Lost in translation – Hotel accommodation

The way in which hotel rooms are described in the UK is often a source of confusion to visitors from other countries.

On a group tour it may be important to have two separate beds in each room, or for a couple on a romantic trip you probably want to be sure you get one big bed.

Key terms in use in the UK are :

Single room – a room with one single bed.

A single bed in the UK may be 2 feet 6 inches (0.76 metres) or 3 feet (0.90 metres) wide. Single rooms are often small rooms and can be tight on space. They may have an en-suite shower but this also can often be very compact.

Single occupancy room – a twin or double room for use by one person.

Twin room – a room with two single width beds

Most accommodation in Scotland does not offer two queen size beds, and rooms are designed for just two adults to share. One notable exception to this is the Fairmont St Andrews Hotel, where twin rooms do have 2 double size beds.

A twin bedroom at the Fairmont St Andrews

Double room - a room with one double width bed.

  • A standard double in the UK is normally 4 feet 6 inches (1.4 metres) wide
  • A king size double in the UK is normally 5 feet (1.5 metres) wide
  • A superking double in the UK is normally 6 feet (1.8 metres) wide

There can be confusion on the terms used to describe a double room as the American 'queen' size term is sometimes also used. If you are in doubt, ask the accommodation to tell you the actual width of their beds. King size or Superking beds are increasingly common options – a Superking is often two single beds zipped together, so the accommodation has the option of using the room as a twin or a double.

A double bedroom at Sandown House in Nairn

Suite – A suite is usually used to indicate a larger than standard room with a sitting area. The sitting area is not necessarily separate to the sleeping area. The size, and styling, of suites will vary considerably by accommodation from simply a slightly larger bedroom with a sofa to luxurious top of the range suites with generously sized, separate, lounges as well as dining areas.

Family room – intended for children to share with parents. Some hotels have rooms with additional sofa beds, or can offer a fold away or 'put you up' bed. These are normally intended for children or teenagers to use, rather than to accommodate 3 adults in the same room. Adult triple rooms are not common, but can sometimes be found in guest houses in golfing towns, such as in St Andrews.

A family room at the Apex Waterloo Place in Edinburgh

Ensuite accommodation – the room has a bathroom or shower room that is accessible only by you and is part of your private accommodation area.

Private bathroom – the bathroom or shower room is separate to the bedroom.
You have to exit the bedroom, often into a communal hall, to access the bathroom. Where guest house accommodation has private, rather than ensuite, bathrooms, they will often provide a robe for guests to use.

Further information :

Published: 31 December 2022