can I bring a friend-with-benefits back to my hotel on a work trip?

A reader writes:

Next month, I’ll be attending a professional conference with several of my coworkers. This will be my first work trip.

I have a friend-with-benefits who lives in the city that the conference is being hosted in. Would it be inappropriate for me to invite her to stay with me at my hotel? If it is, can I stay at her place instead of at the hotel? My coworkers know I have a close friend there (though obviously they don’t know the full nature of our relationship), so me spending time with her during downtime won’t come as a surprise, but what are the ethics/optics/norms of sleepovers specifically?

Don’t parade her drunkenly through the lobby while any colleagues who think you’re married are likely to be milling around, but otherwise you are fine.

You’re an adult, and it’s fine to meet up with a friend in the city you’re visiting. If that friend hangs out in your room with you, it’s no one’s business what you’re doing in there. (In case anyone is wondering why this is different from the guy earlier this month who brought sex workers back to his room, it’s because the details of your situation are different. Most notably, you’re presumably going to be reasonably discreet about your intended activities, and you’re not making your coworkers think you’re drunkenly cheating on your wife.)

If you happen to run into a colleague in the hotel, introduce her the way you would if she were a platonic friend — “This is my friend Jane — she lives in town, so we’re going to have a glass of wine and catch up.”

Two caveats: First, make sure your evening is truly free before you finalize any plans. Sometimes on business trips there’s an expectation you’ll do work socializing in the evenings. Especially at conferences, that can be where some of the most useful networking happens. (Obviously if you don’t plan to meet up until midnight or similar, this is less of an issue.)

Second, you need to be reasonably well rested the next day — and also need to avoid giving anyone else a reason to think you’re not (like a coworker staying in the room next to you who hears audible evidence that you’re up until 5 a.m.). You don’t want to give anyone the sense that you’re prioritizing something social over the reason you were sent on the trip.

{ 224 comments… read them below }

  1. Czhorat*

    I love the balance between “employees are humans and should be able to engage in human activities” and “employees have to present professionally at professional events”.

    I think it’s very easy to prioritize one or the other and come up with unreasonable expectations in either direction.

  2. Stuart Foote*

    I would not bring a romantic partner to my hotel room. Odds are no one will notice, but if they do they will be very likely to find it very strange and unprofessional. I think the expectation is that hotel rooms on work trips are for the worker in question and not meant to be shared with friends/romantic partners. This is even more true if it is a casual relationship, and if the LW is young (which is likely to be the case if this is their first work trip).

    I’m not saying everyone would agree, but that’s the advice I would give a friend if they asked me.

    1. Czhorat*

      I’m with Allison on this, especially if it’s a city the LW doesn’t visit very often. I don’t get the feeling that it’s *just* sex (though that would be fine!) but a long-term friend.

      If there’s time that’s truly free during a trip then you’re free. Let’s normalize adults getting to be adults on their own time.

      1. Emily Byrd Starr*

        “I don’t get the feeling that it’s just sex”

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that exactly what friends with benefits is?

        1. Dahlia*

          That’s not what Czhorat’s sentence said. They said, “I don’t get the feeling that it’s *just* sex but a long-term friend.”

          They’re saying this person is also the LW’s friend. Like. Like the friendship does matter, lol, and there is also sex.

        2. LW*

          Definitely not, at least in this case. We’ve been friends for many years, and in recent years, sometimes we have sex. The friendship is the far more important part of the relationship, though.

        3. tree frog*

          It can mean a lot of things! Basically it just means that you have an ongoing connection with someone, there is a sexual or intimate aspect of your relationship, and you aren’t in a committed romantic partnership. This kind of relationship can be really meaningful, as can other non-traditional relationship structures. Or sometimes, yes, it can be pretty casual. Life is a rich tapestry.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      That is an interesting take, but I don’t think that people would have any issue if the OP was married or in a committed relationship with the person staying in the hotel with them. Why does it matter if a coworker can sleep with a spouse but not a friends w/ benefit?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          People judge each other all the time. Including based on a small amount of information. It’s worth thinking about how this would land to people who know very little about what’s happening.

          For example, if security is a big concern, then introducing “Jane–we went to college together” will land a lot better than “….umm… Jane! Yeah, can you believe this hot person is really impressed by my job and wants to come back to my room to see my files?!

          1. H.Regalis*

            That’s fair. I think it’s also reasonable to factor in whether you need to care about other people’s opinions.

            In this case, source of income in a capitalist society with little-no-social safety net, I’d be especially discreet if I had a reasonable belief it could cause trouble for me.

            If it’s just “people might judge you” and said people don’t have any power over me, they can go pound sand.

          2. H.Regalis*

            To clarify: I don’t mean that as a dig against you, Falling Diphthong. I’m thinking more in terms of how “people may have a negative opinion of you” gets trotted out in a concern-trolling fashion.

            It’s worth evaluating whether or not someone else’s opinion of what you are doing matters in a given situation. Sometimes that does matter, and sometimes it doesn’t; and concern trolls are really good at trotting out ridiculously improbably situations in an effort to control others.

      1. Paulina*

        Actually there still might be issues if the other person was the LW’s spouse. There have been questions about bringing spouses along on work trips before, and the same issue comes up that Alison raised: make sure that after-hours at the conference is really downtime, and check on what other people tend to do. The conferences that I’ve been to usually have a lot of very useful networking in the evenings, and work trips often can expect that the group will spend dinner/early evening talking over things from that day. Expecting that much focus on work can be unreasonable, but being new often doesn’t allow much room for pushing back.

        There are of course more or different issues with it being not a spouse, especially depending on the culture, but irrespective of who the person is, this is LW’s first professional conference and so they’re making first impressions about how they do that. In some ways a spouse coming along can look worse (since at least a local friend isn’t taking advantage of the hotel room paid for by work).

        But it’s not good to restrict oneself a lot solely out of caution, and that can also make a different poor first impression. Key IMO is being flexible and pivoting as needed. They’re friends and want to meet up if that’s a reasonable thing to do; that shouldn’t raise any eyebrows really, and anyone who sticks their nose in about what they’re doing needs more to do themselves. Staying over also shouldn’t be a big deal since a local friend doesn’t necessarily live close to the conference site.

      2. Hermione*

        No, actually, I would have exactly the same reservations about a spouse or long-term partner staying in my hotel room on a work trip.

    3. Lisa*

      “I think the expectation is that hotel rooms on work trips are for the worker in question and not meant to be shared with friends/romantic partners.”

      Not sure where youve gitten this idea. Anywhere I’ve worked, it’s considered totally fine to share the room with a significant other or friend, as long as their other trip expenses are paid separately and it doesn’t interfere with the business purpose of the trip.

      1. BellyButton*

        My company encourages us to bring someone along! When have unlimited PTO and they encourage us to take extra days on either side of a trip to do fun things with our SO. (we are a very high stress/demanding industry and our employees are amazing and work really hard) We are even allowed to book it all through our company travel site, and accounting will take the extra fees off our paycheck. It is awesome!

        In August, I am getting to bring my BF on a once in a lifetime trip that I am going on for work- and I was able to use the corporate discounts they had negotiated so his flights are about 1/3 of what they would be if he was booking on his own.

        My company is exceptionally awesome. :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The company I did temp work for in 2022 was like that — they had a large conference pending and spouses/partners were included in the trip. Part of the work I did for them included updating the flight spreadsheet. In fact, they treated me very well — they included me in their breakfasts and food orders and didn’t act like I was invisible because “she’s just a temp.” All companies should be this good!

          Had they offered me a job, I would have probably taken it and stayed in OldState for longer, but they didn’t have any openings at the time. They told the employment agency they would have kept me if they could, though.

      2. ferrina*

        as long as… doesn’t interfere with the business purpose of the trip

        I think this is key. Work needs to be the priority and be unaffected by whatever happens in off-hours. That includes a responsibility to be well-rested (for the factors you can control). It’s not a vacation, and social plans may need to be canceled if work events come up (like a networking happy hour you didn’t know about)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think this is a really important caveat.

          There’s generic advice like “Don’t invite your mom/spouse/FWB on the first trip–wait until you have a sense of what the norms are, and they have a sense of how professional and competent you are.”

          Also I feel like the mom and spouse in this scenario are occupying themselves during business times and meals if needed, making use of the free hotel room to sleep, and stepping in to be socially charming and support your appearance as a professional with your act together if suddenly called on to do that. There are certainly friends, with and without benefits, who could also pull this off. Probably someone you just met in the bar would not be able to do this as well–at least, you don’t know that about them, since it’s a stranger, and on your first work trip in this job you should be trying not to become a legend except in the realm of quiet professionalism.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I think this and your specific company culture/nature of the trip are the biggest things to consider.

