ESA Hotel Laws: Ensuring Comfort for You and Your ESA

ESA Hotel Laws: Ensuring Comfort for You and Your ESA

Updated on April 11, 2024
Written by Brenda Mejia

fact checked by Andre Gregatti

Emotional support letters are essential for anyone who owns an emotional support animal. They legitimize your ESA and make it easy to have it with you in most places. Pet owners often face challenges when traveling, especially in hotels. Not all hotels welcome animals, even ones as crucial as ESAs. This makes it hard for people to find suitable places to stay.

Having an emotional support letter saves you from a lot of heartache. Here’s everything you need to know about emotional support letters for hotels. 

Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in All Hotels?

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No, not every hotel allows emotional support animals to stay with their owners. On the other hand, service animals are generally allowed in hotels. Legal protections mean emotional support animals do not have the same widespread acceptance. You’ll need to check with each hotel about their pet policies.

Hotels have different rules when it comes to pets and emotional support animals. Some may allow them but require extra fees or deposits. Others might restrict the size or number of emotional support animals allowed.

A few hotels are very welcoming and have special pet amenities. But asking before booking and then confirming is key. Always check the hotel’s ESA policy to avoid any surprises upon arrival.

Do I Need to Pay Extra Fees for My ESA?

While some hotels might not charge extra fees for an ESA, it’s not guaranteed. It’s possible that some hotels may apply extra costs for your ESA’s accommodation.

How to Avoid Pet Fees at Hotels

To avoid pet fees, you can contact the hotel in advance and inform them that you have documentation for your ESA. Providing them with a copy of this documentation either in advance or upon arrival could help waive any potential fees.

What Documentation Is Required to Prove My Pet Is an ESA?

The required documentation to prove your pet is an ESA is an official ESA letter. A licensed healthcare provider issues this letter and verifies the need for an emotional support animal.

ESA Letters Laws for Hotel Accommodations

Emotional support animals are key for people with mental health conditions. They offer comfort and calm. However, the rules for ESAs can be confusing. This is true for hotel stays.

An emotional support animal letter for hotels goes a long way. It helps get accommodations for some hotels. Understanding the importance of an ESA letter is critical. It is also key to see how it differs from service animal documentation.

Clarification on ESA Letters

An ESA letter is a document prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. It states the need for the ESA for an individual’s well-being.

Service animals are trained to do tasks for people with disabilities. Unlike them, ESAs provide comfort by just being there. This difference is important. By law, service dogs and animals are generally allowed in public spaces. But, ESAs do not have the same universal acceptance.

An ESA letter can help negotiate accommodations for hotel stays, but it does not guarantee acceptance. Legal protections for ESAs differ from those for service animals.

Legal Backdrop

The legal framework governing the accommodation of ESAs in hotels is more complex than service animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with service animals extensively. This act mandates their acceptance in most public spaces and accommodations. 

However, ESAs are not covered under the ADA in the same way, leaving their acceptance at hotels to the discretion of the property owners. This legal distinction makes the ESA letter crucial. It is important for individuals hoping to stay in hotels with their ESAs.

It serves as a formal declaration of the ESA’s significance for the owner’s mental health. However, it does not compel hotels to accommodate or accept these animals under the same statutes that apply to service animals.

Can Hotels Charge for Emotional Support Animals?

Hotels can set their policies on accommodating emotional support animals. They have legal freedom to do so. This includes the potential to charge extra fees. Service animals are protected under the ADA and cannot be charged extra fees. On the other hand, ESAs do not receive the same federal protection in hotels.

This discrepancy allows hotels to consider ESAs as pets in many cases, applying their pet policies and fees accordingly. Understanding that the laws governing service animals do not automatically apply to ESAs is crucial. This allows hotels to impose a pet policy and fees on guests staying with ESAs.

Inquiring About Fees in Advance

Before booking a hotel, talk to them to learn their policy on ESAs and fees. Asking detailed questions can help clarify whether your ESA will be welcomed and if there will be extra charges. 

It’s advisable to inquire about the size or breed restrictions, the number of ESAs or animals allowed in hotels, and the exact cost of any fees. This talk can prevent surprise costs upon arrival. It will also ensure the place meets your ESA’s needs.

Preparing for Potential Costs

When planning a trip with your ESA, anticipating additional costs is wise. Here are some tips to help you budget effectively:

  • Research and compare hotel policies: Look for hotels with favorable ESA policies to minimize extra fees.
  • Ask about special discounts: Some hotels offer discounts for guests with ESAs or waive the pet fee upon request.
  • Set aside a pet deposit budget: Be prepared for refundable or non-refundable pet deposits as part of your travel budget.
  • Consider alternative accommodations: Explore pet-friendly rentals or accommodations catering to guests with ESAs. They may have more lenient policies.

Understanding and preparing for the potential costs of traveling with an ESA can make your trip better. It can make it less stressful. Feel free to negotiate fees. And, talk openly with your chosen hotel about your ESA’s needs. This will help you find the best accommodation.

Your ESA is Exempt from Pet Fees for Housing

According to the FHA, Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs are exempt from any pet fees, deposits or pet rents.

Learn More about Pet Fees

Your Rights and Hotel Policies – What to Know Before Booking

Understanding both can significantly influence the ease of your travel and accommodation experience. ESAs provide much emotional support to their owners. But, the rules for their hotel stays can be complex and varied.

Legal Rights

Individuals with ESAs should know their rights under different laws, particularly regarding accommodations. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) primarily covers housing rights, allowing ESAs to reside in residential properties. This includes apartments and rented homes without facing pet restrictions or fees. However, it’s important to note that:

  • The FHA does not extend to hotels; these are considered public accommodations, not residential housing.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers broad protections for individuals with disabilities. However, its animal provisions are specifically designed for service animals, not ESAs.
  • Some state and local laws protect ESAs more. But, they vary widely and may not cover hotels.
  • If you must travel by air to the hotel, your ESA is protected under the Air Carrier Access Act. This law allows you to fly with your ESA in the cabin.

