I had to share a bed with a coworker on a business trip

I’m off for the holiday, so here’s an older post from the archives. This was originally published in 2016.

A reader writes:

Some coworkers and I recently went on overnight travel, and the plan was to have us split two hotel rooms. Sharing a room with people I work with is less than my favorite thing, but we’re a nonprofit, and it has been decided that this is what we’ll do to save money, so I grit my teeth and vent later if needed to friends and family.

I expected this trip would follow the standard room sharing format, and that I would probably be the one who ended up sharing a room with my boss. However, there were some unexpected changes that ultimately resulted in three people sharing one room with two beds. Those last two points I did not realize until the moment we walked into the room. My stomach dropped when I saw the beds. As the more senior of the two, I quietly told my coworker to take the extra bed for themselves; through what remaining crumb of fortune there was, it ended up that I shared a bed with Coworker instead of Boss.

I hope it doesn’t require much explanation to convey how very, very upset I was to have to share what amounted to every last inch of personal space. It’s bad enough to lose any potential downtime during these trips because I am sharing a room with a coworker who usually is more interested in continuing work conversations late into the night, or who snores, or who talks in their sleep, or who gets up an hour before I need to, or who simply by virtue of their presence means I won’t be able to take my brain out of work mode after a 12- or 14-hour day. But to share a bed?! There is a very, very short list of people who I want to share a bed with, and no matter how much I will ever like the people I work with, they will never, ever be on that list. I have enough things to worry about on these trips. Kicked or being kicked by my coworker as we toss and turn, or not being able to actually sleep because there is a strange person in my bed, should not be one of those things.

To me it is so incredibly obvious why you should NOT EVER SHARE A BED WITH A COWORKER. However, when I made a comment about it just as an aside to my coworker, Coworker replied wondering why bed-sharing was a problem, and I found myself at almost a complete loss for words to explain why this was so out of bounds. My manager never made any comment about the room or beds, either, and I suspect that they saw nothing wrong with the arrangement.

I plan to bring this up with Boss, but I’m having difficulty on finding words that would be effective when I’m the only person who seems to find what happened unreasonable and unprofessional. Seeking advice from friends and family doesn’t bring my phrasing out of the “apoplectic” category. Do you have any advice you could share any advice on how to bring this up like a calm and reasonable adult?

Your letter has given me nightmares.

Under no circumstances is it reasonable to expect you to share a bed with a coworker.

Good lord.

Was the front desk not willing to send up a cot, at least?

In any case, yes, yes, yes, speak to your boss. Say this: “Somehow on our last trip, Jane, Lucinda, and I ended up booked into a room with only two beds, and Jane and I ended up having to sleep in the same bed. I don’t know if it was intentionally booked that way or if it was a fluke. I’m not comfortable sharing a bed with a coworker, and I’m sure others aren’t either. I want to make sure we’re not intentionally booking people that way. Also, if it somehow happens again, I want to make sure it’s okay for me to expense a separate room at the hotel for one of the people.”

I don’t think she’ll push back too strongly because sharing a bed with with colleagues is not normal (despite your coworker’s weird stance), but if she does, say this: “I’m just not comfortable with it and don’t want to do it again.” If necessary, you can add, “Sleeping in the same bed as someone is an intimate activity, and we can’t require employees to do that.”

This is a reasonable position to draw a line on.

As for the room-sharing, separate from the bed-sharing … It is indeed true that there are some industries where sharing hotel rooms is the norm, like academia and some nonprofits, but frankly I think there are times when it’s reasonable to push back on that as well. I come from nonprofits too and I get the desire to be responsible with money — and I shared some hotel rooms with coworkers in my 20s, so I know that it’s a thing that happens although Never Again, Holy Hell, No, Never Again — but there’s a point where it’s just not reasonable to ask that of people, especially senior people, and especially on particularly draining trips or when there would be three of you (!) in the room. You know your organization best so you know if there’s room to advocate change there, but I wouldn’t write it off.

But sharing a bed? Sticking with a flat “I’m not comfortable doing that again” is the way to go here. And then follow through — if you ever find yourself in that situation again, pick up the phone, call the front desk, and get an additional room. Part of business travel is that you sometimes need to adjust your travel arrangements on the fly, and discovering that you’ve been booked into an intimate slumber party certainly qualifies as a good reason.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. Cold and Tired*

    As a former business traveler in an industry that very much gives everyone their own hotel room, this is truly my worst nightmare on every level. Just sharing a room is bad enough, but a bed? Ugh.

    1. Old Cynic*

      I once worked for a private company that did very, very well for the owners. I needed to go to a conference with a couple of colleagues and the CFO wanted to share a room with me “to save the Smiths some money”. No way, pal. Not gonna happen.

    2. Artemesia*

      I learned to draw the line when I was traveling with two men I worked with. I of course had a separate room, but the hotel had overbooked and only had one room for the two guys. The senior person jsut said ‘that is not possible’. We booked two rooms; we need two rooms. After much fussing and ‘why can’t you share tonight’, they finally walked one of them to a nearby hotel and they got their single rooms. I would have caved before that — it was great to see someone just hold the line.

      As a young academic with very little in the way of travel funds I often shared a room at conferences and as a grad student I occasionally shared a room with several people — but these were people I could choose to room with and it was the norm then. Never again.

    1. AnotherLadyGrey*

      Agreed. In the immortal words of Cordelia Chase “I thought I was going to faint while barfing!”

    2. Emetophobe*

      I can’t wait for this phrase to go out of fashion, it makes me feel quite viscerally unwell when I run into it.

      1. Garblesnark*

        Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I’m all about not perpetuating ableism and hadn’t thought about it from this angle. I’ll think of something different to say next time.

  2. Llama Llama*

    Granted I don’t work for a nonprofit but I am fully in the stance that if the company can’t afford to put an employee in their own room then there shouldn’t be a trip.

    1. Falling Diphthong*


      Like, of course it’s less expensive. Not covering flights is less expensive. Not covering meals is less expensive.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        So is making everyone sleep on benches at the bus station. There’s tons of stuff that’s cheaper if you eliminate any reasonableness or care for your employees!

        To quote Bill Corbett: Y’know, drainage runoff is cheaper than everything here.

          1. Library Lady*

            The fact that there are two people on here who have seen the Grocery Witch short aside from me makes me so damn happy

    2. Michelle Smith*

      I do work for a nonprofit and have always had my own room. One time my boss needed to borrow a wifi hotspot from me and she was uncomfortable even coming to my room to grab it from me. I like that level of boundaries, personally. I don’t think I could work for a place with different expectations.

      1. MsM*

        Also a nonprofit veteran. The one time I shared a room, it was because my colleague and I had such totally opposite schedules that we basically just traded off when we were in there, and it was very much framed to us as “you don’t have to do this if you’re not comfortable with it.”

      2. CowWhisperer*

        I am a teacher and I shared a room with two colleagues for 5 nights this summer.

        We were at an adult language immersion camp and the options were share a room with colleagues or share a room with strangers.

        We did fine – but we were very respectful of each other’s needs, primarily used the room for sleeping and were in the middle of summer vacation so didn’t see each other for weeks on either side.

        So … essentially has no application for most jobs, lol.

    3. Worldwalker*

      Or in A room. Didn’t we get a letter a while back where the nonprofit employer expected them to stay in a campground?