          If your company is very, very conservative or very small and gossipy, it will probably be more trouble than it’s worth to deal with your friend being in your hotel room. Too many opportunities for a coworker to knock on the door with a question/file just as you’re getting down to “benefits,” someone seeing them leave the room early in the morning, and so on. That doesn’t mean you can’t see them! Just maybe no overnights.

          Also, if this is a trip where you’re working during the day but the evenings are free, you’re golden. But if it’s some multi-day conference with lots of schmoozing or dinners and so on, and the expectation is that people are only using the their rooms to sleep, again, more trouble than it’s worth to try to sneak in a little “couple time.”

      3. Lea*

        A friend of mine has brought her mom on multiple work trips! Others have brought spouses etc. I think it’s fine unless you’re being sleazy but given that this person lives in that town I would be inclined to go to their place and then come back to the hotel

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s what I would do. No worries then about coworkers getting wind of any extracurricular “catching-up” activities.

      4. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        In my industry it is. If you have computers or other items with sensitive or confidential information then you shouldn’t bring people back to your hotel room, whether romantically or platonically.

        1. someone*

          By that logic you shouldn’t bring people back to your house if you have a laptop or work from home. Or have children/partners/roommates.

            1. Quill*

              Or an expectation that laptops and documents will be secured when not in use, possibly in ways that aren’t standard in hotel rooms – i.e. a document safe that wouldn’t be great to take on a plane, locking desk drawers, etc.

      5. Third Wicket*

        My wife’s company flat out says they don’t care if I come on every trip. I just can’t spend their money doing so.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I don’t think the expectation is that hotel rooms on work trips aren’t meant to be shared; people bring their significant others all the time on work trips. I think, based on how you’ve phrased parts of this comment, that it’s the casual nature of this relationship that makes it look bad to you.

      You’re obviously entitled to that opinion, but I don’t think that feeling that way inherently makes it weird in general to share a hotel room with someone else nor does it make it likely that the rest of your colleagues are “very likely to find it very strange and unprofessional” if you do.

      1. TechWorker*

        I think there are definitely some companies where bringing your significant other on a work trip is infact not very normal – you might still be able to do it if you really wanted to but it would be considered odd.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          Sure, at specific companies, I just mean in general if someone wrote in to this site and as part of their letter said “My spouse is coming on my work trip so they can site-see while I’m in meetings because they’ve always wanted to see the city” most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash about that.

          1. Velociraptor Attack*

            I think there are two things at play here. If someone wrote asking about their spouse coming with them on their first work trip, everyone would say to talk to their company, get a feel for things, it might be okay and it might be out of step with norms.

            OP’s letter seems more in line with that to me, they say “would it be inappropriate for me to invite her to stay with me at my hotel” which reads to me more like if you had your spouse join you and stay at the hotel instead of just sleeping over after other activities.

          2. Clisby*

            That is my experience. I’ve never done this, but my husband works in a satellite office in SC for a company in Boston. He hasn’t visited the home office in quite awhile, but next time he does I very well might go along. We would pay my expenses, and if I can’t figure out how to occupy myself in Boston for a day or two I might as well just give up. I wouldn’t expect to go with him to any company get-togethers or meals; since we both get up about 6 a.m. we easily might have breakfast together and then go our own ways for the rest of the day.

          3. DannyG*

            My professional society has spouse programs just for that. My meetings would start at 0630 and end around 1600. Wife would do the organized tours from 100o grab a nap then on to the evening reception.

        2. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

          Yeah, probably like the ones that make you share rooms (and beds!!!) with coworkers hehe

      2. BellyButton*

        Not trying to attribute anything to OP’s comment- but when I read it my first impression was it sounds judgmental of the casual nature of the relationship. But, every single place I have worked in my entire career it would not have been an issue to bring a spouse or friend along on any trip. If there were any additional fees for the extra person, we would just ask the desk to charge that separate charge to a different card.

      3. Consonance*

        My guess is that it’s super specific to the industry. I’m generally with you, as I’ve tagged along on the conferences attended by my parents (as a child), and also brought my spouse along on mine. This seems to be normal at least in those industries – law and higher education – but I’m sure there are other fields where it’s odd. I would definitely not cast a broad “it’s unprofessional” net.

        1. Orange You Glad*

          I think it also depends on the type of business trip.
          A conference on your own in a popular city? It’s kind of expected people will bring spouses/families.
          A site visit to an office in rural Missouri where the company is renting 1 car for 4 managers to road trip 2 hours from the airport? That would be harder to sell as a trip where you bring a guest.

          In my 2nd scenario, when I’m on those types of trips no one would make a big deal about doing your own thing for dinner etc, but the default is to travel together as a group.

    5. Chairman of the Bored*

      If I saw a co-worker bringing a date back to their hotel room I definitely would not find it strange or unprofessional – they’re consenting adults and off the clock so they are welcome to pursue whatever recreational activities they wish as long as it doesn’t cause a practical problem.

      Most likely, I would think something along the lines of “Hey, good for them”.

    6. Lisa*

      “I think the expectation is that hotel rooms on work trips are for the worker in question and not meant to be shared with friends/romantic partners.”

      Not sure where youve gitten this idea. Anywhere I’ve worked, it’s considered totally fine to share the room with a significant other or friend, as long as their other trip expenses are paid separately and it doesn’t interfere with the business purpose of the trip.

    7. Effery*

      Why do you think that’s the expectation? I’ve never gotten that impression anywhere I’ve worked! Do you work in a really conservative field?

      1. Sales SVP*

        Actually, I share this impression, but perhaps more because in my field the expectation is that you dine/socialize with colleagues during a business trip, and also stay reasonably caught up on email, and also are well rested enough to do your job without any obvious fatigue. Is that reasonable? It always feels more exhausting than reasonable, but so be it.

        But I do think a junior employee in particular might get the side eye in this situation because it’s not really possible to do all those and also entertain. That being said, it’s also likely your colleagues will never know so long as you don’t skip out on work social events and you’re not unlucky in the lobby…

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I don’t know that I agree. People have huge commitments they juggle every day and still do a great job at the office. If Joan can manage to excel on 4-6 hours of sleep a night, while taking care of a parent or child, maintaining a household, having a social life, etc., it seems reasonable that they’d also be able to do so on a business trip. Unless they’re kama sutraing or whatever, I can’t imagine why the sex and socializing would last all night.

          1. Sales SVP*

            I agree (and certainly my life is Joan’s, but with parent and child…!), but I don’t the question is whether it’s possible or if some people can do it with aplomb, I think the key question here is whether someone who is probably pretty new to the workforce might face some questions about their judgment on this one, regardless of whether it is fair or not. I do think the answer is that it is quite possible, and also OP should feel to choose what seems best for themselves, just taking this into account.

            And actually, now that I think about it, while I have shared my home responsibilities with my team (because I want them to know it’s ok to be a human), I expressly don’t talk much about the full scope (or the exhaustion, or the endless stupid calls to my mother’s health insurance company…) with my peers/boss – this is not a supportive environment for that, unfortunately. OP’s question is sort of in the same spirit for me – how much of your personal life do you want colleagues to know about and will it affect your career? Possibly, unfortuantely.

        2. BellyButton*

          My BF has traveled with me, and I have never missed an expected dinner or socializing. He goes and does his thing, and I do my work obligations. We usually still get breakfast together and can see each other after the business-y stuff is over. I have worked in healthcare, financial institute, and an Asian owned tech company and it has never been viewed as weird for someone’s spouse or SO to go with them on a trip.

          1. allathian*

            Oh yes, never mind 43 or 53!

            It also depends on the expectations of the business trip, in that how much free time can the LW realistically expect?

        3. Orange You Glad*

          I agree with it too and my field is not based on networking on business trips. The default is the company is paying for an employee’s accommodations so the company can benefit from the employee being well rested and available at that location. What else they do with that room is up to them, but I don’t think any company treats employee travel as getting them a hotel for a +1. Most companies don’t have a problem with it, but it is not the expectation of the company.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      OP has definitely cleared it up for me why people are so keen to do this in the vicinity of their colleagues, rather than at home. Sometimes you’re in the area of a long distance person! I also wouldn’t think twice if a colleague said they were catching up with a rarely-seen friend in the area. Or you know, they could just walk themselves in to visit you without it being a showcasing or requiring explanation at all. with I also really appreciate Alison’s last paragraph about the audible consideration. There were people in the comments of that last letter saying it would be no big deal to hear colleagues slapping the wall all night; I honestly thought I was going crazy when that scenario was presented glibly.

