Travelling as a same sex couple, there’s often the concern of what to do about asking for a room with a double bed in hotels or hostels. If you’re planning to sleep in dorms, this probably won’t be a problem, but if you and your partner want a private room, you’ll no doubt have to deal with this issue at some point in your travels together, depending where in the world you are travelling.

Here’s some basic advice on how to handle it.

Be prepared for assumptions and mistakes

If you’ve booked your accommodation online and specifically selected a double rather than twin room, or made a special request stating that you’d like one bed not two, be prepared that when you turn up to check in to the hotel or hostel, the receptionist may assume that this booking was a mistake and will instead give you a twin room, even without asking. This has happened to me in Austria even in higher end places.

This isn’t ideal, but in cultures where it is uncommon to see people openly in same sex relationships, it will probably be seen be the receptionist as a favour. You can either simply roll with this, or (which I would prefer) you can say something to check, nonchalantly, that you indeed will get a double bed before you’re given the key or taken to your room.

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Display that you are a couple to reinforce your preference

If you’re turning up at a place without a reservation in a country where being openly homosexual won’t put you in danger, as well as of course simply saying “we’d like a double room with one bed not two”, use body language as well as words to indicate your couple status.

That may mean holding hands, putting your arm over your partner’s shoulder, or using the appropriate or your preferred word to refer to your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife) in the context of the query to make it super clear. Whatever is natural for you as a couple.

Finally, stay calm

If you follow all of the advice above and you are given a room you didn’t ask for, or you are misunderstood and shown a twin room, don’t get angry (or at least don’t show your anger). If this is a language problem, try again and using simpler words, stating clearly what it is you want and don’t want. Failing that, resort to body language again and hope for the best. And adding a smile probably won’t hurt either!

Unfortunately, all of this advice is given with the caveat that you do not risk your personal safety by openly displaying your sexuality in countries where being gay is illegal.