    4. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      I worked for a nonprofit in an industry where you could expect to be traveling for a week at a time about half the year, and room were shared as a matter of course. Old timers would talk about the bad old days when the expectation was you’d bring your camping gear to shave the the hotel costs off our bids…

  3. NotRealAnonForThis*

    ::jaw drops::

    At some point in the mid 00s, the company I worked for completely re-assessed its travel policies when it became obvious that it wasn’t *just* men in roles that had to travel for the company. It was amusing that I *obviously* got my own room as the most junior employee on my first trip, while even the company VP shared (he put me in his reservation at check in when it dawned on him that “this isn’t going to work”), and it led to an immediate “obviously employees of different genders do not share hotel rooms”. Within another year or so it was “know what? We aren’t going to pretend that everyone is cis het male or female, so we’re just going to not share rooms anymore from here on out.”

    Twas for the best.

    1. CowWhisperer*

      I had a great field experience where four male colleagues shared one room at the station and I got a whole room to myself.

    2. aqua*

      I had a work trip a while ago where they knew I was agender aka not a man or a woman and still put me in a shared room. With a female intern. I declined to go on the trip.

      1. king of the pond*

        Let me guess… you’re AFAB, so clearly, you go in the same box as the female intern *rolls eyes*

  4. Kelly*

    This is absolutely nightmare fuel for me. When I was in academia I had to share a hotel room with a coworker who HATED me (she was awful and condescending so the feeling was mutual). That was bad enough without actually having to share a bed. Even my awful, toxic boss who cut corners at every point possible, including not mentioning our per diem until after the trip quite coincidentally, got me my own room for a conference.

  5. Lea*

    I wonder if the colleague who is ok with it is very young? I was a lot more loose about this when
    I was 23 than I am now in my 40s. I would honest to god book a separate room at this point even if I had to pay for it cause absolutely not

    1. Melissa*

      Same here– I can afford one night in a hotel (I mean, it wouldn’t even have to be the same hotel! I could go to the cheap place a few miles away!) if the alternative is sleeping IN a bed with someone I work with. That’s why we have credit cards.

    2. Nope nope nope*

      this is a great point. I shared rooms and even beds with people when traveling to conferences in my 20s and it wasn’t a big thing, but at 44, I would not share a hotel room even with a close friend, much less a colleague. If we aren’t, ahem, intimate, then you’re sleeping in another room, period. haha

    3. Jaybeetee*

      Yeah, I was thinking I wouldn’t have found this outrageous in my 20s, because I was used to traveling on a shoestring, sleeping in dorms, bedsharing with friends to save money, etc. And in my 20s I still wasn’t that removed from high school field trips where you shared hotel rooms with other people who you hopefully liked.

      Now in my late 30s? Oh hell naw. I guess I could see my way to sharing a hotel room with a colleague if I really needed to for some reason, but a bed?? Nothing doing. If you can’t afford to give me my own bed (let alone my own room), you can’t afford to send me on this trip.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, same to this. In my 20s this is totally a thing that happened and I was fine with it (and as far as I could tell the rest of us were too). It helped that I was working for a nonprofit in another country where this sort of thing is less weird. But many years later I would not be so okay with it. I’ve had to share a room on a business trip once when there was a mixup with the rooms and we had one night where we were short a room. Coworker I liked, it was fine, and we managed for that night (although we were both happy to have the rest of the week to ourselves). But sharing a bed would have been not okay! Unless there’s been a natural disaster or something and that’s the only way people can have shelter, we can all figure out separate beds or a cot or whatever is available.

      2. Maeve*

        I’ll share a bed if it’s MY choice (I mean I actually shared a bed with a coworker in a hotel recently but it was because we were seeing Taylor Swift in LA together and it was clearly our choice, we’re both in our 30s…) but being told who to share a bed with…no.

    4. UKDancer*

      Yeah that occurs me. I shared rooms as a student going to conferences so I think it’s a lot more normal for people in their early 20s who are just out of university. I would not be willing to do it with a colleague though as I need my own space.

      Interestingly I was going on a trip with one of my more junior colleagues (early 20s, first graduate job) and she asked if we were going to need to share a room. I hastily explained that no we would not be sharing a room and that was not a thing our company expected of us. We don’t always stay very expensive places (I spend so much time in the Premier Inns around England and Scotland) but you always have your own room.

    5. Zigzag*

      This. When I was 26-27 and working at a gaming company where basically everyone was around that same age and for most of us it was our first or maybe second job after college, it wasn’t unusual at all to share rooms and even (king size) beds at conferences or business trips. I can think of at least 3 occasions where I shared a bed with another female colleague and as far as I know, it wasn’t a big deal to anyone at that point.

      I get that for some it reads as a horror story, and I would not do it now in my mid-thirties, but in that environment and at that time it was just something that was done. (We’re not in the US, if that matters.)

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, was a very normal thing for me as well when I was at uni (including postdoc, so up until early thirties…) and honestly, I’d still be fine doing it with a colleague I’m friendly with, even in my mid-thirties with a “proper job”! However, I’d still be at least very confused if it was suddenly sprung upon me as a cost-saving measure by my company.

        And obviously, those were double beds meant for two people. This somehow sounds more like there were two singles in the room, in which case – wtf, no? Even as a poor student, that would’ve been one step too far!

    6. Freya*

      I would have put up with it in my 20s too, but now I know so much more about my allergies and I feel no need to put up with the several week consequences of a co-worker’s deodorant and soap choices!

    7. fanfix*

      I wondered this, too, although maybe I’m a bit weird: even in my early 20s, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of sharing a hotel suite with a colleague, let alone a bathroom, a hotel room…or a bed (!), especially as I’m a light sleeper and restless to boot. I’d feel anxious the whole time, and it would be a great way for an employer to set me (and a large number of other workers) up for failure.

      I seem very extroverted, but I need time, space, and privacy to recharge at the end of the day. This made a lot more sense when I was diagnosed with ADHD in my early 30s, and now that I understand my own needs better, I’m on Team WFH Forever, and it appears I’m also on Team Never Ever Sharing Hotel Rooms (or Beds) with Colleagues Forever.

    8. allathian*

      My employer’s started asking people to share hotel rooms because of the financial downturn, but never beds. Thankfully this doesn’t apply to me because I work at the head office, where our departmental development days are held twice a year. It is possible to get your own room, but then you have to pay for the difference between a single and half of a double room yourself.

      Thankfully there’s no question of sharing a hotel room with my close coworker when we travel to our annual professional conferences, because my employer draws the line at requiring people of different genders to share a room.

      I’m introverted enough that after a day (and evening) spent in the company of my coworkers I need my own space to wind down. I’m also a very restless sleeper and have to get up to go to the bathroom at least once a night, so having a coworker in the same room would be a bit difficult for me to say the least.

      I mean, I don’t sleep well with my *husband* in the same room/bed, so I’m sure as heck not going to sleep in the same space with anyone else.

    9. I forgot my user name againn*

      Agreed. I used to work in retail. it was the norm to share rooms when we traveled. But now that I’m older. No, I’m not doing
      that, and honestly if I had this column when I was younger, it might have made me rethink the situation back then.

    10. amoeba*

      It also depends on your relationship with your colleagues, I guess – when I was a grad student, the people I travelled with were generally not only colleagues, but also (good) friends of mine. Like, people I also went on holiday with, actually. So, yeah, I was fine to share with them. I’d probably still be fine to share with a coworker I have that kind of relationship with, it’s just much less common in “grown-up jobs”!

