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The Accommodation Squeeze: Five Tips for Dealing With a Small Hotel Room

This blog post was updated on May 1, 2020.

I checked into a hotel room in the mountains of Colorado to spend the weekend away. Four of us were to share a room, one that was supposed to be quite spacious. However, upon opening the door, we quickly discovered that our room was a narrow hallway type space. Hotel rooms can seldom be what they are pictured as, especially when it comes to space.

The small hotel can be maddening. It can be a test of survival in group travel or a story of how you forgot half of your suitcase because the room swallowed those items whole. As I battled my own small hotel room problems, I realized that the traveler must follow a number of tips to survive these tiny rooms.

Pack an Organized Suitcase: I had packed a suitcase that tends to swallow up my items. I mostly use it for weekends away, but it lacks compartments to keep clothes organized. If your bag is an unorganized mess, the small hotel room will make matters worse. In small hotel rooms, your bag must act as your closet or dresser, especially if there isn’t either of these features in your room. You shouldn’t have to dig around and toss items out of the bag to find them. If you do, the small hotel room will be tricky to survive.

Spend Time in Other Hotel Areas: If you stay in your small hotel room too long, you are bound to get a touch of cabin fever. To survive these small rooms, you need to get out of your room as much as possible and utilize other hotel areas such as business centers, pools or the lobby. These spaces will help you feel less closed in when you head in for the night to your miniscule room.

If Traveling in a Group, Assign Set Spaces for Luggage: With four women in one hotel room, our suitcases were spilling out all over the small room. However, we quickly took up set spaces in the room to place our luggage and belongings. If you don’t do this with a small hotel room, you could face lost items to another’s bag or more of those feelings of trying to live in a space on top of several other people. If you are traveling in a group and all cramming into a small hotel room, it is best to have set spaces for each person.

Utilize Hotel Features Creatively: The closet of my last small hotel room also happened to be in the sink and kitchen space. If you were to hang your clothes in this area, you could face coffee on those items in the morning or toothpaste from the sink. In a small hotel room, you need to think beyond what you are given for set purposes. With the lack of closet space given, I used the ironing board rack on the wall to hang up some of my items. Ottomans can turn into luggage stands. Look around your room and think creatively. If you see features that can help you survive the small space with luggage or other travelers, use them even if that isn’t their main purpose.

Ask For Another Room: While unsuccessful on this last trip, we did ask the hotel if they had a bigger room that we could move into for our stay. You never know unless you ask. On a trip to Bruges, Belgium, the hotel room was so small that my bag wouldn’t even fit in the room without requiring leaps and bounds. I asked to see other available rooms. You never know if there is another room on the property that they can move you into that might have that extra space that will make all of the difference for your stay.


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