Ah, the age-old debate of whether it’s worth getting a hotel for a cosplay convention.

I actually got the inspiration to write this post after one of my mutuals on Instagram was debating whether she wanted to get a hotel for an upcoming large Anime convention. I had a casual conversation with her about the benefits of getting one, and how to avoid the pitfalls of booking one. She was so convinced with what I said, that she immediately booked the hotel! What do you know! And hey, you can trust Senpai for convention hotel advice; I’ve traveled to different parts of the world and stayed in many con hotels. So I definitely have experience.

Anyways, back to the topic.

On one hand, wouldn’t it be nice to be right beside the convention for the entire weekend? That sounds so magical! (and it actually is)

But on the other hand, you look at the price tag of the hotel and it immediately makes you shutter. Why spend so much money, when you can just take the bus to the convention?

Most of the time, I always recommend getting a hotel to give yourself a better experience for the convention weekend. However, there may be situations where it’s not worth getting a hotel. Which one applies to you? Let’s find out!

In this post, I’ll give you 5 reasons why you should get a hotel for yourself (and your friends) during a cosplay convention, and give you 5 reasons when I think you shouldn’t bother.

Note when I’m talking about convention hotels, I’m talking about the ones that are right next to the convention or inside it. Or they’re officially part of the convention hotel list.

Let’s get started!

When or why you SHOULD get a convention hotel

1. When you want the BEST convention experience

Fire Emblem group photo - convention pet peeves
It doesn’t get any more fun when you’re staying in the convention area!

Put simply, there’s no way to fully enjoy a convention weekend without staying at a hotel at or nearby the con. For you guys who are reading this and have done this already, you know what I mean. But for those who haven’t, it’s kind of hard to explain. But it’s a completely different feeling when you’re staying at the con hotel for a weekend. You’ll simply get way more enjoyment out of the con if you’re there.

When you’re just commuting or taking the bus to the convention and then leaving at the end of the day, you’re just attending the event. But when you’re planting down at a hotel in the vicinity for the weekend, it feels like you’re part of the festival.

2. During a big cosplay convention

Big conventions are worth staying at, in my opinion.

I highly recommend getting a hotel for the big conventions. Why? Because big conventions are much easier to get exhausted and tired from. Not only is there more ground to cover at a big convention. But they are sooo many people at a con, it also gets mentally exhausting.

I remember the days of attending big conventions without a hotel to stay at. Trying to find a bench to sit down and rest can get annoying. But being able to go back to your hotel room and just crash on your bed for a few moments is SO much better!

3. You want the best optimal situation for cosplaying

Blue Mountain Village Hotel
Having this much room to prepare your cosplay is WAAY better than changing inside a washroom stall, that’s for sure!

If you’re planning to do an elaborate cosplay or an outfit that requires a lot of preparation, then a hotel room will make your life a LOT easier. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely dread putting my cosplay inside a regular washroom. The washroom stalls are good for doing your business, but not for putting on a costume!

If you have your own hotel room, you don’t have to worry about the logistics of bringing all your cosplay stuff with you to the con (only when you’re coming and leaving the first time). You’ll have your own hotel room to prepare your costume, put on the costume using a full-length mirror, do your makeup, take a nice shower beforehand, etc.

4. Having a convention hotel will make things far more convenient

Anime North Hotels
Being only an elevator ride away from the convention is sooo nice!

You won’t have to worry about logistical things such as:

  • Where to put your stuff. Instead of having to check your coat and bags at the closest hotel or convention center, or carry all that stuff with you around the con, you can leave all that stuff in your hotel!
  • Getting to/from the con each day. While some conventions it can be easy as taking the train to downtown or free parking at a hotel, other cons may not be so simple. Commuting to a convention can be very frustrating, whether it’s taking the bus or waiting in a traffic jam. Not only that, the convention itself might be congested on the roads.
  • Take my experience with Holiday Matsuri in Florida for example.  How glad I was to have a hotel right at the convention. I know when I first arrived  Holiday Matsuri, it was a nightmare to even get into the convention area; the area was clogged with vehicles. And while I noticed there were shuttle buses that took attendees to surrounding hotels or parking lots, they didn’t seem too reliable as the lineups for these shuttles were insanely long. It must have sucked for these commuters or attendees who stayed further out. But for me, I was SO glad that I didn’t even have to worry about these things at all, as I stayed right at the convention!
  • Bonus. You can walk around in your pajamas at night at the convention center! You can just leave all your stuff in the hotel, bring your card key with you and just enjoy walking around the con at night. It’s that amazing.

5. It’s not as expensive as you think

If you split the hotel costs between you and your friends, the cost becomes way more affordable! Photo: Mahou Dreamers.

A convention hotel might look expensive at first. But if you were to split the hotel with 3-4 other people, the costs become far more manageable.

So let’s say a convention hotel is $200 USD a night. If you’re staying for the Friday and Saturday, it’ll be around $400+taxes = $450 USD in total.

Now $450 USD for most people is a lot of money, no question about that. But if you were to split the costs evenly between 4 people, it works out to be $112 USD per person. Now to me, that’s far more reasonable and doable for most.

So for an extra $112, you get to have a MUCH better and much more convenient convention experience. And it’s not like you’re going to conventions every single month; this convention is probably a thing you’re doing once or twice a year. Unless you’re financially strapped (in which case you need to get that sorted out first), I think it’s easy enough to save an extra $100-$200 so you can save for a hotel.

And this is why I always recommend getting a hotel for a convention if possible!