  6. mb*

    I’ve had to share a room a few times when a manufacturer whose products we sell was hosting a conference and was paying for the hotel rooms. People were put in rooms together, but never beds. Some years, they gave everyone their own room, other years they paired people up. The only advantage I have is being female in a male-dominated profession. Often, I had my own room because there were no other women, or an odd number and I lucked out. One year, the woman sharing my room had brought her husband, realized the situation, and then booked her own room so I still ended up on my own. It’s heaven. Sharing is terrible, especially for anyone sharing with me as I snore. But sharing a bed is completely unacceptable.

  7. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    Literally cannot fathom why this person went through with it and shared the bed. That’s the point you just nope yourself out of the room, get another room on your own, even go to another hotel if that’s what it takes, but there are zero circumstances where this should ever, ever be a thing. Just remember: no is a complete sentence. Use it. Claim your agency & self-choice!

    1. Nebula*

      What do you do if you don’t have the money to pay for your own hotel room upfront, and don’t have a company card or similar you can put it on?

      1. Release the Quacken*

        Me at least, I would sleep on the floor if I had no money to stay in a separate room. Or call for a cot. Or sleep in the lobby. Or something other than sharing a bed with a stranger.

        1. Ms. Murchison*

          Oh noo you don’t want your breathing apparatus that close to a hotel carpet…
          I actually did sleep in my sleeping bag on a hotel room floor once and struggled to breathe all night.

          1. Overit*

            Thirty years ago, I worked as a professional in a well-funded state agency. We were unionized.
            Nonetheless, the travel work rule was that women staff had to share beds on work trips but men did not. I challenged it, complained to HR and the union and got nowhere. This Rule Could Not Be Changed.
            It finally changed when a junior staffer got promoted and was now eligible for travel. She was fully aware of how incensed we all were about the Rule That Could Not Be Changed. She was a lesbian (out) and she told me, “I am going to get this stupid rule rescinded.” She made a big deal in an all staff meeting about how unfair it was for any woman to have to share a bed with her because reasons. Amazing how fast that Rule That Could Not Be Changed was changed. I bought her dinner on our next trip.

            1. fanfix*

              Your colleague is an absolute legend! This woman is the type of person we need in political leadership and policy positions.

              She made a big deal in an all staff meeting about how unfair it was for any woman to have to share a bed with her because reasons.
              May I ask if she was blunt enough to actually spell the ‘reasons’ out in the meeting, or did she just let it sit there unsaid while she stared them down?

              Amazing how fast that Rule That Could Not Be Changed was changed.
              I’m always amazed by these sudden backflips to something that was supposedly just Completely Set In Stone. Did management actually explain verbally or in writing at any point as to why this rule was suddenly changed?

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          I would definitely let front desk know. The majority of cheap hotels make doubles by pushing two singles (twins) together, so it might just be a matter of a change of sheets to turn them back into separate beds.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Two twins make the width of a king bed, not a double. Though most hotels have queen or king-sized beds to start with. But yes, I would definitely start with calling housekeeping!

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            This is probably one of those different-countries-have-different-expectations things, but I’ve never seen a room option for two single (twin) beds in the USA at a mainstream chain hotel. It’s always two doubles or queens or one king as the booking options for standard hotel rooms. (Outside of suites of various kinds, where twin beds are also pretty rare outside of places that focus really strongly on families such at hotels near/at theme parks.)

            The only time I’ve seen what you describe with a convertible king or two twins here was in a vacation rental house where one of the bedrooms was furnished that way.

            As a note to people elsewhere in the thread, cots are also something that a hotel only has so many of and will run out of if lots of people are packed into rooms for a conference beyond whatever level of cot-use they have typically and keep supplies on hand for (this is also true of mini-fridges if they’re not standard in the rooms). They also will sometimes not be able to add a cot to certain room types (I seem to recall times when they’d add a cot to a one king room but not a two queen room).

        3. turquoisecow*

          yeah, hotels usually have cots. As a kid in a three-kid family, we’d often get a cot for my sister because hotel rooms only come with 2 beds generally and my parents couldn’t afford a second room.

        4. Orv*

          My experience is a lot of hotels won’t do cots or rollaway beds because the fire codes don’t allow it.

      2. Jackalope*

        Yeah, I’ve definitely had times when this would have been a problem financially. If I had the option I would try it but that won’t always be affordable. And depending on where the hotel is located, I’d you don’t have a car then transportation might be an issue if you’re planning to try a different hotel.

        1. Nebula*

          Yeah this was kind of my point by asking. Saying that you couldn’t possibly fathom why someone would go through with it – well, not everyone has the option to just up and leave.

      3. 4555*

        I would never be in that situation because financially responsible people have credit cards and live below their means.

        Yeah, maybe OOP is in some weird situation where they CAN’T POSSIBLY pay for another room and they CAN’T POSSIBLY sleep on the floor and CAN’T POSSIBLY get a cot…but they didn’t say any of that, and it’s a lot more likely that there’s a serious agency deficit here. Something was telling OOP that they can’t make waves, can’t go against others’ wishes, can’t stand up for themselves, and it’s interesting to think about what that could have been and how they could recover from that sort of lack of self-efficacy.

  8. Yup!*

    Our company used to meet at a halfway point between office A and office B for our overnight holiday party, and we had to pick a colleague to share a room. I was young and thought nothing of it at the time (and always shared with an office friend), but one VP mentioned how uncomfortable it always made him. Now, 20+ years later, I totally get it. I don’t want to share intimate space with a work colleague, friend or no, for a work event. Party or no, it’s work, and work has boundaries, and we should get to close a door at night and be in our comfort space.

    So I don’t get it either.

  9. Kitty Cuddler*

    Once when I was pg, the non profit I was working for had a retreat at a camp. Imagine 30 women in a bunkhouse of bunk beds. It was a three night retreat, but after the first night, I told them I would gladly drive the 45 minutes to get there each morning, but if I didn’t get real sleep, they would end up with a medical emergency of some type!

  10. Stormy*

    The only company I ever traveled for was a nonprofit and I didn’t realize that sharing rooms with a coworker was considered such a no-go elsewhere until I started reading this site! But under no circumstances was I ever required to share a bed with a coworker.

    1. Jules*

      Up until this current job, I had only worked for NPs that had shoestring budgets for travel. On my first trip with this job, I was given my hotel room info and I asked who I would be sharing with. They were like “oh no, everyone gets their own room.” I cannot overstate how much stress was lifted knowing that I had my own space.

  11. They Might Be a Giant*

    When I was in grad school, my advisor’s policy for conference travel was that the plan would pay for a shared room but if we wanted a slow room we would have to cover the (not insignificant on a grad stipend) difference in cost. Sounds reasonable, right? Except that everyone else in the lab was a man, and they all paired up leaving me with the choice between sharing a room with a total stranger or paying extra. I paid extra the first time, but later I brought it up as a gender equity issue and got my solo room paid for.

    1. fanfix*

      Hear, hear! This plot line has no place at all outside Mulder/Scully romance fanfics, and it sure as hell needs to be kept as far away from real life as possible. Good Lord!

  12. Audenc*

    Damn, when traveling for work I often dread when colleagues expect to get dinner together after a long day because I usually want nothing more than to be by myself at that point and out of work mode. I cannot fathom sharing a room, let alone a bed.

    What if one of you has private medical needs, or gets an upset stomach and needs to be on the toilet for a while? Or what if one of you wakes up at 5 a.m. to get a workout in? Or wants to Facetime with their kids at 9 p.m.? Or has insomnia and wants to watch some TV at 2 a.m. to help fall back to sleep?