    9. Dinwar*

      “Odds are no one will notice, but if they do they will be very likely to find it very strange and unprofessional.”


      I mean, if you’re loud or obnoxious or drunk, okay. But how is “I’m a human and have relationships other than work” unprofessional?

      Further (not that I personally think it matters), this isn’t a one-night stand. This is an established relationship–making it no different (as far as work is concerned) than meeting up with my parents or cousins or a coworker from another office and having them crash on the couch in the hotel room. For that matter, I’ve shared a hotel room with my wife on work events before; would that be considered unprofessional?

      I’d guess the reason why you consider it unprofessional is, ultimately, sex. But frankly my employer shouldn’t have any say in my intimate relationships one way or another. The ONLY thing they need to be concerned with is the cost and my capacity to do the job the next day; after that, it’s none of their business.

      1. Maglev to Crazytown*

        I have traveled with coworkers multiple times that told us, “Hey, sorry guys, I won’t be able to do anything with the group tonight… I have a college friend/old friend who lives in this city, and I planned on meeting up with them and catching up with them tonight!” This has been when there was no formal evening event or dinner event planned, and no one ever batted an eye about it. If I saw them heading back to the same room together, I wouldn’t think anything of it really, and not say a word about it to anyone.

    10. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – while the OP has a ongoing sort of relationship with the friend, from the perspective of coworkers, it is going to look like they have picked up a random person to have sex with, regardless of whether they introduce them as a friend or not.

      Should anyone have an issue with it? No. But I would consider whether the OP is comfortable running into coworkers and having to introduce someone late at night / first thing in the morning. I would also consider whether anyone senior at the company might consider this a lapse in judgment – unfair, if they do, but it could happen. I’d be prepared to introduce the other person as your girlfriend / significant other vs. FWB, let’s put it that way.

      1. Karl Havoc*

        “while the OP has a ongoing sort of relationship with the friend, from the perspective of coworkers, it is going to look like they have picked up a random person to have sex with, regardless of whether they introduce them as a friend or not”

        Why in the world would you assume that? OP said their colleagues know they have a close friend in the city. Seems much more likely that anyone seeing the pair together would think “oh, that must be OP’s friend they mentioned” before “oh, I see OP picked up a random person to have sex with”

        1. Selina Luna*

          I wouldn’t assume that even if OP hadn’t said anything about a friend in the city. I’m thoroughly self-absorbed when I’m at hotels or whatever, but if I noticed anything, I would completely shrug my shoulders and ignore it. I would probably forget within minutes.
          And if I was 100% sure that someone had “picked up a random person to have sex with,” that would continue to be none of my business. I don’t understand why people see casual sex so negatively, but if they see this as a lapse in judgment or treat someone differently because of this, they are in the wrong.

      2. Dahlia*

        Legitimately, do you assume that every time someone hangs out with a friend they’re having sex? Like I’m seriously puzzled here. I’m asexual and I would never assume that.

      3. Ragazza*

        I would never assume that. For all I know they’re just having a drink in the room or watching a movie. Not my business.

    11. Harper*

      I disagree. I’ve had a lot of jobs that require travel (including my current one), and not a single employer would have cared if I had brought a spouse or partner along on the trip, as long as I paid for their portion of meals and other expenses out of pocket. In fact, it’s pretty common for people to do this when work takes them to an interesting location.

    12. Sandi*

      I think this expectation is specific to you, because in my field we often get together as a group in each others’ hotel rooms for a drink and chat, and bringing along a friend to that group or someone having a friend in their room would be very normal.

    13. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “This is even more true if it is a casual relationship, and if the LW is young”

      Why? Older people have casual sex (look up STD rates among the elderly, it’s quite enlightening). No one is standing at the door asking OP to define his relationship with this person. Assuming they’re not being obnoxiously loud, no one knows if they’re having a drink or watching TV or doing something more amorous. If these are standards you want to define for a business trip, that’s your business, but this caveat has a lot of bias in it that you might want to examine.

    14. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’m with you. My co-workers don’t need to see me bringing a FWB in to share my hotel room during a work trip. I’m not particularly private about my personal life at the office, but I really, really don’t need that part of my personal life to be something my co-workers know about!

      It would be different if it was a spouse the LW would be bringing along, especially if the company and/or the event were cool with people bringing spouses. But a FWB is not a spouse, and realistically in a lot of companies and industries it really will not be professional to do what the LW wants to do.

    15. Interestingly Fat*

      While I am not doubting any of the scenarios being presented here, I keep having the same thought – How small are these hotels that everyone keeps running into their co-workers so often?

      Since everyone is offering their opinion/experience, I will offer mine. I don’t know what rooms my co-workers are in unless we specifically exchange that information.

      Some people are just more puritanical about the existence of sex outside of marriage. It’s just not respectable or appropriate.

      I also feel that the perspective of not always caring about other peoples’ opinion seems to be getting shut down.

      1. Paulina*

        It can be an effect of booking a block of hotel rooms. Sometimes these end up getting allocated here and there around the hotel, but sometimes they’re all together, especially if the people arrive together.

    16. Jade*

      I agree. I would not do it. Especially on your first business trip when you want to appear professional.

    17. Lucia Pacciola*

      I feel like anyone who makes a point of explaining that it’s an FWB, rather than just saying “friend” and leaving it at that, is probably best advised to keep their FWB far away from work travel and events until they’ve had a chance to internalize a few more workplace norms.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Seriously. I feel like I’ve taken a bus to bananaland reading these comments. LW is pretty clear that they would identify this person *only* as a friend if their coworkers ask — not as a FWB. I do not get the sense that this LW is lacking in common sense at all. Plenty of 23-year-olds would have just brought the friend back without writing in to ask for advice!

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            If FWB isn’t going to be a factor in anyone’s perception then why bring it up at all, is my question. Unless it’s supposed to affect the outcome, it’s gratuitous oversharing, which is a red flag to me.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              Because giving an advice columnist the full context in an anonymous forum is not the same thing as giving your coworkers the full context in the hotel lobby.

  3. SexxxyTimes*

    I have done it, many times. I also avoid telling coworkers what my room number is and always meet up with them in the lobby if we are traveling to a site together. I ask the front desk to hold a key for my friend and have them go to my room, and do not have to escort them up. No one would care, I am sure, but I don’t want people to talk about me with others or to ask me questions about my sex life.

    Have fun!

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      That might depend on hotel policy. Like I think the last time I stayed at a hotel we were required to list the adults that would be in the room in order to get key cards. If the company is paying for the room it could come back that the OP requested an extra key card.

      1. SexxxyTimes*

        Hmmm, I travel constantly for work and have never had anything like that happen. We do have company policy that if there are extra fees for additional people staying then the employee handles it. But it has literally never happened to me!

      2. SexxxyTimes**

        And I always get two keys. I keep on in my purse at all times in case I accidently forget the key in the room. I have never been charged for more than 1 keycard.

        1. michelenyc*

          I travel to South Korea a lot for work and all of the hotels I have stayed in give you 2 card keys. One you have to use to be able to use the lights in your room. They will charge you if you lose 1 of the key cards and need to request a new one. When you leave you have to turn in all of the cards or you will be charged.

        2. Paulina*

          I keep getting given two key cards by default. I confirm that it’s just me in the room and answer “No” to if I need any additional key cards, and then they give me two key cards anyway.

      3. Sparkles McFadden*

        Some hotels do ask to know who is in the room. I asked one place why this was (because they wanted very specific information and not just the number of people in the room), and they gave me two reasons:

        1. They want to know how many people they should be looking for in case of a fire or some other emergency.

        2. They want to know if there’s another person they can go after to pay if there’s an issue with your credit card, or the room gets trashed etc. (I’m guessing this is the main reason.)

        1. 1-800-BrownCow*

          1. But… People are in and out of hotel rooms all hours of the day and night, they have no idea the count of people who are in the hotel. Also, for the particular hotel chain I stay at, I usually check in online hours before I arrive and I get a digital key card for them and I never stop at the front desk. I could arrive at 3pm or 3am, they don’t know. If there was a fire, fire personnel aren’t looking for a body count. Say there’s 50 people staying at that hotel and they have 50 people outside, they aren’t just going to stop looking and “assume” there’s no one else inside. There’s no reason for a fire or emergency to need to know how many people are staying there.

