’ll have to reserve your room months in advance. Otherwise, you may have to be open to moving to different room types if you fail to book the same room. Booking months in advance, however, means paying ahead of time. This is easier with a credit card, but difficult if you’re paying in cash.

But if you really are dead-set on living in a hotel permanently, it’s best to coordinate with hotel management. Some hotels have rooms designed and priced for the long-term. Speaking to management can even get you a special monthly or yearly price. It’s not as practical as, say, living in your own condo or apartment, but if you’re willing to pay more for daily cleaning and hotel freebies and don’t want to deal with utilities or property tax, this is a possibility.

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