    1. UKDancer*

      If it’s a multi-day event I usually have dinner with my colleagues the first night (especially if they’re more junior and it’s their first trip). But after that I prefer my own company (after a busy day I like to have some time away from work people).

      So quite often I book a dance class / get a theatre ticket / go to a salsa club as usually my colleagues have no interest in these activities (although I did have an interesting evening with a colleague watching a mediocre amateur production of “Merchant of Venice” followed by a very long discussion over a pint of the rights and wrongs of the situation). We hadn’t spent much time together before and it really gave us a better understanding of each other.

    2. BubbleTea*

      I still have to express milk (for my own comfort, more than anything) if I’m away from my toddler for me than 24 hours. I doubt anyone would expect that given his age, and I’d be really uncomfortable if I had to express in a shared room.

    3. Frieda*

      I was once at a conference and got a terrible migraine overnight and vomited for hours. (Not unheard of for me but it happens maybe once a year, usually not as severely, and I’d failed to bring my medication.) Happily despite the fact that I was sharing my room with a friend, and her kid, and her mom none of them woke up (or at least not that they would admit!) and I was better once the migraine lifted.

      Cannot *imagine* having to impose that on a coworker. Also I now travel with my migraine medication, including an anti-nausea prescription.

  13. Chirpy*

    I work in retail. We used to have a training conference that they’d put people who didn’t live close enough to corporate (basically, anyone over an hour away) up in a hotel. We shared rooms, but even they wouldn’t make you share a bed. And you could pay the difference to upgrade to your own room, though I only knew one person who did, after all we worked retail.

    (Since covid, it’s department heads and managers only, instead of 2-3 people per department, so I haven’t been in years now.)

  14. Release the Quacken*

    Definitely could not do this. I’m a very private person (I might have been willing when younger, as a lot of people here have mentioned), and if I didn’t have the fundage to pay for a separate room, I’d either call for a cot or sleep on the floor. My bed is my own space, and there are very few people I’d share with. Plus I have insomnia, and health issues, and I don’t want to disturb other people.

    1. Angstrom*

      As you said, the number of people with whom I’d want share a bed is very small.

      Of those, the number who’d want to share a bed with me is probably even smaller. ;-)

      None of them are my coworkers.

  15. Washi*

    Nooo! To me there is an extra level of awkward when it involves people at different levels like seems to have been the case here.

    I have not had to share a bed but in my one experience of business travel I had to share a room with a director 2 levels above me and it made me so anxious. I was in my 20s and would not have batted an eye sharing with a same age peer but the situation made me so nervous about somehow remaining professional even while literally unconscious. (My biggest fear was drooling or farting in my sleep.)

    I think noting this potential source of anxiety for more junior colleagues might also help bring it up?

  16. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Not quite relevant, but John Adams and Benjamin Franklin had to share a bed once on a business trip. John Adams wrote an amusing letter to his wife about it afterwards. John had a head cold and Ben insisted on having the window open and pontificated about the benefits of open windows while they were falling asleep. I recommend reading the letter.

    1. LucyHoneychurch*

      I did a tour once of old trains, and was appalled to discover that in the old days, people had to share these tiny beds on a train with a complete stranger. LOL, times were definitely different.

      1. Angstrom*

        In “Moby Dick”, Queequeg and Ishmael(the narrator) share a bed at the inn where they first meet.

        1. Annie*

          Very common in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America (and presumably other places and before then) to be expected to share a bed in an inn with a stranger.

      2. UKDancer*

        I think people had a much lower expectation of personal space back then. If you look at parts of England following the industrial revolution people lived in much closer proximity and the housing density was much greater. Also people didn’t have ensuite bathrooms for much of history in the UK. I mean my mother grew up in a 2 bedroom house without an indoor bathroom or toilet in the 1950s.

        So I think what people expected was different then. Now people have a much higher expectation of privacy and want toilet facilities to not be shared.

        1. Gem-Like Flame*

          Yes, there WERE different expectations of privacy in the 18th and 19th centuries – and sharing a large bed at an inn was commonplace. This, by the way, has led to some whopping misunderstandings by people who are unaware that this (A) was once standard practice and (B) didn’t have sexual undertones. “_________ must have been gay because he shared a bed with another man when both were at an inn, enroute to other towns”? Ah, no, not necessarily! Be sure to check up on your social history before making these assumptions!

          1. Goldfeesh*

            Yeah, a lot of people have made mental (and quite possibly real) fanfiction over Abraham Lincoln and his friend Joshua Speed for that reason.

      3. Worldwalker*

        Thomas Jefferson had a blanket sewn up the side into a sack that he used when he was expected to sleep in someone’s bed with the someone still in it. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.

    2. allathian*

      Nearly everyone also shared a bed with their siblings when they were kids, usually regardless of gender at least until they hit puberty.

      I shared a room with my sister when we were teens and lived in a 55 metres square (about 600 sq ft) 1-bedroom apartment, while our parents slept in the living room with a curtain separating the bed from the rest of that space. Our living room was thankfully comparatively large so that there was enough space for a desk for my parents and for a couch and two easy chairs. All of one long wall was covered by a bookshelf.

      On night trains even today people often share a cabin with strangers (unless they’ve found a first-class cabin, as in Murder on the Orient Express).

  17. Not Australian*

    Umm, only peripherally relevant but I’m astonished nobody’s figured out the obvious (and well-tried, by folks who go to media cons) solution of separating the mattress from the base: one person gets the mattress on the floor, the other sleeps on the bed base – which is usually padded. I agree that bed-sharing – even room-sharing – should never be necessary in a business context, but for people who have to put up with it in other circumstances there *are* ways of making it work.

    1. Ms. Murchison*

      Not sure what part of the world you’re from, but I have no idea what you’re talking about with a “padded bed base.” Never seen anything like that around here and there’s no way hotels are going to buy some kind of box spring with extra padding when it’s not intended to be laid on. And plenty of hotel rooms don’t have enough floor space for the mattress, much less leave enough room to safely exit in case of fire.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, most box springs are not padded, if the hotel bed even has one. And you’re also correct about the floor space. So this seems like a non-starter.

          1. econobiker*

            I’d only done the box spring and mattress separation sleeping method when in college while on a party bender for St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah GA. This was with 10 (yes ten) total students of mixed genders staying in just one (yes 1!) cheap-cheap and run-down motel room. And the only reason the box spring sleeping worked then was because we were all sleeping with our clothing still on after much alcohol was consumed…

    2. Dahlia*

      There’s no world in which I am sleeping directly on a hotel mattress. If I’m already calling for extra sheets, I’m just gonna call for a cot.

  18. Butterfly Counter*

    Back when I traveled for soccer in college, it was pretty normal to book three women to a room with 2 beds understanding that there’s going to be some sharing. Most of us were pretty close friends and room assignments were based a lot on those friendship groups. But even then, there was often discussion of making pillow walls to prevent accidental nighttime snuggling.

    Basically, I’m saying that even when there are close friendships happening, sharing a bed can be a little much. Doing that with a coworker at my age now would be 100% mortifying.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      In college, especially when it’s a club sport/activity, sharing is the default.

      Even as a rugby referee, at larger events, the expectation is two to a room – the economics of the sport at the amateur level aren’t to the point where individual rooms for everyone is feasible; and I can speak to this as someone who has to run the numbers on such things.

    2. Lizzianna*

      Yup. I was on the debate team in college, and we either shared a bed or someone slept on the floor. With our budget, we either slept 3-4 to a room or we cut the number of tournaments we could travel to by half.