          2. This makes no sense either. If you tell the front desk that “John Smith” is also staying in your room, it’s not like they get “John Smith” credit card number so if there’s an issue with yours, then can charge “John Smith”. And good luck tracking down the John Smith who stayed with you. Then you get people like my brother-in-law who doesn’t like to give a real name for things if it’s not necessary. If he had a guess staying in his room with him and had to register them, he’d probably give Taylor Swift or Arianna Grande as the name of his guest. Yes, let the hotel charge one of them if the room gets trashed.

          1. 1-800-BrownCow*

            Just to add, the person at the hotel who told you that probably made up reasons to deter people from sneaking someone in and most people probably don’t think it through. But yes, there’s so many flaws and work-arounds in their reasoning.

          2. Your Former Password Resetter*

            I think 2 can still work to an extent. It’s obviously not foolproof if people plan to get away with something, but many people will just give their real name in these situations.

            If nothing else, it can have a deterrent effect on people if they know the hotel is paying at least some attention.

          3. Sparkles McFadden*

            I assumed #1 was something that sounded nice so you wouldn’t push back too hard. For #2, they asked for very specific information and ID. This was a rather weird and snooty place, an anomaly for sure, but it was this hotel’s policy.

            I also had all of this happen for events involving security clearance (where that all makes much more sense), but that’s not relevant for this LW’s situation

            1. amoeba*

              That’s a very normal thing in Europe – you have to give at least the name of all people staying in the room, and pay extra if there’s two instead of one! You can generally just walk up to reception and tell them and pay the extra 20 € or whatever. Just don’t bring people back with you without letting the hotel know, that would be against the rules anywhere I’ve staid.

      4. Hokey Puck*

        I always ask for a second key card. Its just a safety thing as a woman…that people overhear that there are two people, instead of just one, in a room.

        Also, no one gets access to your room besides who you want to be in there – does not matter if the company made the reservations. You sign in when you get there with your own ID even if its on company cc.

      5. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I’m sure it’s hotel dependent. Every hotel I’ve stayed at in the last 2 years has asked me how many keys I want at check-in — even when I’ve booked the room for 1 guest and shown up at check-in alone. And the time my BFF and I went on a trip together and she was standing there when I checked in (room was booked for 2 guests) they didn’t ask for her name. YMMV.

      6. amoeba*

        Yup, here in Europe that would pretty certainly not be allowed by the hotel – they charge more if there’s two people in the room. It’s pretty clear from all house rules I’ve ever seen that you’re not allowed to bring non-guests to the room, and definitely not overnight.
        However, I have (on non-work trips) absolutely gone up to reception, communicated that an extra person would stay over for nights x, and paid the (smallish) difference. No problem, usually, so that’s probably what I’d do.

        On the other hand, bringing spouses/partners/whatever to business trips is absolutely not a thing in my world! I’d feel weird to bring my longterm partner, so I assume I’d feel the same about a FWB, haha.

        For me meeting up/staying at their place seems the much better option, also for them – it’s a more comfortable setting, you don’t have to have awkward conversations with colleagues while you’d rather be doing, er, other things, and you even save the company some money! So, yeah, I’d probably go with “oh, I actually don’t need a hotel, I have old friends in the area I’ll be staying with!”. Or, if that won’t fly at your company (for us it would be totally fine), just get the hotel and don’t use it.

        But I do agree that it’s also probably completely fine to bring them to the hotel, or rather just as fine as bringing your partner would be. Just make sure to clear it with the hotel if necessary and not to miss any work socialising, as Alison said. Well, any important work socialising, don’t miss your date because your colleagues decided to go out for a burger together, obviously!

    2. Anonforthis*

      I have done it once to great success with a Tinder date. Felt quite like the accomplished business woman taking a random French electrician up to my room. Though I embarrassed myself by asking at the front desk beforehand if it is allowed. She pretended not to understand me until I said sth like YES CAN I TAKE A STRANGER TO MY ROOM PLEASE.
      My colleague was very appreciative the next day; she’d spent the night in her bed eating cheese and drinking wine, so was also very well rested.

      1. SexxxyTimes*

        Good for you! You may need to give the details in Friday’s Open Thread. LOL

        I am very sex positive and traveled a lot in my early career — so much so that having an actual relationship was nearly impossible. Meeting people in whatever country/city I happened to be in was the only “relationships” I had for close to 10 yrs.

    3. MAnon*

      Yeah, I’ve been on the other side of it (long distance partner of a polyamorous person who traveled for work in my town) and it was never a problem. We didn’t act handsy/mushy in public, if we ran into their coworkers, it was a casual introduction without any details about who I was (“this is my friend”) and without extended conversation, and we went to bed at a reasonable hour so we were both fine for work stuff in the morning. We weren’t following hotel policies about disclosing that I was there, I suppose, but if you don’t draw attention to yourself obnoxiously, it really isn’t a big deal.

    4. PotsPansTeapots*

      Act like an adult (no drunken make outs in the lobby, make all your implicit and explicit work meeting, don’t sleep through your alarm) and I guarantee no one reasonable will care.

      As is the case with many other issues, the folks who care about other people’s sex lives are loud, but they’re not the majority by any stretch of the imagination. Have fun!

    5. Beth*

      I used to be the friend with benefits, for one friend who travelled a lot. Never had any problems that I knew of, from hotel staff or anyone else.

  4. Venus*

    I’ve often met up with platonic friends in their hotel room, or them in mine, and I used to meet up with a friends-with-benefits. Agreed with Alison that no one cares provided you’re discreet. The comment about being well rested applies in any circumstance, for example I had a work trip last year when one coworker stayed up really late drinking in the hotel lobby and as a result was always late the next day, and that was very unpopular. Many of us stayed up quite late to chat and share stories, but I learned early on that one’s reputation is quickly hurt by sleeping in.

  5. I should really pick a name*

    I’d just go to her place for the sake of simplicity. Avoids any risk of nosy coworkers.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I wonder if OP could use that as an excuse to maybe not even have the room, if it would work out for all parties. I know at my work if you dont want to stay in a hotel because you have friends/family in the city you can request no hotel.

      1. C*

        Too much hassle to not ask for a room (also the president isn’t great).

        I used to travel to the city my then-girlfriend lived in and would just check into the hotel, make sure the key worked and room was fine then go to her place. Definitely recognize there is “waste” but tbh that’s no one’s business if it doesn’t affect the purpose of travel.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I was very confused until I realized I think you meant “precedent” and not “president”.

          Also, if they’re traveling for a conference, they’re probably staying in the hotel where the conference is located, so staying there versus somewhere else in the city is much more convenient.

        2. Nina*

          My dad used to travel for work a lot and we have family all over the world, so pretty often he would square it with his boss that he would stay with family in [relevant city], and the company would reimburse him for dinner with aforementioned family in a reasonably nice restaurant, which always worked out cheaper than the hotel, so Dad got to stay with people he liked, the company got to save money, and the local relatives got a nice restaurant dinner.

        3. amoeba*

          Eh, most of the time, we pay for our own rooms and get reimbursed, so the hassle would be nonexistent. But yeah, sure, if it’s a lot of effort, I’d also just get the room and not use it. Depends on your workplace, boss, etc.! Mine would be happy about the money saved, we’re pretty tight right now and it might mean being able to afford somebody else’s travel at some other point.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      The friend’s living conditions may preclude this or make it less convenient – anything from being far from the site to having roommates or another partner (in a consensual open relationship, of course) could mean the hotel room is a better meeting point. (Not saying it’s a definite no, just that the LW has quite likely already considered and rejected the option).

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, I’d just do whatever I prefer because both options would probably be fine, but meeting at their home seems like the easier (and nicer) version to me, actually!

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      I don’t know, I think that might invite more “LW didn’t even come back to the hotel last night! (waggly eyebrows)” gossip than if LW meets up with FWB during the evening, or she comes up to LW’s room once everyone else is settled. That provides plausible deniability of “Oh, we got to reminiscing and she didn’t want to drive home tipsy so she just crashed on the couch.”

      With it being a work trip, optics are going to matter and some nosy parker in the group WILL be watching and judging.

      1. amoeba*

        “Oh, actually, I will be staying with old friends in city x, so won’t join you at the hotel!”

        Done, nothing weird about it. Definitely less rumour-inducing than getting a hotel room and then not coming “home” at night.

      2. borealis*

        It makes me a bit sad to see how many people have experiences of coworkers being nosy and judgmental about other people’s personal life. I guess I have been lucky.