Okay, now that we’ve covered when you should get a hotel, when should you NOT book one?

When to NOT get a cosplay convention hotel nearby

In my opinion, these situations are when you shouldn’t bother…

6. When convention hotels are not even close by

Yes, this does actually happen! There are conventions where a lot of the official con hotels are pretty far away.

The best example where I experienced this was Anime Weekend Atlanta (if you want to read my review about the con, click here. Prior to attending AWA, I never been to Atlanta, so on Google Maps it looked relatively close, just a 10 minute walk from my hotel to the convention center. However, it felt more like 20-25 minutes because I had to walk through a busy road, a few hills, through a mall parking and over a bridge!

Had I known how far my hotel really was to the con, and how inconvenient it was, I would have just stayed somewhere much much further for a much cheaper price. Because I was basically paying premium hotel rates to stay at this hotel, despite the distance. If I stayed an extra 5-10 minute Uber ride away, it would have been close to half the price I paid for my hotel.

In general, the further you stay away from the con, the cheaper it should be. You should not be paying premium prices if the hotel isn’t actually close to the convention center (ie. 5-10 minute walk). If it’s expensive and far, don’t bother booking that hotel.

7. If the convention closes early

This is just my personal opinion, but if the convention doesn’t have late night programming and closes early (e.g. before 10 pm), then you don’t need to book a hotel nearby.

Having a full convention hotel experience is only good if you can enter the con throughout the day and night. If you can only be at the convention for the day, then it’s not worth booking a hotel for it. Unless you have lots of drinks and video games in your hotel room, you and your roommates are going to be bored once the convention closes and you’re forced to chill in the hotel for the rest of the evening. In my opinion, you’re better off just going home or staying at a hotel further away. You’ll have plenty of time to do so since the convention closes early!

The only possible exception to this rule is you’re planning to cosplay some elaborate, and you need a hotel to setup.

8. When hotels are insanely expensive

There are some conventions where the hotels are through the roof expensive, like over $300USD a night. I find overly expensive hotels are common with conventions that take place in a large downtown city, where hotel prices are always going to be expensive to begin with (e.g. Anime Boston). Or the convention is so popular that the demand for hotel room dramatically drives up the prices (e.g. Dragon Con).

 At that point, I’d reconsider staying close to the convention and opt for a cheaper accommodation outside of the convention area.

Again, you can always take a taxi/Uber or public transit for a hotel further away. My friend does this for MAGFest. He would take a 10 minute Uber to/from the convention to his hotel that was only $100 USD/a night!

Also, I want to point out that not all conventions that happen downtown have crazy hotel rates. I went to Sakura-con once in downtown Seattle, and my hotel was about $159 USD/Night, which was pretty cheap considering the location and how big Seattle is!

9. If you’re only attending the convention for 1 day

The Palais des Congres convention centre for Otakuthon
If you’re just passing by the convention for a brief period, then you don’t need a hotel.

If you’re only attending a convention for one day and not the entire weekend, I don’t think it’s worth booking a hotel for it. Chances are, you’re not going to be staying for very long and you won’t be doing any elaborate cosplays if it’s not a weekend affair.

Another personal reason why I don’t like booking for only 1 day is you won’t be able to get a hotel room an entire day. The thing is, most hotels let you check-in around 3 p.m., which is pretty late considering conventions start early in the morning. Not only that, but check-out time the next day is usually 11 a.m. So by the time you unpack your bags and get settled in the afternoon, it’s time to pack it back up in the evening. This doesn’t apply when you’re there for the whole weekend, but definitely does when you only book 1 night.

I’ve booked myself hotels for Anime North for several years. But one year I decided I only wanted to attend for one day, so I didn’t bother getting a hotel this time. I just drove to the convention without even cosplaying and I went home the same night.

10. If you’re brand new to the convention/cosplay community

Last but not least, if you’re just starting to attend cosplay conventions or learning about the cosplay community, then I don’t think you’ll need a hotel.

For most of us that started out, we never fully committed to getting a hotel right away either. For our first convention, we attended only one day (usually Saturday or Sunday) and we didn’t cosplay at all; we wore our normal clothes. In general, we just wanted to see what it was like to be at a cosplay convention, take pictures of cosplays, attend panels and buy stuff at a dealer’s room. We weren’t focused on cosplaying or doing cosplay photoshoots.

And to me, your first experience at a cosplay convention will likely be the same. So you don’t need to worry about getting a hotel if you’re new to the scene. Once you start attending more conventions, you’ll probably have the desire to stay at a convention hotel for the weekend. That’s when it’s time to book a hotel!


To summarize, here are the 10 reasons whether or not you should book a cosplay convention hotel:

  1. When you want the BEST convention experience (Yes)
  2. During a big cosplay convention (Yes)
  3. You want the best optimal situation for cosplaying (Yes)
  4. Having a convention hotel will make things far more convenient (Yes)
  5. It’s not as expensive as you think (Yes)
  6. When convention hotels are not even close by (No)
  7. If the convention closes early (No)
  8. When hotels are insanely expensive (No)
  9. If you’re only attending the convention for 1 day (No)
  10. If you’re brand new to the convention/cosplay community (No)

And there you have it; 10 reasons to help you decide whether to book a hotel for a cosplay convention. You’ll probably fit in one of those categories.

I have a ton of articles regarding cosplay convention hotels if you want to read more about them:

Which convention(s) do you want a hotel room for? Are you currently saving up for a future con? Let me know in the comments below!


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