Who’s Sleeping in All These Hotel Bunk Beds?

Michaela Bechler

What is it about the absolute childhood joy of sleeping in a bunk bed? I didn’t have one—much to my dismay—but found myself green with envy when a sleepover revealed a classmate’s stacked sleeping quarters. Eventually, I got my turn at camp, and in my freshman-year dorm (climbing in and out of bed quickly lost its appeal). I never imagined I’d get a chance to revisit the option when booking a room in cities across the country.

From the Ace in New York to The Siren in Detroit, chic hotels intended to appeal to young travelers are bringing back the cubby-like, kid-beloved bed. The bunk rooms vary: private and shared, twin and double mattresses, and as little as two beds in a room to as many as eight. Some rooms are tiny, seeming to necessitate the layered set-up. Others are large, with plenty of room to move about and store luggage. There are privacy screens, personal outlets, and reading lights—so why skip the traditional room and veer towards a summer camp style of sleeping (especially as an adult)?

First off, it tends to be a more affordable option. “The bunks are really popular for people who travel together,” Avi Brosh, founder of Palisociety, tells me over the phone. “Instead of the traditional double queen option, which can be pricey because it’s big and has two beds, the bunk works well.”

The Seattle Palihotel originally anticipated families to use the special arrangement: all of their bunks connect to another room with a king bed. “It’s more fun for the kids to have a bunk than a rollaway bed. That was the idea going in,” Brosh adds.

“Even larger hotels are joining in on the childlike fun. First introduced at Lightstone’s Times Square hotel, the decision to include bunk beds at four other Moxy Hotel locations was partly about maximizing the space of the room. “Filling a room with traditional beds being side by side would have been the easy answer, but capitalizing on the vertical space was a better opportunity, especially given our target audience,” Aliya Khan, vice president of Global Design Strategies for Marriott International (which owns Moxy), told Vogue. Moxy originally anticipated the rooms to attract small groups of students and young travelers, but have seen families with children and bachelorette parties make the most out of them as well.”

Moxy Chelsea's bunk rooms make the most of their small space.
Moxy Chelsea's bunk rooms make the most of their small space.
Photo: Courtesy of Moxy Hotel

Vogue’s Alexandra Gurvich is one of these travelers; she’ll embark later this month on a bachelorette party in Miami. Her group (average age: 28), will be staying in Freehand Hotel’s “Super 8” room, which features four twin bunk beds with frames made by Amish craftsmen, two en suite bathrooms, and lockers to store their items.

“We were weighing out options and all of the hotels in Miami would have been expensive, plus we would have had to get multiple rooms. The Airbnbs weren’t that close and we still wanted to feel like we were staying in a hotel,” Gurvitch says. She’s stayed in this type of room before and found it preferable to have her own bed, even if it was a bunk. “It’s fun and helps with camaraderie,” she added.

Bunk beds at the Freehand New York.
Bunk beds at the Freehand New York.

Andrew Zobler, founder and CEO of Sydell Group, which owns and operates the Freehand Hotels, The Line hotels, and the NoMad hotels, thinks bunk beds are here to stay. “The typical ‘double double’ room category often leaves little space for living,” he notes, while the vertical arrangement can make a home away from home feel a bit more breathable. With more thoughtful design (and better mattresses) than a hostel, but a lower price point and increased giggly sleep-away vibe than a typical hotel room, the option appeals to an out-and-about traveler that has never wanted or needed a suite. And as the common spaces of hotels expand—Moxy Chelsea has dining and drinking concepts by TAO Group and Francesco Panella, while the Freehand hotels are host to the famous Broken Shaker waterholes—a playful nook fully fits the bill. Now you just have to decide, dibs on top or bottom bunk?

See the videos.