    4. 1-800-BrownCow*

      That’s ‘nosy coworkers’ problem, not mine. I don’t care what they’d think or say about me, if I wanted to bring a “friend” to my room, I’d do it.

  6. Anon4This*

    The other reason I think that this is different than the previous letter is that this is someone you already know, and while sex may be part of you seeing her presumably there is also a platonic piece to your relationship (since you call her a friend with benefits and not a booty call). Regardless of whether the guy in the other letter was hiring sex workers, hooking up on Tinder, or met them in a bar, I think bringing someone you don’t know back to your hotel room for anonymous sex on a work trip* is just bad judgement.

    *I have no beef with anonymous sex outside of work trips – you do you.

    1. Czhorat*

      That’s a tricky one. To an extent I absolutely see the potential harm there, but it’s a question of how much risk you’re willing to take. The risk of a random hookup causing some kind of crazy scene isn’t all *that* high (I assume – I’ve been married over two decades so not really up on modern hook-up culture). They’re likely looking for the same thing you are.

      Is there a chance? Yes. Would that potentially impact your work? Also yes. Can you use your judgement on who you’re inviting and try to mitigate the risk? I assume.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Didn’t we have a letter writer one time who got their work computer or something stolen by the stranger he invited back to the room? I’m struggling to remember enough details.

        1. Czhorat*

          Yes. “How to tell your boss that a sex worker stole your laptop”.

          The answer was that this is a suboptimal situation in which to find yourself.

          1. BellyButton*

            ” suboptimal situation ” This made me giggle- it such a very matter of fact statement for such a horrible predicament it makes me laugh

      2. Anon4This*

        For me it’s less the potential harm (though, if your work involves anything confidential I think you shouldn’t have strangers in your room) but more that it seems like you’re focused on sex and not being there for work. To me it would be the same as using your work trip to Amsterdam as a chance to smoke a lot of pot or something.

        Granted, I also think getting super drunk on a work trip – as described in that letter – is a bad look too.

        1. Czhorat*

          I can see that argument, and am one hundred percent with you on getting drunk. I think it’s smart to minimize or avoid alcohol on business trips, but that’s a different discussion.

          I can also see that culturally some things are considered “OK” in off hours, some less so.

          Treat yoruself to a nice meal? Fine.

          Go to a show if you’re in a town known for them (NYC, Vegas, etc?) Also probably fine.

          Bring someone to your hotel room for some horizontal dancing? To some that feels different.

        2. Dinwar*

          See, I view it the opposite way. In my line of work “Come to my jobsite, you can stay an extra day and see some really cool stuff” is a common way to entice people to work on your site. I’m going to get my work out of you, don’t get me wrong–but it’s expected that an adult traveling somewhere is going to make the most of it, and what they do after hours is (barring pre-planned get-togethers) entirely on them.

      3. Hannah*

        Respectfully, I think you underestimate how badly random hookups can go. It’s less of someone setting out to intentionally cause a scene and more that you do not know anything about this person and the number of things that could possibly go wrong is very high.

    2. Janeric*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t blink if someone had a local friend stay in their room after getting a glass of wine due to weather/car issues/health issues/ too many glasses of wine and honestly might officially assume that something like this is the case if I saw the friend at the continental breakfast the next day.

    3. Emily Byrd Starr*

      Another difference is that in this letter, we know that no one is being exploited or trafficked.

  7. B*

    And it should be very obvious but don’t bring them back to your room if you’re sharing the room or suite with a coworker!

    I had a coworker let me and my baby stay in her suite during a conference (I got a last minute ticket and getting my own room would have meant being further away and having to take a taxi with an infant every day) and on the last night she went out to meet a friend and when I got up in the middle of the night to pee and had to go through the bedroom of the suite it was clear she had an overnight visitor. Having a stranger enter the room where I was SLEEPING with my BABY without my knowledge made me pretty irritated! (I was on a sleeper sofa so they had to go through the living room where I slept to get to the bedroom)

    1. Czhorat*

      And you should DEFINITELY NOT bring a sex partner to the room if you’re the LW from earlier in the week who has to share a bed with their co-worker.

      That would be even more awkward.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Unless the sex partner is also staying at the hotel and you can do a room swap. Just check if *they* had a roommate first!

        (…but no, seriously, don’t do this. LOL)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I feel like the script for the next Bachelor Party lies somewhere within all theses scenarios.

  8. Michelle Smith*

    Last work trip I went on, my coworker and boss went out drinking together at 1 am while I was back in the room working (I had a presentation I was finalizing) and blissfully unaware that they were partying. I only heard about it the next day. I would have preferred not to hear about it at all. Just keep it to yourself, don’t make out with your friend in the hotel lobby or bar, and mind your own business. Any reasonable coworkers will similarly mind theirs.

    FWIW, my boss and coworker were perfectly well rested the next day or at least managed to pretend that they were. No harm, no foul at the end of the day – I was just a little put off at first.

    1. Skoobles*

      Am I missing an implication here, or are you saying that you would have preferred not to hear that on a work trip, your coworker and boss were out drinking late? Because… that’s a pretty standard part of work trips and not remotely scandalous. Preferring not to know about it would seem exceptionally standoffish.

      1. Dahlia*

        Well, there’s “my coworkers got a glass of wine after dinner” and then there’s “Bob and Steve were doing bodyshots off each other in the bar down the street” and one of those you probably wanna hear less about at work.

        1. amoeba*

          Hah. Maybe unpopular opinion, but I would *definitely* want to know about it if my coworkers did that – it would be hilarious!

          (It would be very out of character for my coworkers though, if it was a regular occurance, I’m sure it’d get old quickly!)

  9. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

    Can I bring a friend-with-benefits back to my hotel on a work trip, even though I have to share a bed with my co-worker?

  10. Garblesnark*

    Just make sure your employer isn’t already expecting you to share the bed with a randomly assigned coworker based on your assumed gender.

  11. JSPA*

    The hotel may (and often will) have rules about whether people who are not checked in can spend the night.

    And of course, work can’t pay for them to stay.

    I’d go to their place and be back early, fresh, and without traces of the night’s activities, or “meet” for a couple-three hours then go your separate ways.

    1. Rick Tq*

      I’ve dealt with this indirectly and been told the room charge is based on the room, not the number of occupants and having two people in a room was the same charge as one.

      1. JSPA*

        Depends how it is bought; some hotels (and discounters) price by the room, others upcharge per person. Not safe to assume, if you don’t know.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I’ve run into this on Airbnbs (requiring all guests to be name in advance), but haven’t seen that in any hotel policies

      1. amoeba*

        Very, very common in my part of Europe (don’t think I’ve ever been in a place that didn’t care!)

        You can usually easily add a second person and pay the difference separately, just go to reception and tell them.

        1. Media Monkey*

          in some european countries (Italy rings a bell in particular) there is a tourist tax payable which the hotel or Air BNB have to collect and it’s generally per head per night. so there is a reason for them to have to know.

  12. Person from the Resume*

    I honestly think the biggest thing is to be well rested the next day.

    But I am now old and greatly value going to sleep around 10:30 on days when I have to set the alarm for the next morning, and also the idea of all travel (including work travel) mostly makes me tired. Conferences can seem especially tiring because often you’re sitting in a large room listening to a presentation which may not be the most engaging, but all the tiredness caused by travel and sleeping in a strange place can add up too.

  13. Janeric*

    This reminds me of when I was on a crew (in a hotel-room sharing industry), working offsite in a town that HAPPENED to be the town of residence of the crew leader’s boyfriend.

    There were an odd number of people on the crew and we had to strong-arm her into 1.) letting us get dinner on our own (“we’re all adults! We’ll go somewhere you hate!”) and 2.) take the hotel room with no roommate. Her original plan was that he’d eat at the same restaurant at an adjacent table and then she’d spend an hour or two with him before bedtime.

    She was a great crew leader, not least because she was scrupulously fair about dividing tasks and benefits.

    1. Silver Robin*

      Aww that is actually rather endearing; glad you could convince her to go spend time with her loved one

  14. Angstrom*

    If at the end of the workday a coworker said something like “An old friend is in town and is going to meet me at the hotel. We may go out or may just hang out in my room”, I’d think that sounded perfectly normal.
    If you can meet all of your work obligations and still enjoy time with your friend, great! Enjoy it with a clear conscience.

  15. Emmers*

    The things I have done in a conference room hotel…anyway just ask for a room away from ‘an overbearing co-worker’ or ‘your boss’ and don’t cavort in the hotel bar. Like a lot of things in life, being an all around reliable member of the team, punctual and helpful on the trip will go far to keep up the professional appearance.