      It was one thing when I was 18-22 doing an optional activity, but not as a professional adult who is traveling for work.

  19. Ms. Murchison*

    When I was younger and working in a public service industry, I thought nothing of sharing rooms, until I shared a hotel room at a conference with a coworker who snored so loudly… well I had no idea the human body was capable of making sounds like that. I got absolutely no sleep the first night and to this day wonder what she was thinking agreeing to that arrangement. Apparently her husband had learned to sleep through it, but when she realized that I wouldn’t be able to sleep for the entire four-day conference, she got herself another hotel room, bless her. Even noise canceling headphones wouldn’t have been able to shut out her snoring.

    1. Miriam Collins*

      This happened to me once. I considered sleeping the bathtub. Then I remembered I had my Walkman (dating myself here). I put it on the radio setting between stations and the white noise muffled the snoring enough for me to finally get to sleep.

    2. allathian*

      According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the loudest measured snore so far has been 111.6 decibels, the equivalent of an ambulance siren driving right past you. A standard fire alarm, loud enough to make most people clamp their hands over their ears, is about 85 decibels.

    3. WendyinCLE*

      I once traveled to a conference with my boss, and we shared a room (because nonprofit, of course). At the time, I was going through a very messy divorce and sleep was usually fitful for me. Of course, my boss was a snorer. A championship snorer, who could wake the dead.

      After about 3 hours of her snoring (and me crying), I had enough. Grabbed my stuff, headed to the lobby (probably 1am) and got myself my own room. My boss was INCENSED the next morning. She was so inexplicably mad at me, and admonished me for not discussing it with her first. HOW was I supposed to do that? YOU WERE ASLEEP.

      The drive home was so, so painful. She wouldn’t speak to me. I still don’t understand why she was so mad. I left that job pretty quickly thereafter, because she was terrible in many other ways as well.

  20. LHOI*

    I have worked in nonprofits for the entire 15 years of my working life and I have never ever not once been asked to share a hotel room with a colleague, let alone a bed. If you can’t afford hotel rooms for the number of staff who “need” to be somewhere…reassess that need. Or reassess the hotel. Or reassess your GD budget. My goodness.

    ESPECIALLY sharing a room with your boss! The potential for this influencing your working relationship is just…outrageous.

  21. Cj*

    I’m a little confused as to if the boss and manager are the same person. first they said they would be splitting two rooms, and assumed they would be sharing a room with their boss. then they said three people ended up staying in one room, so I’m assuming that two rooms were not available so they all stayed in one room. they say they needed to share a bed with their manager, but it sounds to me like they are using boss and manager interchangeable.

    they said they intend to bring it up with their boss, but that still doesn’t clarify to me that boss and manager aren’t the same person.

    Alison’s response assumes that they are not the same person, and that the boss doesn’t know about it. if they are the same person, the letter writer would still need to make the same points when they talk to their boss, but that means that their boss would be much less likely to understand or to be willing to make changes in the future.

    1. Happy*

      Yeah, I also read it as if they were the same person, so the boss would already be well-aware of what happened.

  22. Frodo*

    I have way too much gas in my system to make this a pleasant experience for any coworker. Between the farting and snoring, I don’t even share a hotel room with my best friend.

  23. Miriam Collins*

    For 28 years I worked in a small academic office (1.5 people) where the half-time director changed every 5 years. Conferences were always nicer when the director was male since that meant I got a room to myself. Thankful I never had to share a bed!

  24. ThattDaneGrl*

    In addition to the instinctive Hell No, I also have ulcerative colitis. There’s just no way in Pink Elephants, that I could, would EVER share a hotel bedroom, and bathroom with a colleague. One of us would surely expire.

    1. I Have RBF*

      I have IBS-D, severe fragrance allergies, and sleep apnea. No one in their right mind except my spouse would be willing to share a room with me, much less a bed!

      1. It Would Look Like an Accident*

        Spouse only has sleep apnea, and I still won’t share a room with him. White noise is not a thing that works for me. I can’t stand to listen to that machine. He claims to be genuinely afraid I would put a crimp in the CPAP hose and kill him.

  25. AcademicLibrarian*

    I work in academia and sharing rooms is NOT the norm where I work. Sharing rooms is not ok either (and sharing beds is just so so far from acceptable; I would not have consented to that situation, however it came about!).

    We are adults. It is never acceptable to expect coworkers to share intimate spaces of any kind under any circumstances. Adults need private spaces once away from whatever work-related activity they are there for.

  26. Cadmium*

    These companies need to learn that not everyone is cis-het, and just because someone appears to be a certain gender or sexuality, that doesn’t mean they are. Coworkers should not be sharing rooms and absolutely should not be sharing beds. Plus, a lot of us are neurodivergent or introverted and need time away from other people in order to recharge so we can function.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes and even those of us who are borderline extroverted don’t always want to share a room with strangers. I’m extroverted at work but don’t like people in my personal space after a day being around them doing work stuff. I need peace without other work voices or peoples’ irritating habits to switch off and recharge my batteries.

      I can count on one hand the number of people I’d share a room with and none of them are my colleagues.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Husband, mother, sister. That’s pretty much it. Especially sharing a bed.

        I’m presuming this isn’t a “trapped in a snowy cabin with only one cot” type situation.

    2. Chirpy*

      Yeah, this was actually the worst part about sharing a room with a coworker. I’d much prefer to watch TV or read a book, instead of doing that dance of “how much socializing am I expected to do and when can I reasonably just go to bed?”

      The worst year was when I shared a room with a party girl who insisted we go out to a bar. I was then stuck in an old people townie bar in a strange city trying to get her not to notice I’d only had one (gross) beer, and also sitting by myself because she found one young guy to flirt with. I didn’t want to leave her even if there had been a second cab/uber available in the whole small town on a week day, because she’d already had something like 6 drinks before we even got to the bar…she wanted to go out because she’d drunk everything she’d brought with her by like 7pm. I don’t think I had the phone number of the manager who drove us to the conference, but I also didn’t want to get her into trouble…

  27. WillowSunstar*

    Ugh, I would never be able to share a bed with a coworker. I have eczema and the itching is always worse at night, even when I try to mitigate it with antihistamines, lotion, etc. So I’d be the one making the other person miserable, and I’d feel guilty for sure. I probably wouldn’t take the sort of job where travel is required though, for that reason and other health reasons.

  28. JustaTech*

    This is my mom’s story from back in the 70’s when she was starting out in higher-ed development/fundraising.
    My mom and her boss were on a trip to visit several donors who lived well away from things like highways or hotels, and so one donor offered to put them up for the night (genteel Southern hospitality). Only after they had arrived and finished the day’s activities (and it was far too late to leave) did they discover that there was only one guest room with a single full bed (so narrower than a queen).
    Even relatively fresh out of college my mom was horrified, as was her boss, but as they had really no other choice (can’t complain to the donor!) they had a hideously uncomfortable night of lying completely still to not touch each other.

    After that the trips were re-arranged to make sure there was at least the option of a hotel.

  29. JHS*

    I once, as a postgrad, shared a room with two others from my university and a bed with one, but that was all agreed beforehand, everyone was happy with the saved money, and we were good enough friends to know that it wouldn’t be uncomfortable (and again, agreed ahead of time when picking the hotel room, knowing there were no 3-bed options). But the key word there really is ‘friends’. Would I do it with my colleagues now? Not a chance! I wouldn’t even share a room, not least because my chronic allergies would make me the nightmare roommate…

  30. Anatosuchus*

    Hmm, despite my tardiness I would just like be the first to add “those aren’t pillows!” to the mix.

