For a lot of travelers, traveling and drinking alcohol go hand-in-hand. There’s nothing like relaxing on a vacation and having a cold one while escaping reality for a few days.
But is it actually allowed for you to bring alcohol into a hotel or do you have to purchase all of your alcohol at the bar or from the minibar?
In this article, we will take a look and see what type of policies hotels usually have when it comes to alcohol.
Can you bring alcohol into a hotel?
Most hotels will allow you to bring alcohol into the hotel and with you to your hotel room. However, they may place restrictions on where you can consume alcohol. For example, you may not be able to consume your own alcohol in the lobby area or in the bar area.
Let’s take a closer look at how hotels handle guests bringing in alcohol!
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Believe it or not, there are some hotels that do NOT allow guests to bring alcohol into the hotel.
They do this for a few reasons but it’s mostly just to prevent people from getting out of control or causing noise disturbances. It’s essentially a way to try to prevent people from throwing parties in their hotel rooms.
It also could presumably help increase revenue for the hotel since more guests would be inclined to purchase alcohol from the bar or the mini bar in the room.
The obvious issue with this type of policy is the difficulty with enforcing it.
You could imagine a guest walking into a hotel after hitting up the local liquor store and taking several cases of beer to their room. Or better yet, bringing an entire cooler of brewskis with them.
In that situation, the guest could stick out enough so that someone at the front desk could stop them and inform them that alcohol is not allowed in the property.
If they were truly enforcing the policy they would probably just ask you to leave the alcohol at the front desk or perhaps take it back to your vehicle in the parking lot. It’s highly unlikely that a hotel would kick you out on the spot.
However, if anyone was aware of the rule they could easily hide their alcohol in their luggage making it very easy to get around the rule.
The other way this could be enforced is when housekeeping gets into the room and they see evidence that someone has been drinking.
They could see a lot of empty beer bottles lying around the room, for example.
The issue with that scenario is that any “punishment” is going to result in some very unhappy guests, especially because the evidence is still somewhat indirect.
Also, if the guests were not causing any kind of loud commotion, the hotel does not really have a good reason for coming down on them. So I really wouldn’t worry too much about this scenario.
Restrictions on pool and gym areas
Hopefully your idea of a workout is hitting the treadmill hard and not shotgunning a beer or guzzling down a bottle of wine.
But, you can probably expect alcohol to not be allowed inside of hotel gyms because it’s a bad idea and it just doesn’t vibe with other people who are in there trying to work on their fitness.
It’s also extremely common for alcohol to not be allowed in pool areas.
Lots of hotel pools do not have lifeguards on duty and so the potential of someone getting drunk, slipping, and then drowning is a real possibility.
There’s also the threat of someone breaking glass bottles somewhere by the pool and creating a hazard for others.
Restaurant and bar areas
Restaurants and bars — whether located inside of a hotel or outside of a hotel — usually have strict policies that do not allow you to bring alcohol in. “No Outside Food Allowed” signs are very common to see.
So it’s no surprise that you’ll find these policies applied to restaurants and bars located in hotels.
Lobby and other common areas
Whether or not you can drink in the lobby area of a hotel (or any other public area) is going to depend on the hotel’s policy and also on the local laws.
It’s not uncommon for there to be rules against drinking and smoking in common areas and the hotel lobby is the quintessential common area of a hotel.
For example, here is what the Hampton Inn Portage states:
Our Hotel does not possess a State Liquor License nor a special event permit. We prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the common areas to include the lobby, pool, fitness center, and/or hallway corridors.
The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Collingwood states the following:
Drinking Alcohol is prohibited in all Public Areas including; in the hotel’s Lobby, Hallways, Pool areas, and parking areas
With that said, some hotels will allow you to do it.
Contrary to what some believe, most hotel staff members don’t want to interfere with a guest unless they feel like they have to. Even if a hotel does have “no alcohol in the lobby” policy it’s possible that the hotel staff may look the other way if you are drinking but not causing a problem.
However, if you are getting belligerent or running around causing a scene, that could be a different story and they may decide it’s time to enforce their policy.
So don’t expect hotels to allow you to drink your own alcohol in common areas but if you do and are discreet, you may not run into trouble.
What if you get caught with alcohol?
In most cases, unless you are causing some other type of issue, if you get caught drinking alcohol somewhere you are not supposed to you will probably just be asked to leave or discard your alcohol.
If a hotel does not allow you to bring in alcohol, there is also a chance they may have some type of penalty for getting caught. For example, they could slap you with some type of $100 fee.
Any property that develops a reputation for charging this type of fee would probably be quickly ridiculed and suffer in the realm of public opinion so I would not expect this to happen.
There’s always the possibility of a hotel kicking you out for violating its policies but again I would imagine getting kicked out for simply possessing alcohol would be an extremely rare occurrence. The backlash to the hotel would just be too great.
Related: Can You Get Kicked Out of a Hotel?
Most hotels will allow you to bring alcohol into the hotel and into your room. You probably will not run into any issues consuming alcohol in your room unless you are causing some type of disturbance.
But if you want to consume alcohol in common areas of the hotel, you need to be mindful that this could be against the policy of the hotel or even local laws.
In addition, some areas of the hotel will virtually always be off-limits to alcohol such as the hotel pool.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. 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.