    Additionally I’ve often preferred networking with others at the conference rather than dinner with co-workers I’ll see every day back home. That is very field and manager dependent but that’s the expectation I set at conferences with my higher ups. Probably not a first conference move but I do find that different than say a work trip that’s more team based.

    1. Czhorat*

      “” Like a lot of things in life, being an all around reliable member of the team, punctual and helpful on the trip will go far to keep up the professional appearance.””

      THIS. SO MUCH small-potatoes work drama comes down to this.

      If you aren’t a solid member of the team – if you’re surly or unpleasant about work tasks or unreliable in how well or how timely you do them – then perceived missteps like this are magnified. If you ARE a reliable, solid team member who people like to work with because you get your job done with minimal adjeta then nobody is going to care that you’re taking some personal adult fun time during a business trip (or that you hug a giant pillow, or that you play with a fidget spinner or any one of a number of trivial idiosyncracies).

  16. Lady Blerd*

    In my org, you could stay at her place and be entitled the “staying with friends and family” flat rate since we don’t ask any questions of where you’re staying. That’s all I got LOL

  17. BellyButton*

    It is interesting reading the comments and people saying be ready for the next day. At home we have all kinds of obligations- families, pets, volunteer work, friends, dinners, drinks, nights out and OMG sex with our partners/random hookup/ FwB – and we are still ready to work the next day. I guess I just don’t see an evening activity on a business trip as anything different than a normal work day activity.

    1. Alex*

      I think it is more to warn people that business trips are not a vacation and vacation-like behavior isn’t appropriate even though it is a “trip.” Also, there is sometimes a stronger expectation that you are available for “after-hours” work stuff.

      1. SexxxyTimes*

        I guess because I travel so much for work it is just a regular day for me and I don’t do anything I wouldn’t do normally.

      2. Hokey Puck*

        The amount of drinking that happens on a work trip is definitely outside the norm in my life…but thats the actual work part of it. Everyone in a conference shows up in pain the next day. I don’t understand how people can do it for 3 days straight.

        1. BellyButton*

          Ugh, no I am too old for that. I can’t do it. I also need my downtime after being physically with people- I am so not used it after WFH for the last 8 yrs.

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            The last time I was at an on-site situation (big corporate move over a weekend, everyone a certain distance away from the site got a room near the site) the project lead wanted to have a bit of a team drink-along. The crew got as far as the hotel bar, which had closed for the evening, before I peeled off and went back up to bed. The lead is a retired Marine (who once had a birthday cake served to him by the President at the time) and I guarantee that I could not have kept up with him. I’d figured that I’d have approximately one drink and then go to bed, but that was going to be phenomenally less likely to happen with an offsite bar expedition.

    2. Skoobles*

      It’s because business trips are where people screw up at being ready the most. A break in routine, pressure to go out drinking or stay out late on a work-week, and a sense that it’s not “really” work so you don’t need to take it seriously add up to a lot more people showing up late and visibly hung over or exhausted than they do at the day-to-day.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      In most cases the coworkers aren’t wandering around your home looking for coffee and stumbling across other people. (See “I ran into my new boss at my one night stand’s home.”)

    4. Angstrom*

      I think the concern is that a travel work day can be much longer than a normal work day. It’s not unusual to spend a full day at a customer/conference, then have dinner with colleagues, then have to deal with email or write up notes.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        This. Plus travel and simply sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can be additionally taxing. And the stakes of having an off day due to fatigue when you have limited time to do whatever it is you came to do are higher.

    5. Juicebox Hero*

      Presumably LW and FWB don’t see each other that often, so I see it more as cautioning LW not to try and make up for lost time, so to speak. Have fun but don’t overdo it, because you need to meet with people who will expect you to be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and punctual in the morning. And that includes higher-ups from LW’s company who will be wanting them to represent the company at its finest.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, that would be more the point for me than the trip itself – I probably wouldn’t be asleep by 11 in that situation, the temptation to stay up really late would definitely be strong!
        Suggest meeting early enough to wear yourself out before midnight, haha…

    6. bamcheeks*

      It can be SO much more exhausting than a normal working day in your own home, just because you’re out of routines and everything’s different, plus you’re often doing much more intensely focussed and non-routine work for longer hours. Once you add socialising or sightseeing on top of that, it can take you by surprise.

      1. BellyButton*

        I think because I travel regularly for work it isn’t that different to me. But yeah, I can see this if work trips aren’t something you do regularly.

        1. Dinwar*

          I’m in the same boat. I’ve literally traveled 50 weeks out of the year before, and if I didn’t occasionally risk being sleepy the next day I’d have no social life. In fact, being “home” is often more exhausting because THAT is what’s non-routine for me anymore, and the criteria are very different (treating kids like contractors is not great for your relationship with them).

          1. BellyButton*

            OMG I am so glad I am down to once a month or so now. But early in my career it was like that. By the end of that time I was to the point I had to put a post-it note on the bedside table to remind me what city and time zone I was in!

    7. Brain the Brian*

      The concern is that business travel — especially a conference — is a special event, and the company is paying the employee to be present and alert and putting on a good public-facing image for all of it. Not that any of that has even the slightest bit to do with whether an employee should be allowed to have a friend — with benefits or not — over to visit them in their hotel room. Of course they should. Oy.

  18. H.Regalis*

    I agree with Alison: As long as you’re discreet and it doesn’t affect your work, it’s fine.

    If your coworkers are normal and/or your room is relatively soundproof, I’d say bring your FWB to your room.

    If your coworkers tend to be all up in your personal business and/or the rooms are all in a row and have thin walls, stay at your FWB’s place.

    FWIW, I stayed over with a friend of mine in her hotel room the night before her wedding—I was one of the main bridal party helpers—, she didn’t ask or clear it with the hotel first, and no one said shit to us, or even noticed, tbh. I’ve stayed at a lot of 2-3.5 star places, and my impression is that the clerks generally could care less as long as you’re not doing anything blatantly dangerous or illegal. A lot of the desk aren’t even staffed after 9-10pm at night anyway. This isn’t a women’s dorm at a college in the 1950s: The overwhelming majority of people do not care.

  19. FanciestCat*

    I think part of the optics is that there is an assumption for some people that if you bring a spouse or long-term partner on a trip, they won’t be very distracting to you because the presumption is that you are together all the time anyway. Whereas, a date or a casual hookup on a work trip can be perceived as more distracting since it’s assumed to be new and exciting. For a lot of people, thinking that you might be distracted from the work trip a bit won’t bother them, because who cares? For someone who’s more of a stickler for “work trips are for work”, they’ll probably judge. So it’s really only a risk if you know you have a coworker like that, and they have the power to make life difficult for you.

    1. Czhorat*

      I could see the opposite argument:

      A spouse is more distracting because your lives are deeply intertwined, you enjoy eachother’s company, and have lots to share and do together.

      A casual hookup is less distracting because after you’ve had maybe some drinks and then your fun it’s pretty much over and that’s it.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I was also picturing a late night because it is someone the LW presumably doesn’t see very often since they do not live in the same town.

      Hooking up with a FWB while on a business trip is fine. It’s just best if the LW figures out a way for it to happen that the coworkers don’t even really realize that’s what happened other than possibly a very vague “catching up with an old friend.” I had a late night (for whatever reason) and now I’m visibly dragging during the work trip is not a way to appear professional.

    3. Jessica*

      Yes! This, IMO, is the biggest difference between bringing a spouse along and meeting with a friend/FWB. If you’re bringing someone along with you and then there’s some massive work emergency that takes all your attention — well, you can see that person later. Whereas if you’re visiting someone you may be more reluctant to cancel plans with them.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    The main reason I would think carefully before doing this is that it’s your first work trip with this job. You don’t know what the norms of business travel are within this group. (e.g. Do you eat together?) And they don’t have a long impression of your impeccable judgment and professionalism etc.

  21. Marta*

    I don’t think this is a big deal at all, but is it really different than the guy who had two women in the hotel, other than he wasn’t being discreet?

    1. Czhorat*

      I think Allison’s point is that “not being discreet” and “most likely cheating on his partner” were the two issyes with the other guy; having sex on a trip – even with a sex worker – is fine so long as you aren’t too loud/distracting with it and that they don’t steal your work laptop.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Discretion is good!

      The discomfort of TMI about your coworkers reflects that there are things people want you to be discreet about. Pretty much anything in which you take your pants off.