  31. Greatest Blue Heron*

    That is completely unacceptable. I’d already not be ok with sharing a room but I’ve worked at a non-profit that pinched every single penny. Maybe coworker reacted that way because either:

    a) they thought OP meant it was weird to share with them specifically, rather than generally. Even if OP was clear, some people will still make it about themselves.

    b) They are the type of person who can just lay down, close their eyes, and sleep. Because of this ability, they cannot fathom other people having difficulty with sleep. I am related to such a person, so they truly exist, and they’re super obnoxious about it. Saying, “JUST.LAY DOWN. AND. CLOSE.YOUR.EYES.” very slowly and loudly.” does not confer this ability on others, no matter how many times they do it.

    Yeah, sharing a bed with a colleague (especially with zero notice) is too much.

    1. Freya*

      My husband is one of those asleep-within-five-minutes people. He has learned to not be a pain about me reading (on my phone) under the covers while I wait for my evening meds to kick in, because I am under the covers and not accidentally waking him up with the light.

    2. allathian*

      My husband’s like that too. That’s why he took care of 90% of the night feeds of our son when he was a baby, even when he was working and I was on maternity leave. (Our son was born hypoglycemic and underweight and wasn’t allowed to lose any of his birth weight, meaning that he was on donated mother’s milk in NICU and on breastmilk and formula when we got home. My husband slept in the same room with the baby and brought him to me to feed a few times a night. He was asleep again 5 minutes later. I took much longer to fall asleep, no matter how tired I was.)

    3. Dog momma*

      That’s my husband.. ” just close your eyes”. But he was in the army for 8 yrs so…& currently takes a muscle relaxant every night & just falls asleep. Me I need to read til at least 11pm & still! wake up at least once to go to the BR. . depending on how much water I have had in the evening. The other night I finally fell asleep at 3 am & had to be up by5. It runs in cycles.
      its hard.

    4. whingedrinking*

      Honestly, what do these people think we insomniacs are doing? “Oh, thanks for telling me! I wondered why being nailed to a cross with my eyes superglued open wasn’t working.”

  32. Practical Reasons*

    Oh, hell to the no. Call the front desk and INSIST they send up a cot. They almost always have extra rollaways, and if they say you didn’t reserve it, say you were unaware of the situation and are in need of one now. If they bill you, send the bill to your boss, saying you’re SURE they didn’t expect you to share an actual bed as that would be grossly inappropriate and lead to sexual accusations. (Does not matter if the people are of the same gender or orientation. This is a massive violation of privacy and actually presupposes the gender and orientation of all involved.)

    Say you were highly uncomfortable at sleeping intimately with a coworker. Same room, OK, but same bed is unethical. Use whatever reason you have at your disposal – your SO objects, YOU object, your religion objects (which it very well might) or society objects. Honestly, I’d look for another job. This isn’t going to get any better.

    1. Lou*

      Often, these hotel double beds are actually 2 singles connected, so they might even be able to split the double. In future, do ask about that and then the cot option.

    2. Orv*

      This depends on the hotel and the city they’re in. Sometimes local fire codes don’t allow cots or rollaways.

  33. I Have RBF*

    Holy yikes!

    I’m enby, but AFAB. I get clocked as a butch lesbian.

    I work in male dominated fields. When I think about the various female coworkers that I’ve had over the years, there are very few that I would be willing to share a room with, and none that I would share a bed with.

    The latter is just pragmatic. I am a mobile sleeper – I kick and thrash in hotel beds. I sleep with a CPAP, which isn’t silent, and has hose. Even my spouse and I get separate beds.

    Sharing a bed in a work context is such a no go that I would probably try to sleep in a chair or on the floor, with my CPAP plugged in to the wall.

  34. Retired at last*

    I haven’t shared a bed with anyone since I was about 8 years old and my brother and I “tricked” our parents into letting us watch a horror movie (The Birds) and then claimed we needed to sleep together due to potential nightmares.
    The last time I shared a hotel room was some 20 or more years ago with a stranger at a volunteer conference where booking a solo room wasn’t an option – I spent the entire night in the bathroom because I could not cope with it. But I don’t think even that strategy would get me through a situation where I had to share a bed – I’d probably just go and sit in the hotel lobby all night.
    For business travel – in those long ago days, sharing a room was common, but I was generally the only woman, so it didn’t come up. Now it’s generally assumed that everyone gets their own room – though I haven’t needed to travel with anyone in several years and it won’t come up again (yay retirement!).
    These days, even when I travel with my stepsister, we travel as singles (even though that often means paying double) because we want to still be friends at the end of the trip.
    I cannot imagine inflicting my snoring, insomnia and other issues on anyone else.

  35. Majnoona*

    Where in academia is this the norm? Just curious. I’ve been a professor for decades and I have never shared a room with someone, even as a graduate student.

    1. Bad Wolf*

      My graduate program, if the university footed the bill, they expected us to share a room. If we went to a conference on our own dime, we shared beds too because we were poor. It was soooooo gross.

      1. JustaTech*

        I think when I went to a conference as an undergrad (so, even less money unless your parents were footing the bill) all the undergrads shared two hotel rooms, but I don’t think anyone ended up sharing a bed. Though some people might have ended up sleeping on the floor. (Or rather, passing out on the floor, it was New Orleans and not everyone made great decisions about drinking.)

        In middle school we had a school trip where folks had to share beds (hotel rooms in NYC are *expensive*), and I know one girl ended up sleeping in the bathtub because she and her bed-mate got in a fight.

        1. Worldwalker*

          I was in a room (college-era room-stuffing) when one girl ended up in the bathroom because she was on a rather open area of floor, not having understood why the places under furniture were prime spots, and late-arriving drunks kept walking on her. And they woke everyone up when get bit one of them in the leg.

    2. JenLP*

      I coach a college speech team and we frequently share rooms, even as a coaching staff. I’ve even shared beds with other coaches, but they always ask if it’s ok before doing that.

      My first time traveling as a first-year college student, I shared a bed with a senior who told me she was a “cuddler’ and that she might end up cuddling with me during the night. That morning, she then proceeded to go into the bathroom while I was showering to brush her teeth and told me I just needed to get used to it. The team at that time (20ish years ago) would also try to get five in a room sometimes – so clearly no boundaries.

      In grad school, I traveled to a conference where we had to share rooms and ended up sharing with a guy – we were best friends and all but still odd.

      All this to say, that when I traveled for work the first time, I was surprised we didn’t share rooms. My boundaries are all messed up / flexible.

  36. Bad Wolf*

    Back in grad school, we were all poor. So on conference trips, we’d share rooms and beds to save money. We’d book rooms with 2 queens and cram 4 of us per room. First trip, one woman announces she’s allergic to detergents that hotels use. So she put the do-not-disturb tag on our door knob so the room (and bathroom!) never got cleaned and the sheets never got changed. 4 people, 2 beds, 4 days. So gross. I refused to stay in the same room as her after that.
    But yeah. Never again.

  37. Pinto*

    First, I can’t believe your boss didn’t offer to get another room, even if on her own dime. Second, I’m old enough now, that it would have been the action I had taken if she had not. I went n a girls trip with college friends last summer. The plan was to buddy up with 2 to a room. One of the ladies suggested 4 of us share a room to save money. I told her that my days of sharing a bed with anyone other than my husband were long gone. And that was one of my closest lifelong friends. No way am I doing that with a coworker

    1. Former Hotel General Manager*

      I used to run a conference hotel in a major metropolitan area where the entire city would sell out within a 45-mile radius. It’s possible there genuinely weren’t anymore rooms for this person. Hotels sell out just like airlines and every now and then someone like this poor letter-writer gets screwed. It’s a shame, especially when travel is already stressful.

