Hotels in California have a general obligation to rent rooms to anyone who asks and is able to pay. This open door approach comes to us from old England, where travelers turned away at inns risked meeting bandits on the roads. State law prohibits innkeepers from refusing to rent a room on the basis of an individual's age, but a number of exceptions involve individuals who are minors. In California, a minor is anyone younger than 18 years old.
Prom Night Dilemma
Prom and graduation night celebrations used to be expensive headaches for hotels. Innkeepers felt compelled by state anti-discrimination law to rent rooms to underage students. But all night parties in student occupied rooms often led to broken furniture, vandalized property and angry guests kept awake by noise. Minors can legally invalidate rental agreements that obligate them to pay for damages after the fact, so hotels were often stuck with repair bills.
Under a law that took effect in 2000, hotels can require minors unaccompanied by adults to provide documents signed by parents or other responsible adults agreeing to pay all damages to hotel property. Innkeepers must apply the policy uniformly to all unaccompanied minors. Hotels can also refuse rooms to minors if innkeepers believe the rooms would be used for parties by unaccompanied minors, according to California Hotel & Motel Association guidelines.
Underage Drinking Prohibited
Hotels can lose their liquor licenses and be sued if they allow alcohol consumption on their premises by guests under the legal drinking age of 21. Innkeepers can seize alcoholic beverages from underage guests and evict underage individuals found to be drinking. They can enter the private rooms of guests of any age if they suspect alcohol is being consumed by underage individuals.