      Most acceptable human behavior in different contexts falls in a middle zone. So we can ramp up the scenarios of bringing back someone to your hotel room, and at one end most bystanders don’t care, and at the other end most bystanders wonder why you have such poor judgment. (See the last linked letter, in which a friend on a trip that would be no biggie at a normal level became A Thing as the person just kept escalating what they tried to get away with, and the charity had to pay $400 for the removal of Stains Of A Romantic Nature from the couch.)

    3. JSPA*

      The number is only relevant in terms of physical risk (presumed low with 2 women 1 man, but not zero).

      Knowing someone well enough to vouch for them being around your company’s documents and your computer, vs randos? I’d say yes, kinda.

      Not putting your coworkers in the awkward position of seeing your spouse, and not knowing if it’s an open relationship, or you’re cheating? Yes.

      Next (and to be clear, I’m not saying it’s wrong to hire sex workers, nor that every such worker is interchangeable) a paid stranger (or two) isn’t identical to a friend-with-benefits. Seeing an existing friend while on a work trip, because they live there, is less “oddly focused on self-gratification at a work-adjacent site” than ordering in a random twosome of pros, which you could equally do someplace that isn’t connected to a work event.

    4. Kevin Sours*

      Discretion is a lot of it, but also making your coworkers witnesses to infidelity also puts them in an awkward situation. Which, I suppose, circles back to discretion.

      1. Czhorat*


        Having casual sex is an ethically neutral act. Having casual sex behind your partner’s back if you’re in a monogamous relationship is not.

        Even if it doesn’t directly affect the company, you shouldn’t commit ethically questionable acts around your coworkers.

      2. Emily Byrd Starr*

        I hadn’t even thought of that, but since you mention it: If LW is married or in a committed relationship, she definitely should not bring her FWB to her hotel room.

  22. Mouse named Anon*

    Give your friend your room number and its likely that no one would ever know. They can just go up to room and thats that.

    1. allathian*

      Depends on where you are. I’m in Finland, and while you could bring up a guest to a hotel room, you’d have to meet them in the lobby, elevator access is for guests only and staircases are locked so that you can walk down without a key, but not up. And even the guest has to register at reception if they intend to spend the night because the hotel needs to know how many guests it has if there’s a fire.

      I suspect that the same rules apply to the rest of the EU, too.

      My suggestion for the LW is to spend time with the friend somewhere other than at the hotel.

  23. Dinwar*

    I think a lot of the “No don’t do it” mentality stems from the idea that a business trip is 100% about business so the person should be 100% business-oriented unless there’s a compelling excuse not to be.

    I also think there’s a (very reasonable and proper) push against this notion these days. Few people can be 100% On for even a few days, and people need to recharge. What that looks like is going to be different for everyone. Add to that the increased view that work isn’t a lifestyle–people are much more willing these days to push back against the idea of a boss telling them how to live if the boss isn’t paying them for that hour.

    There’s also strong bias in the USA at least against casual sex. If this were “Can I spend an evening at a local bowling alley?” or “Can I go to the local YMCA to work out, I have a nationwide membership?” I don’t think anyone would think twice, despite the fact that these activities have exactly the same potential to disrupt work activities.

    On the balance, I’d say that the new employee has an opportunity to establish boundaries here: If the boss isn’t paying, they get no say in what the employee does, and that down-time is important enough to prioritize. This will bother some people, sure, but I’d rather know who those people are early. Is there risk? Sure–but the risk of NOT setting boundaries is well-established and high cost. It’s like ergonomics: by the time the risks associated with refusing to set boundaries are painful, it’s gone too far for any easy fix.

    1. Angstrom*

      Boundaries: At a previous job, the default for after hours on trips was hanging out in the nearest bar, and I was never a bar person. I got in the habit of asking “Is there anything else planned for this evening? Is there anything we need to do to wrap up today, or prepare for tomorrow?” If yes, I’d stay and work. If no, I’d be off to do something on my own. Folks quickly accepted that as me being me, and it wasn’t a problem.

      1. Dinwar*

        I’ve done the same.

        I think the worry that people will judge you is more significant than the probability of someone actually caring enough to make a stink about it. Most people understand that you’ve been in a conference all day, and are fried, and just want some time away sometimes.

  24. Mzanony*

    I think it actually depends. If you’re in a very strait laced firm in a very strait laced discipline, it would be different. If you work with mostly older coworkers, and you are the youngest as well as the newest, it makes aI think it actually depends. If you’re in a very straight laced firm in a very straight laced discipline, it would be different. If you work with mostly older coworkers, and you are the youngest as well as the newest, it makes a difference. If you don’t know what to expect from the conference, so you’re not sure about how much time you’ll need to work or do evening activities it makes a difference. I don’t think there’s a blanket answer the way some people here too. I personally wouldn’t risk it until I got there — I’d let the friend know that I hope to see them but I need to get More information on the schedule first.

  25. Sassy*

    I worked for a very conservative religious organization. So, no FWB would have been acceptable. We did have the ability to bring family to conferences, but you had to pay for any difference in room cost, their own transportation and meals. We had one employee who wanted to drive everywhere so they didn’t have to pay for the family members transportation.
    Our big issue was the family member wanting to crash meals or would hang out near the meeting room to check if you were free to go. It became an issue when the “guest” spouse wanted help with childcare, etc. but the employee still had work to do. The other employees hated the intrusion.

  26. Nancy*

    How is anyone going to even know who is in your room and what you are doing in there? They already know you have a friend in the city and you will be seeing her at some point. Just don’t skip and work-related events to spend time with her.

    If I knew a coworker had a friend in the city, and I saw the coworker go into their room with someone, I would just assume it was that friend.

  27. Sneaky Squirrel*

    You can’t prevent nosy coworkers, but if it’s likely that no one would bat an eye at a spouse, fiancé, or otherwise known serious relationship invited to stay with you on your business trip then this isn’t really that much different. Simply act casual and if anyone asks, you are catching up with a friend. If your coworkers want to assume what it’s for, that’s on them. This is assuming you aren’t parading your friend through the hotel in lingerie or sloppy drunk or boasting about your anticipated evening activities.

  28. subaru outback driver*

    I wouldn’t do it. I think a lot of people are missing this is a conference not a “work trip.” If it was just you LW and none of your coworkers around, then sure go for it. But if there is the risk of running into a coworker or someone who knows you at the conference then yeah… I am a no on that. That you specifically put in your letter what kind of relationship this is and if it is okay, really calls into my mind your judgement. Don’t risk your reputation on something like this.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I do not understand what you see as the big difference between a conference and a work trip and how that impacts the way you’d answer this question?

    2. BellyButton*

      Attending a conference with colleagues tends to be a lot more anonymous than a work trip! Most large conferences have a huge book of presentation offerings, and any time I have been at one with coworkers we tend to divide and conquer so we are attending different sessions and getting as much information as possible from the event. We will occasionally all want to attend the same session, but it is rare. We also like doing our own networking and are not attached at the hip.

      If it is a work trip it is a lot more togetherness. We are usually all there because we are working on the same project, are in meetings together, team building, etc. The conference would be way easier to “hide” if a person thought it was necessary.

    3. Dinwar*

      If the LW didn’t tell you they were sleeping with the person, how would you know?

      I’ve got coworkers all over the Lower 48. Meeting up with coworkers for a drink and a discussion about something that I can’t share in a public venue is going to look a lot like friends with benefits. For that matter, I’ve got relatives in a bunch of random places–how are you going to differentiate between me meeting up with a second cousin vs me hooking up?

      For that matter, what if I was meeting with a guy? Would you automatically assume that since he’s male it’s obviously a friend? Gay people exist, after all.

      I don’t mean these to be “Gotcha!” questions. I’ve actually run into a few of these in the wild, so to speak. More to the point, the number of assumptions you’d have to make going from “I saw them go into a hotel room together” to “This young man’s judgment is questionable” is pretty significant. Unless the LW is flaunting his personal affairs (no pun intended), there’s simply not sufficient information to conclude that he’s doing anything questionable, even if you assume that casual sex is inherently problematic (which it’s not).

      1. BellyButton*

        I think so much of this attitude is because 1. in the US we are so weird and conservative about sex and 2. people have some weird notion that if you are traveling for work- 24 hrs a day you should be ON work behavior. 2 is the opposite for me. I need more down/alone time when I travel for work because I have been WFH for 8 yrs and all that people-ing is exhausting now.

  29. Happily Retired*

    Who else clicked on the “audible evidence” link before finishing Alison’s advice? XD

    Happy almost-weekend, y’all.