  38. Vio*

    Only vaguely on topic but the question “Was the front desk not willing to send up a cot, at least?” reminded me of a friends funny story about when they (English) had a working holiday in a hotel in the US. A customer asked for their room to have a cot. They were not amused when they found, instead of the folding bed they expected, a crib for a baby. A very angry complaint resulted in their being upgraded as an apology and my friend almost lost their job. Fortunately their boss was understanding on discovering the very different meaning of the word “cot” between American English and British English.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes in the UK cots are for children and babies. If its for an adult its a z-bed, or a put-u-up or a travel bed.

    2. Have you had enough water today?*

      If you asked for a cot here in Australia you would get a folding crib for a baby/toddler. For an adult you would need to ask for a rollaway bed. I love these little language differences between countries that all speak the same language. It is fascinating.

      1. Freya*

        Or a trundle bed – same thing as a rollaway bed, it trundles or rolls under the primary bed when you don’t need it, if you’re buying it for home use.

      2. Glen*

        maybe for you over east – here it would be the futon:)

        There’s actually a lot of regional variation in strine, despite the minimal difference in accents; we don’t wear “swimmers” or “togs”, only “bathers”. We also don’t drink schooners, only pints or middies.

  39. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    *Shrieks quietly and has the vapours

    I’ve never had to share a hotel suite let alone, dear goddess, a bed with a coworker. I’ve never heard of this here even for students.

    Maybe it’s a cultural difference to the US, but in the UK we didn’t share rooms in student dorms in the dark ages of the 1970s (each floor had rows of small locked individual rooms with a communal kitchen and bathrooms)

  40. Panicked*

    I would rather have a 24 hour pap smear than sleep in the same room with a colleague, let alone the same BED. I cannot even imagine how completely uncomfortable that would be. I am confident that I would not sleep, use the bathroom, or breathe for that entire amount of time. Holy moly.

  41. Me1980*

    I rarely sleep in the same bed as my HUSBAND because of my sleep issues!!! With a colleague? Oh.hell.no.

    1. allathian*

      I hear you. I’m the same way.

      I only share a bed with my husband when we travel, and I always sleep poorly when we do. I’m firmly convinced that if we hadn’t stopped sleeping in the same room when our son was born our marriage wouldn’t have lasted. I’m a poor sleeper and if I don’t get enough sleep, I turn nasty.

  42. Meghan*

    This is the stuff of nightmares and I would have demanded a cot or slept in the hotel lobby. No way no how ma’am.

    My company hosted a HUGE leadership event and asked that we all book our own expenses and let them know if anyone wanted to share a room. Why? Because the shared rooms were small “suites” (one bedroom one sleeper sofa) with balconies and nicely located. You know what happened when only two pairs took them up on that? NOTHING because sharing rooms is such an overstep that requiring it wouldn’t even cross our HR’s mind. Sharing a bed? Nooooo

  43. ReallyBadPerson*

    Nope. I briefly worked for a religious organization that required an annual leadership retreat. I had to share a room with a colleague. It was awkward and awful. But sharing a bed? I would have seriously considered going home if possible.

  44. chewingle*

    Naively hoped I’d come here to find a rom-com unfolding, but instead I got this horror story. Good lord, don’t let anyone convince you that any part of this was normal or OK.

  45. Worldwalker*

    I don’t mind sharing a room; my mind has never really moved past the college days of hotel room stuffing at SF conventions. But even then, if I didn’t have my own bed I’d stake out a nice piece of floor! (it’s significant that I like, or at least need, floors; I wake up with my back hating on me if I’m sleeping on anything softer than lightly padded granite) Sharing a bed is a hard no to the point where I would quit on the spot. I have a tropism for heat — I’ve been known to wake up wrapped around a complaining cat. So I’d never sleep because I’d have nightmares about waking up wrapped around my complaining co-worker instead!

    No, no, a thousand times no. I would walk out the door rather than risk being arrested for sexual assault!

  46. Lauren*

    The best solution if you ‘have’ to share a bed with a co-worker, for example, is to first of all to ask for one or more extra sheets.
    Remove all the bedding except for the fitted sheet.
    Then you fold two sheets in half, lengthwise. Place the folded sheets on the bed with the folds in the middle of the bed.
    Replace the blankets/duvet as usual.

  47. Hamster*

    I don’t see what the big deal is, some of my coworkers look like they’d be fun to snuggle up to


    yeah I can’t share a sleeping space with anyone. The only one I ‘ll gladly sleep with is my 3yo. I guess I should be glad this doesn’t come up in my line of work, I’m not sure what I’d do if I was faced with this.

  48. Have you had enough water today?*

    I am not going on a business trip if I have to share a room let alone a bed. If the company cannot afford separate rooms for each attendee then they need to reduce the number of attendees or not go on the trip.

  49. NJB*

    I had to share a room once while on a trip for a local school district, in this ONE instance I did not mind because I had been friends with the sharer for at least a decade prior to employment; however, to share a bed with a random coworker—NOT that just gives me the creeps.

  50. Former Hotel General Manager*

    Former hotel general manager here…

    I’d love to know what events led up to y’all sharing a room. Like, did someone come on the trip last minute? Was the hotel oversold? I’m only wondering because I’m running through all the possibilities of how this may have happened in my head.

    A lot of business travel is booked through third-party sites (Egencia is a big one) that don’t actually guarantee room type. So, your boss may book a room with two double beds for you and a coworker, but in the very fine print at the bottom of the booking, it may advise that your type is merely a preference that’ll be taken into account if it’s available.

    Also, many hotels, nowadays, do not allow cots because they’re against fire codes.

    1. Rm*

      Tell them!! So many time travel booking gets dumped on an inexperienced person who doesn’t know the importance of the guaranteed room type small print

  51. Dread Pirate Roberts*

    A few days ago the BBC website had a story about “The lost ancient practice of communal sleep” – it used to be common practice for colleagues and even strangers to share a bed. A practice that died out in the mid-19th century.

    1. Brian*

      Back in the day, when I was a young buck traveling through Mexico, I’d share hotel rooms, and sometimes even beds with my friends. Mostly young women. Took a lot of cold showers in those days.

  52. Stuff Like That There*

    This actually happened to me! My boss had scheduled an AirB&B for an event, making sure it was cheap enough for everyone to attend. (We were all contract employees, earning commission rather than a salary, and our travel was not covered.) There were three rooms with beds in them, so I figured that my female boss would take the king bed, my female coworker would take one twin and I’d take the other in the second room, and my brand-new male coworker would take the twin by the front door in the third room. Not great, but doable for the purpose of work harmony.

    When I got there I found that my female coworker had invited her male friend to join us, and he’d taken the bed by the front door, leaving me the option of either sharing the bed with my boss, or sharing the room with the two twins with my brand-new male coworker. My female coworker was willing to take whatever option I didn’t.

    I told my boss I had a terrible cold that I didn’t want to share, and I booked myself a hotel room elsewhere. And honestly, I don’t think I was unreasonable.

    1. Book Addict*

      Wait, your boss didn’t kick the random friend out??? I’ve never worked somewhere where a spouse would be allowed to tag along for free, let alone a friend!

