When it comes to hotel rooms, the labels used to describe rooms can sometimes be vague and downright mysterious. Words like “superior” and “deluxe” are thrown around all the time but they don’t actually share a consistent definition and sometimes come with no meaningful distinctions.
You may have also come across the option to book what’s called a “junior suite” which can be just as mysterious as those other rooms.
In this article, I’ll explain what you can expect when you book a junior suite and give you some examples of some junior suites that I’ve stayed in in the past at different hotels.
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What is a junior suite?
There is no single, universal definition of a junior suite, but generally, it refers to a hotel room featuring a more spacious sitting area that is not entirely separated from the bedroom. Additionally, junior suites may come with extra amenities, such as an additional TV, a larger bathroom, or unique features like a balcony, which are typically not found in standard rooms.
However, hotels use this term pretty loosely and inconsistently and as you’ll see below, a junior suite can take a number of different forms.
Also, some hotels simply give the label of junior suite to a hotel room that is below the level of a standard suite but just bigger than a standard or deluxe room as I will illustrate below. This means that the price point can sometimes be much closer to a standard room than it is going to be to a true suite (but not always).
Based on my experience, a junior suite is a hotel room with the following:
- A sitting area that is more spacious than a standard room
- A bedroom that is partitioned off from the sitting area (though not fully separated)
- Optional features: some junior suites may have additional TVs, bathrooms, or other features not found in standard rooms.
Junior suites that we have stayed in
A perfect example of a junior suite was when we stayed at the Hilton Cabana in Miami. This was a decent hotel located right on the beach and our junior suite was exactly what I expected a junior suite to be.
Here’s what the bedroom looked like. As you can see, it looks like a standard hotel bedroom.
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But now take a look at the wall below. Notice that it acts like a partition that separates the bedroom from the larger sitting area. So unlike a real suite where the bedroom and the sitting area would be in separate rooms, for this junior suite they are simply partitioned from each other.
Here is the sitting area (sorry for the luggage ruining the photo).
Something else to point out is that there was an additional TV on the other side of the partition, so the room had two TVs which put it above a standard room. That slight increase in utility and comfort is often a trademark of junior suites — they sometimes give you a premium feel without the premium cost.
The room also had an additional half bath. So sometimes the junior suites have more than just a partition dividing the bedroom from the sitting area. They may come with things like an additional TV or an additional half-bath. These additional features really give the room that hybrid feel between a standard room and a suite.
Related: What Hotels Have Free Breakfast?
But I’ve also seen junior suites come in very different varieties.
Our room at the JW Marriott Houston Galleria was referred to as a “junior suite” by the front desk although it was listed on the website as a “Larger Guest Room.” The bed was set in an alcove in the room and there was A LOT of room in the sitting area, so while this had the space of a junior suite it was just missing the partition.
I found it unusual that the check-in agent labeled this room as a junior suite, even though it was not listed as such online. This inconsistency in terminology is something you might encounter, so be prepared for variations in how these type of rooms are classified.
I personally would not consider the room just mentioned a true junior suite due to the lack of partition but this still had a feel of a junior suite because the bedroom area was located away from the sitting area which was quite spacious compared to a standard room.
The extra space afforded to you in a junior suite layout means you might be able to pull out an additional bed from the couch if that hotel room has it. Some hotels might be even able to bring in an additional rollaway bed that could fit into a junior suite, so if you plan on going that route a junior suite can be a good option because you may not be as cramped.
Related: Hotel Suites Guide (Prices & Types)
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Next, we stayed in a junior suite at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino in Aruba. Unlike the previous examples, this room did not feature a design that physically separated the bedroom from the sitting area. Instead, it was a generously spacious single room.
Despite the absence of a physical divider, this room remained exceptional due to its spectacular wraparound balcony. This unique feature expanded the room’s overall space, making it feel more like a junior suite. Moreover, the room boasted luxury floor-to-ceiling windows that adorned the walls. So once again, junior suites sometimes offer that upgraded luxury feel.
Now to make things a little bit more confusing consider that some hotels define some rooms as “hotel suites” whenever they are built like junior suites.
An illustration of this concept can be found in a recent stay at the Hilton Auckland in New Zealand. The Hilton Auckland is a delightful Hilton property situated in close proximity to the city center, offering a distinctive experience. This nautically themed hotel embraces a highly imaginative approach to suite design due to its unique theme.
In this case we were staying in the Bow Suite. This was a beautiful suite with an original design meant to resemble the bow of a ship.
You can examine this suite in the photo provided below, and you’ll observe that there are no physical partitions distinguishing the bedroom from the sitting area, except for a single column. Furthermore, this room featured a wraparound balcony, enhancing the spaciousness and resembling the junior suite mentioned earlier.
Yet, this room was considered to be one of the top suites at the hotel and was not described as a “junior suite.” So don’t be surprised if you book a premium suite at a hotel and it ends up being essentially a junior suite. Sometimes the photos of the room will give this away but other times it’s impossible to tell.
Finally, there was another stay we had at the W Las Vegas. It’s worth noting that this hotel is no longer under the W Hotel brand, but at the time of our visit, it was still part of the brand. We were fortunate to be upgraded to a Marvelous Studio Suite. Much like the previous examples, this suite lacked any physical partition, divider, or separate room, making it essentially a generously spacious single hotel room aka a “junior suite.”
To provide another example, we had the opportunity to stay at the Doubletree in Hilo.
Our choice was the DoubleTree Hilo oceanfront junior suite, which turned out to be a remarkable room, especially for a DoubleTree property.
This suite was impressively spacious, featuring two large balconies and a corner view. What made it stand out even more was the inclusion of a kitchen, making it one of the most exceptional junior suites I’ve experienced.
Interestingly, the price for this suite was more in line with what one might expect from a standard suite, and it essentially represented the top-tier suite at the hotel. This goes to show that in some instances, a junior suite can be more along the lines of a premium suite with its pricing and “status” within that hotel.
Cruise ships and junior suites
If I had to guess, the standards for those junior suites are probably more consistent across cruise ship brands than hotel brands but the good thing about cruise ship rooms is that you can find a detailed layout of the room that is not always available for hotel rooms.
As you can see, junior suites come in various configurations.
I personally adhere to the definition of a junior suite as having a distinct sitting area separated from the bedroom by some form of partition. Nevertheless, it’s evident that hotels interpret and apply the term “junior suite” differently, making it challenging to predict what to anticipate.
In any case, you can typically expect a junior suite to offer more spacious accommodations with additional features such as an extra TV, a larger bathroom, or unique amenities like a balcony.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.