Hotel ESA Policies

Hotel policies regarding ESAs can differ significantly from one establishment to another. Here are key points to consider:

  • Pet fees and deposits: Hotels may charge extra for ESAs under their pet policies.
  • Breed or size restrictions: Some hotels limit the size or breed of animals they will accommodate.
  • Number of ESAs allowed: You might be limited on how many ESAs you can bring.
  • Documentation requirements: While not consistently enforced, some hotels may request to see your ESA letter.

The Process of Obtaining an ESA or a PSD Letter

Obtaining a letter for an ESA or a PSD is a process that requires a legitimate mental health evaluation. 

Individuals must consult a licensed mental health professional who assesses their need for an ESA as part of their treatment plan. The professional may issue an ESA letter if they determine the presence of a mental health condition that benefits from the companionship of an ESA. 

Some of the mental health issues that may warrant an ESA are anxiety, severe depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and chronic stress.

For a PSD, the process is similar in terms of the need for a mental health evaluation. However, there’s an additional requirement for proper training of the PSD. It must be able to perform specific tasks related to the individual’s condition. 

Get your Official ESA Letter Consultation from a licensed therapist.

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Common Documentation Requirements

An ESA letter typically contains several pieces of crucial information that hotels may verify:

  1. The mental health professional’s license type, number, and the state or jurisdiction where it was issued.
  2. Confirmation that the ESA is a necessary part of the individual’s treatment for a mental or emotional disorder.
  3. The letter’s date should be one year old at maximum.
  4. The signature of the licensed mental health professional.

Communicating with Hotels About Your ESA

Pre-Booking Communication

Before booking your stay, it’s advisable to:

  1. Reach out to the hotel directly to inquire about their ESA policy.
  2. Clearly state that you have an ESA and provide information about the animal (type, size, and breed).
  3. Ask if any fees or deposits are required to stay with an ESA.
  4. Inquire about any specific documentation the hotel may require, such as an ESA letter.

During Your Stay

To ensure a smooth experience staying with your ESA at a hotel, consider the following tips:

  1. Inform the hotel staff upon check-in that you have an ESA, even if you have already communicated this during the booking process.
  2. Be aware of and respect any hotel restrictions or guidelines regarding ESAs.
  3. Keep your ESA under control at all times and ensure it does not disturb other guests.
  4. Be prepared to show your ESA letter if hotel staff requests, as this can help verify your need for the animal during your stay.

Tips for a Hassle-Free Hotel Stay with Your ESA

Traveling with an ESA requires thoughtful preparation to ensure you and your animal companion have a comfortable and hassle-free hotel stay. Planning ahead and understanding hotel policies can minimize potential stress and enjoy your time.

Preparation and Packing

To make your stay with your ESA as smooth as possible, consider packing the following items:

  1. ESA Letter: Carry a copy of your ESA letter to verify your animal’s status if needed.
  2. Pet Supplies: Bring along your ESA’s food, water bowl, leash, and any medications.
  3. Comfort Items: Include your animal’s favorite toys or a blanket to help them feel secure in a new environment.
  4. Travel Kit: Prepare a kit with waste bags, grooming tools, and a first aid kit for your ESA.
  5. Hotel Policy Review: Familiarize yourself with the hotel’s ESA policy to ensure compliance during your stay.

Handling Issues

Encountering issues with hotel staff or policies regarding your ESA can take time and effort. Here’s how to address potential problems:

  1. Stay Calm and Informed: Politely explain your rights and the hotel’s policies regarding ESAs as you understand them.
  2. Documentation Ready: Have your ESA letter and any other required documents readily available to show to hotel staff.
  3. Problem-Solving Attitude: Work with the hotel staff to find a solution that respects your needs and the hotel’s policies.

Finding a hotel that welcomes ESAs with open arms can greatly enhance your travel experience.

Finding Pet-Friendly Hotels that Welcome ESAs

Finding pet-friendly hotels that welcome Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) can make travel experiences more enjoyable. With the increasing awareness of the importance of ESAs, many hotels have begun to adopt more inclusive policies. 

An ESA-friendly hotel may not even require you to pay additional pet fees.

Here are some strategies and considerations to help you find the right accommodations for you and your ESA.

Research Strategies

To locate pet-friendly hotels that accommodate ESAs, consider the following strategies:

  • Use Dedicated Websites: BringFido and specialize in listing pet-friendly accommodations.
  • Social Media and Forums: Search for recommendations and reviews from other ESA owners on platforms like Reddit or Facebook groups.
  • Direct Contact: Call hotels directly to inquire about their ESA policies and any accommodations they offer.

Considerations When Booking

When selecting a pet-friendly hotel for your ESA, keep these factors in mind:

  • Location: Choose a hotel in a convenient location with nearby areas for walking your ESA.
  • Additional Fees: Be aware of any extra charges or deposits for ESAs and budget accordingly.
  • Amenities: Look for hotels offering pet amenities like welcome treats, pet beds, or special 


Obtaining an ESA letter is crucial for anyone planning to travel with their emotional support animal. It helps smooth the way for hotel accommodations and validates the importance of your ESA to your well-being. 

Remember to research and prepare adequately before your trip, communicate clearly with your chosen accommodations, and pack everything your ESA will need for a comfortable stay. 

If you plan to travel with your ESA, obtaining an ESA letter is your first step towards a seamless travel experience. Traveling with your ESA can be rewarding and stress-free with the right preparation and mindset.

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