An unmarried couple checks into a hotel room to enjoy some moments of privacy. Only minutes later, the police burst in. They arrest and charge the couple with ‘indecent behaviour in public.’ This is not a movie. This is real life. There are countless incidents where innocent couples were arrested from hotel rooms. The Police arrested them without any valid reason. In a lot of cases, such couples were even blamed for engaging in prostitution.
Only last year, it made headlines when the Police broke into hotel rooms in Mumbai. They arrested some 40-odd couples found in these rooms. The police charged these couples with ‘indecent behaviour.’ But, this harrowing story does not end here. The Police called the parents of these couples, charged Rs. 1200 as fine and delivered a lengthy lecture on morality. All this was enough to make anyone feel guilty of having committed a serious crime.
Related: Court Marriage Procedure in India
All these couples were young adults. Anyone over the age of 18 can legally consent for any kind of physical relationship. Then what was their crime? The crime was that they were unmarried couples. According to the Police, unmarried couples spending time together in a hotel room is ‘immoral.’
Countless real life incidents of this kind even inspired a reel-life scenario, that is, the movie Masaan. The couple checks into a hotel room, only to be arrested later. The boy feels so humiliated that he commits suicide.
This unwarranted couple-shaming and morality lectures give rise to the question.
“Can an Unmarried Couple Legally Book a Hotel Room in India?”
This question is especially relevant for metros like Delhi and Mumbai. This is because such incidents take place more frequently in these cities when compared to smaller cities.
What Does the Law Say About it?
All the moral and actual policing would make you think that staying in hotel rooms is illegal in India if you are an unmarried couple. Be prepared for a big surprise when you come to know that there is no law in India that says this. Yes, there is not a single law that says unmarried couples cannot stay together or book a hotel room.
This is not all. Refusing to let out a hotel room to someone because of their marital status is a violation of fundamental rights.
Time and again, the Supreme Court has said that it is legal for unmarried couples to stay together.
Then why do hotels refuse to let out a room to an unmarried couple? Also, why does the Police arrest such couples?
The answer is simple. Hotels refuse because they fear the Police. The Police arrests because they love to teach ‘moral’ lessons to young couples.
The only exceptions to this rule are five star and other high-end hotels. These hotels do not ask any uncomfortable questions to their guests, nor do they ask for identity or marriage proofs.
Then again, the fact remains that there are only a few couples who can afford to stay in a five-star hotel. The problem arises when you do not have enough money to spend on a five-star hotel.
Even if you tell the hotel management that there is no law that forbids you to book a room, the chances are that they will not relent.
Is There No Other Way?
Don’t despair. Of course, there is a way. In fact, there is not just one way, but many.
First, you can try booking a hotel room through MakeMyTrip or Booking.com. You can book online, and no one will ask you uncomfortable questions. When you check into the hotel, all they will ask you for is a valid identity proof. Please make sure that the identity proof is in the name of the person who made the booking. Also, at the time of booking, read the hotel policies carefully. This will ensure that you do not land up in a hotel that does not allow unmarried couples to stay with them.
Another way is to book through Airbnb. Airbnb is a website that lists local homestays in various cities at affordable prices. It is becoming popular with young couples. More so because of its ease of booking, reasonable rates and of course, no judging and moral policing. While most homestays allow young unmarried couples to stay, there might be some which do not. It would be wise for you to read the house rules before booking.
Also joining the growing list of couple-friendly stay options is OYO Rooms. A recent news report says that the OYO management has grown aware of the problems faced by unmarried couples in India. Therefore, in an attempt to make booking experience more user-friendly, it now allows unmarried couples to book a room under its ‘relationships’ category. As of now, 60 percent of the properties listed on OYO Rooms allow unmarried couples to book a room. The couple only needs to present their local ID proofs to get a room.
Last, but definitely not the least. As usual, some startups are here to solve this unpleasant problem in a way no one else could. These startups allow unmarried couples to book a good hotel room at affordable prices. The best part is that their sole aim is to help unmarried couples find a room, with no judgment attached. Not only this, they make sure that the identity of the couple remains safe. They also provide a guarantee of no police raids. StayUncle and Luvstay are two such startups. They even allow you to book a room for as little as 10 hours.
Please note that both of you will need to carry a valid government ID proof. This is only for security purposes. Also, both of you must be above the age of 18.
Thus, it is not so difficult anymore to book a place and ensure your privacy. Still, please keep two things on your tips:
- A valid government ID for both of you.
- House/Hotel ground rules.
Follow this guide to the T, and stay safe.
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