  53. iglwif*


    Big boss at a past job was notoriously stingy; those of us who had to travel would say to each other like a mantra, “at least we don’t have to share hotel rooms.” Having to share a BED?!

    My mom once worked for a boss who did make her staff share hotel rooms. She recently told me a truly awful story that is at least as bad as having to share a bed.

    Picture it: a not-great hotel in a small oilpatch town in the late 1980s. My mom, a divorced mother of two, is reluctantly sharing a hotel room with a female colleague. She goes into the bathroom to brush her teeth; she doesn’t lock the door, because she’s just brushing her teeth, and if the colleague decides to brush hers at the same time, oh well.


    In walks the colleague, and very cheerfully sits down on the toilet and STARTS TO PEE.

    My mom is gobsmacked. She does not know what to say, because what is this behaviour?!

    She spits out the toothpaste and flees, and the incident is never spoken of again. She also never again uses a hotel bathroom without locking the door.

  54. anon24*

    I would sleep on the floor. Or in a desk chair. Or in the bathtub. Or in a car. Or not even attempted sleep at all. Literally anything but in a bed with another person (I don’t even sleep well in a bed with my spouse; I got an hour of sleep last night). This sounds like torture.

  55. Brian*

    As a male librarian, I often get my own room at conferences, simply because I have no male colleagues to share with. On the other hand, they convert most of the men’s rooms into women’s rooms…

  56. Msbanapantsthethird*

    I am so relieved to read this post and all the comments! I feel validated. My colleague and I (both female, and introverted) received emails last week telling us that a twin room had been booked for us on an upcoming study day in a city several hours away. We consulted, agreed that we were horrified and that we would separately respond to the event organiser, explaining that sharing would not be possible due to “personal reasons”. We spoke to our male team leader before sending the email as we were both unsure if we were overreacting. Fortunately, although he was quite happy to share a room with a colleague himself, he could see that it’s not a normal thing to expect from professional adults and fully supported us.

    My colleague and I were both prepared to pull out of the study day if our request for separate rooms wasn’t agreed, but fortunately it was. The company providing the training isn’t covering travel costs either, which is pretty unusual in this industry, and honesly the cheapskatery on display here is giving me second thoughts about the whole thing. Study days away are usually a fun escape from real life, and now I’m worrying that they’ll try to take us to dinner at McDonald’s or something.

  57. MissLozzieM*

    I remember this post! I was at uni at the time and thought how unprofessional and that it would be a nightmare to end up like that! Fast forward a few years and I’m out in the professional world and the all of the staff are summoned to head office – most worked interstate. They put us up at the hotel down the road from head office. They didn’t mention that we would have to share rooms. Long story short it was a disaster! They randomly paired people who don’t know each other in rooms together, the worst was the apartment rooms – multiple grown men sharing rooms, sleeping on single beds. Two of my colleagues slept so close to each other they could touch from their beds. Luckily I had family in the area who happily put me up for the few nights and drove me to and from the office. My room partner ended up with COVID and couldn’t attend which meant that my room went to the poor guy who was sharing with the staff member who snored so loudly it could be heard outside the room and down the hall. Thankfully I finished up with the company just before the trip the following year.

  58. adorkable*

    long long ago, I worked at a company that had a new employee retreat as a “treat” for us. Not only was it on an unpaid weekend, but… they rented one house with 2-3 bathrooms for fully 20 new employees. There were two bedrooms: a “girls room” and a “boys room”* and in one of those rooms THREE of us shared the one bed while others made do with sleeping bags on air mattresses and yoga mats.

    truly I could not get out of that job fast enough. I am still friends with one of my bedmates, who was as horrified as I was. I think the other one still works there?!

    * I wasn’t yet out as nb, and this is just one of infinite reasons why that would not have been a safe workplace to do so

  59. IDon'tGetPaidForThat*

    I would have changed my flight home to that night, on the company’s dime, and would have left. With the abundance of sexual harassment suits, it is not worth it for anyone to allow themselves to be put in that position.

  60. Sarita*

    I would have gotten a 2nd room, expensed it, and made it my hill to die on getting reimbursed.

    I’m not splitting a bedroom or bathroom with a coworker unless it is an emergency situation. Like one time our flight was canceled and we could only find one room available anywhere near the airport, so coworker and I decided sharing was the best of a bad situation. Aside from that, I’m not taking any job where the travel policy is splitting rooms.

  61. Elio*

    Nope nope nope. I have had to share a room with another grad student before when our lab group went to a conference. But it was a nice hotel and my roommate was super nice and respectful. No bed sharing!

  62. NotTheSameAaron*

    I once had to share a room with some older female colleagues on a trip. They just slept in the bed and I on the loveseat. I did complain and my boss bought some portable folding camp beds which are a bit awkward, but it beats trying not to fall off a loveseat all night.

  63. aqua*

    I’m going on a residential trip for my grad program soon and they wanted me to share a room. I got an exception due to ADHD but it’s just occured to me I have no idea what gender roommate they would have given me as someone who’s down in the system as non-binary!

  64. Pyjamas*

    Was there a comment on this thread about being forced to share a king-size bed with an asshole who spilled a bowl of jelly-pudding into the bed? I can’t find it and I never heard of jelly-pudding before (UK treat) so can’t have imagined it.

  65. I AM a Lawyer*

    I work at a nonprofit, and we would never require sharing rooms, much less beds. It’s not an excuse.

  66. Cartoonbear*

    There are a couple co-workers in my remote past who I wouldn’t have *minded* sharing a bed with, lol, but thankfully no one ever suggested it until….
    I was working for a small (~125 people) company in the 2010s, and there was one particular woman I worked very closely. (Both of us cis het females, if it matters.) We sat literally inches apart for years, plus we were friendly outside of work.
    Anyway, at some point when we’d both been with the company a few years, we decided we wanted to attend an educational conference related to our jobs which was in Manhattan. (The company was headquartered in DC.) This conference was given by an industry leading organization and no lie, it was not cheap to attend.
    The bosses (3 men) agreed we could go, but said we had to stay in the “Manhattan office” which, my coworker found out, was basically a bachelor crash pad on the Lower East Side (conference was in midtown) which was never professionally clean and had…. ONE BED.
    It was both hilarious and frustrating to explain to these guys why that wasn’t appropriate. They were like “You all sit all up on each other all the time anyway!” We’re like “That’s because the office is too small! And IT IS NOT IN BED!”
    Eventually they came around and we got two hotel rooms in the conference hotel. I think the male bosses consulted the female HR person and she was like “Hells to the no.”

  67. Jaina Solo*

    So as a high school student, I had to share a bed with a teacher on an overnight trip. There were 2 other girls there and my teacher was a woman but instead of paying for a rollaway, the school was just like “share.” My parents were not happy for multiple reasons, including that one of the other girls was the daughter of the teacher. She just refused to share a bed with her. (Like, on another school trip to a camp, she was so upset when she got put her in her mom’s group and there was no bed sharing just being in the same bunk room.) So I got an uncomfortable night of sharing a bed with my English teacher who was not creepy but she wasn’t family. I still think of that and how I’d have raised a stink if I was the parent.

  68. Sleepfartz*

    I have literally gotten Doctors’ notes to get out of sharing a room. I love my partner very very very much but WE can hardly share a room, much less a bed. If I can’t even sleep with the person I choose to love, there’s no way I will share a room with someone I must work with, let alone work FOR.

    Also, I fart in my sleep. Not even my most unreasonable boss should be subject to that.

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