  30. LW*

    Thanks to everyone who’s commented; I’ve read them all. A few people have assumed this is a heterosexual relationship and it definitively is not. For better or for worse, I do think us both being women makes it less likely that people will assume we’re sleeping together if we run into any of my colleagues. I agree with most of the commenters that it will not be difficult for me to introduce her with “this is my friend from college” and have that be the end of the conversation.

    A couple people have said that me referring to her as a friend-with-benefits demonstrates poor judgment. Can anyone explain this to me? I don’t know how I would’ve asked this question without revealing that detail.

    People pointing out that it’s likely I don’t see this friend often are correct. We share a hometown, so we usually see each other at holidays, although staying at our parents’ houses make those strictly platonic get-togethers. Neither of us has a lot of vacation time, so we usually only make it to each other’s cities once or twice a year.

    Finally, thanks to everyone who cautioned me on being sure to get enough sleep and be ready for the next day! I’m in a field and an office with pretty firm norms favoring a hard 4:30 stop, so I’m hopeful that culture will translate to the conference and any trysts can happen earlier in the evening rather than later. I’ll tell my friend that I may need to decide day-of whether it will work for us to get together, and see what my obligations at the conference look like once it’s closer.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Evening socializing with colleagues/clients/prospective clients/other networking is a something of a staple of business trips so I would definitely not assume that the 4:30 hard stop applies. In my experience this isn’t something that’s usually made explicit so much as somebody will indicate dinner arrangements with a “voluntary but not really”.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      “Can anyone explain this to me”
      Some people have hang ups about casual sexual relationships and are looking for indirect ways of criticizing them. There is no way to ask the question without explaining the relationship and that’s as good a way as any.

      That said it’s not a term I’d recommend using in front of your coworkers. But that falls under “coworkers don’t need to know about your sex life”. (Anonymous voices on the internet are more appropriate, ironically).

    3. Leenie*

      Thanks for the follow up! I’m offering a story in support of discretion. At a small work offsite event/meeting at a hotel, one of our colleagues showed up at the hotel bar where we were all having a drink at the end of the day and introduced his hook up. It was really uncomfortable. Of course, this was a guy who would sit in meetings and swipe away on Tinder, so we were all already a little too familiar with his habits. It doesn’t sound like you’d do anything remotely like that, or that you have a reputation that proceeds you in skeeving people out, so you’re probably fine. I would caution you that there might be expectations for evening socializing, even in a company that doesn’t normally extend business into off hours. I wouldn’t skip that altogether, though you can likely leave a bit early. Hope things work out well for you, and that you have a great conference. Have fun!

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Though in this situation it’s an old friend. So it’s not it’s a situation where you are socializing with two people who don’t know each other and have no real interest in each other aside from the obvious.

        To the extent that their would be awkwardness is the awkwardness of introducing somebody you know to other people you know that have nothing in common besides you.

        1. Leenie*

          Eh, I agree it’s different. But I still think it would be really awkward to bring a friend into the middle of a work gathering without plus ones, particularly if there are romantic vibes. But really, it sounds like the LW wasn’t planning on doing anything like that anyway.

    4. Brain the Brian*

      Thanks for responding, LW. In my opinion and experience (gay man here), you are handling this perfectly. There’s absolutely no reason not to do this, as long as you’re discreet about how you refer to the friend to coworkers. Lots of commenters seem unable to distinguish between the information you have to anonymously share in a letter to an advice columnist for the question to make sense and the information you would reasonably disclose to your coworkers.

      Anyway, my point from the comment section of last week’s letter — asking straight people to please stop policing queer people’s sex lives in weird ways — stands. :)

    5. Delta Delta*

      I see absolutely no issue with seeing your friend and honestly, I hope you do. In the event you have to introduce her to your colleagues, or even mention her, you can say what is true: you have a friend from your hometown who lives in this city, and you’re going to take the opportunity to socialize with her. It’s an adequate explanation, it happens to be true, and your colleagues will probably tell you to go have a good time. What you do with your friend – whether it’s having dinner or going to a museum or having sex – is entirely up to you and requires no explanation.

      Since the trip is work-related, if there are multiple overnights, you probably shouldn’t have all your time be with your friend, but spending some time with your friend seems perfectly fine.

    6. tree frog*

      I definitely assumed this was not a straight relationship, but that’s just my personal bias as a raging homo. I think you’re probably right that your coworkers are likely to think you’re having a lovely platonic time with your friend, which is heteronormative but works in your favour. I think the people who are judging you for mentioning this is a FWB situation are just pearl clutching.

  31. zebra*

    I travel to conferences all the time. I think it’s fine as long as you are reasonably discreet! If you walk into the hotel at the exact same time both with suitcases and go to the checkin desk together, someone might notice and comment, but otherwise it should be fine. If you’re taking the elevator upstairs together and one of your colleagues jumps in, just let them get off first and go the other direction. Or plan to go up one after the other. It’s a conference so presumably people will just assume your friend is another attendee you’re being friendly with.

    The main thing is to be sure you understand the social expectations for your participation. Will there be organized group dinners? If no, then are you expected to go out to dinner with your colleagues or other business contacts? The only time I’ve seen guests being a problem is in situations where you are expected to socialize with coworkers at certain times but you are always ducking out to hang out with whoever you brought. If most of your coworkers eat meals together but you skip every single one and they find out later it’s because you had a girl in your room, there will definitely be some talk.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      I think that while there is a responsibility to be discreet and to avoid making your coworkers aware of your sex life, there is a reciprocal responsibility to not notice things that were not intended to be noticed. If you bump into coworkers with your friend then you explain “this is my friend” and if they don’t take it a face value you have a right to respond in a chilly fashion.

  32. PDB*

    My grandfather took a nap in his office every day after lunch. The office was very, very quiet but it was his company so…

  33. Definitely Anonymous*

    I’ve done this with great success. Told my work “Hey, my old friend X lives within a short flight of there, if she hops over at her own expense while I’m there is it OK if I add her to my room so she has somewhere to crash?” The hotel didn’t even charge for the extra name on the room. If anyone had seen us at dinner in the evening or at breakfast the following morning they’d have just thought we were two middle aged ladies catching up on our lives – they didn’t need to have a clue what we’d been enthusiastically doing to each other all night. She had naps during the day while I was at work, and I can get by and still function fine on very little sleep for a few days, so it was all good. I was very tired indeed when I got home but it was absolutely worth it.

  34. ijustworkhere*

    No one will know or care what you do in your room as long as it stays in your room. Just be sure you aren’t skipping out on activities that can be beneficial to you–some of those dinner gatherings and cocktail hours are where you make professional connections that can be of great benefit to you later. And…it’s important to check with someone in your organization to see what the company culture is around these after hours gatherings.

    And definitely do not skip out on any of the formal programming–the company has paid for you to attend those and they expect you to.

  35. MP*

    I did this a few times back in my younger years mostly without issue. Except… There was one time where the fire alarm went off at 3am and evacuation orders were given. It was a little awkward standing around the parking lot with my “friend”, my boss and grandboss, making small talk and waiting for the fire department to give us the ok to go back inside.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      I think this is “not noticing things that were not intended to be noticed, high degree of difficulty edition”

  36. Yellow sports car*

    If your colleagues are going to be at the same hotel I would strongly recommend against bringing someone to your room for sex while on a work trip. You can argue all you like whether your colleagues should care – but you stand a good chance of someone noticing, and potentially remarking on it. You stand a good chance of someone forming an opinion of you that is not professionally favourable.

    Why risk it? If the friendship is what is most important catch up for dinner/drinks. If you want to have sex stay elsewhere and return to your hotel at a not crazy hour.

    Your colleagues aren’t idiots – if you introduce your friend and say we’re just going up to your room for drinks to catch up and no we won’t be joining everyone for dinner they’ll make assumptions.

    This being your first work trip – I’d be conservative in my behaviour until I know how things go. 20 years later I still hear comments about colleagues’ behaviour on work trips (remember when …).

    Even if nobody cares – they may still notice – and that might not be how you want to be noticed.

  37. Big Z*

    Interestingly, my current employer actually has an option on our travel expense reporting system for “getting a per-diem reimbursement because you’re staying with a friend/relative instead of in a hotel on your work trip”. I’d never seen that before as an official policy.

    Given that, it might be in LW’s interest to see if their company offers such a thing somewhere buried in the fine print of the travel policy.

    I’ve also had the general experience in my own conference travel of “I never see co-workers randomly in the hotel hallways, only in common areas”, but that’s (obviously) a function of how big the conference actually is compared to the venue hotel.

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