How I booked 1 bed for 4 people — reader mistake story

Mar 16, 2020

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Terry, who failed to confirm one fundamental detail of a hotel stay:

Last summer I booked a hotel room in Monterey, California using Citi ThankYou points. The room I booked through the rewards site was listed as a double queen room — just what I needed for our family of four. The problem arose when we arrived to check in on our reserved date. The manager insisted that a double queen room was a room for two people with one queen bed, not a room with two queen beds.

My complaints got me nowhere, so I ended up paying for an additional room. When I returned home after the trip, I called Citi and told them what happened. They said there was nothing they could do after the fact, but if it ever happened again, I should call right away so they could intervene in my favor. Lesson learned.

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In the parlance of the hotel industry, a double room is generally one intended for (up to) two people, not necessarily one with two beds — to add further confusion, a double room may also refer to a room with one double bed. Thus, a “double queen” room could be interpreted as a room for two people with a single queen bed or as a room with two queen beds in it. There’s no industry-wide standard of room denominations, so you shouldn’t assume rooms that are classified similarly at different properties will provide similar sleeping arrangements.

Like Terry, I (and several other TPG staff I consulted) would expect a double queen room to have two beds; that initial assumption seems reasonable even if it’s incorrect. Terry’s mistake was failing to confirm the room configuration before booking. Most hotel properties provide pictures and detailed descriptions of rooms, including the number of beds, square footage and amenities (Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott all excel at this). For those that don’t, you can find pictures and reviews on third-party sites like TripAdvisor, or if nothing else, just call the hotel and ask. Confirming those details is especially important when you’re booking rooms for a family or other group.

When you search for hotel rooms, be sure to input the correct number of guests. Some hotel websites are sophisticated enough to exclude search results that can’t actually accommodate your party, so booking a room for four people might have helped Terry avoid this situation altogether. Listing the number of guests is also a good practice to avoid unexpected costs, since hotels may charge a higher rate for more guests (particularly outside North America).

Related: The 10 best hotel chains for families

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Terry a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Gabriel Alenius/Unsplash.

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