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When it comes to hotel rooms, the labels used to describe rooms can sometimes be vague and downright mysterious. Words like “superior” and “deluxe” get 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 doesn’t seem to be one universal definition of a junior suite but it is usually a hotel room with a larger sitting area that is not in a different room from the bedroom. 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).
For me, 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.
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.
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.
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.
But I’ve also seen from 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.
It was odd to me that the agent at check-in was referring to this room as a Junior suite while it was not listed as that online, But I would not have had a huge issue with labeling this room as a junior suite. I personally would not consider it 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 bed that could be fit into a junior suite although that is something that I have never done.
Then there was a junior suite that we stayed in in Aruba at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. This room did not have any kind of design that allowed the bedroom to be separated from the sitting area. Instead, this was just a really big room.
This was still a special room because it had a awesome wraparound balcony, which gave you much more real estate for your room. So in this case this room was considered a junior suite mostly due to the fact that it was just a much bigger room and had the luxury floor-to-ceiling windows lining the walls.
Now to make things a little bit more confusing consider that some hotels define some rooms to be Hotel suites whenever they are built like junior suites.
An example of this is a recent suite that we stayed in at the Hilton Auckland, New Zealand. The Hilton Auckland, New Zealand is a pretty nice in Hilton property located very close to the center of the city and has a very unique layout. It is a nautically themed hotel which lends itself to a very creative layout for their suites.
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 take a look at this suite in the photo below and you will notice that there are no partitions separating the bedroom from the sitting area (other than a single column). And again this room had a wrap around balcony which was very nice and open up the rooms even more similar to the junior suite above.
Yet, this room was considered to be one of the top suites at the hotel and was not described as a junior suite.
Finally, there was a recent stay we had at the W Las Vegas. Now this hotel is no longer a W Hotel but at the time it was and we were upgraded to a Marvelous Studio Suite. This was yet another suite that did not have any kind of partition or divider or separate room in it. Instead, it was just one really big hotel room.
So one way to think about junior suites is that they also can be similar to a studio apartment.
If you were wondering about junior suites at on cruise ships, such a Royal Caribbean or Carnival then you want to look specifically into the layouts of those suites which should be available online. 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 tell, junior suites can take a variety of different forms. I still stick to my definition of a separate sitting area divided by a partition of some sorts from the bedroom area as the standard for a junior suite. However, it is clear that hotels have different definitions and meanings that they attach to the junior suite label so it’s not always clear what to expect.
At the very least, you should expect a bigger room with more real estate and perhaps some type of special features like an additional TV, bigger bathroom, or some kind of unique feature like a balcony.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.