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Policy Notes: Lodging

On June 15, a new university travel policy was announced that requires the use of Stanford Travel booking channels for university-sponsored travel. See the Travel section of the COVID-19 bulletin for updated policy, guidance and resources.

The University pays reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the course of University-related business travel. University business travelers are expected to use lodging accommodations that are necessary and reasonable. The cost of lodging should be kept to a minimum consistent with a reasonable level of comfort, convenience, and security for the traveler. Standard room rates are generally the most reasonable. Learn more about Business and Travel Expense Reimbursement Policy.

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Booking and Payment

Stanford Travel is the University's preferred travel management service for travelers and arrangers. Special Stanford-negotiated rates for air travel, car rental, and lodging can all be booked through Stanford Travel. Per Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses, use of Stanford Travel booking channels is expected, as it supports the guiding principle to spend appropriately, eliminates the administrative requirement to provide documentation demonstrating the expense is reasonable and also connects travel reservations to International SOS.

Stanford Travel Card is the university's preferred method of payment, but the same guidelines must be followed in the case of reimbursement payment to the traveler.

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Hotel Lodging Rate Guidance

The university has established guidance for reasonable hotel lodging costs including guidance for higher-cost locations. New location guidelines will be updated annually and Stanford Travel will flag hotel rates above guidelines to alert the traveler. A reasonable explanation is required for reimbursements that exceed location guidelines.

Booking Hotel and Lodging

Travelers are expected to use Stanford Travel to book hotel lodging. Use of Stanford Travel eliminates the need to provide comparison lodging rates when traveling on university business.

Lodging booked directly with a hotel or travel agency not associated with Stanford Travel is subject to verification against Stanford Travel's negotiated rates. The expense report must include an attachment documenting proof of lowest rate. The proof of lowest rate documentation is most often in the form of a screenshot of Stanford Travel results taken the same day of booking. The screenshot must visibly note the time and date of the search, include the broadest search results (e.g., all applicable hotels) and should display the same room type parameters (e.g., basic, deluxe). See How To: Document a Hotel / Lodging Comparison.

Conference Hotels

Conference hotels may be booked directly with the hotel at the conference rate, even if the conference rate exceeds Stanford's hotel rate guidance. When multiple conference hotel options are available, the traveler should choose the mid-price option. Five star hotels may be selected when they are the only hotel for the conference. If the only room available is at a five star property, support must be provided showing all other rooms were sold out. It is best practice to take a screenshot of the conference website where it lists all conference hotels, as conference websites do not always preserve that information after the conference. Attach this screenshot to the expense request and note that it was the conference hotel in the business purpose.

Hotel Lodging Rate Guidance (valid through 2020)
Location Average Nightly Room Rate (excludes taxes/fees)
Domestic $200
Palo Alto and vicinity (10 miles from city center) $450
New York City, San Francisco $350
Geneva, London
Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. $300
Hong Kong, Paris, Shenzhen, Tokyo
Los Angeles area (includes Los Angeles County, Ventura County and Orange County), San Diego, Seattle $250
Accra, Bangalore, Beijing, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Toronto, Vancouver B.C.
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Reimbursement Options

The traveler may be reimbursed for actual lodging expenses or be paid a per diem rate in connection with official University travel. The method selected must be used for the entire trip.

See Resources: Per Diem Rates, including:

  • General Per Diem Information
  • Reviewing Per Diem Rates
  • Automatic Adjustments to Per Diem Rates
  • Multiple Stops

Departments may elect to pay per diem for fewer days than the actual stay and may decrease the amount of per diem to reflect actual expenses.

Foreign and domestic travel expenses are payable by the same methods. See Resources: Per Diem Rates page.

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Non-Business Days

Weekends, holidays, and other necessary standby days may only be counted as business days if they fall between business travel days. If a traveler chooses to arrive early or to stay longer for non-business reasons, the University does not pay for expenses during additional personal days. The only exceptions are when travel is at a lower total cost if the traveler stays over a weekend or holiday, with department approval and/or when traveling more than 8 time zones, travelers may arrive one day ahead of the event (for example, the conference starts on Monday, it is ok to arrive on Sunday). The traveler must document the reason for this extra expense in order to support the non-business-day payment.

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Local Travel

Local travel is defined as less than 50 miles one way from Stanford or the traveler's residence –– whichever is greater. Barring exceptional business reasons, local travel does not qualify for an overnight stay.

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Travel Expenses of Spouse or Other Traveling Companion

In general, the expenses of a spouse, family member, or other person accompanying the business traveler are not payable. Such expenses are only payable if the accompanying person has a position with the University and is traveling to make a significant contribution in furtherance of University business.

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Documentation of Expenses

Expense reports with relevant supporting documents attached must be completed for all travel expenses paid by the University. For lodging expenditures, an itemized bill (folio) showing all charges and proof of payment must be attached to the lodging line in the expense report via the Expense Requests system. See demo on attaching supporting documents.

No receipt is required when claiming per diem reimbursement for lodging.

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Sabbatical Lodging

Sabbatical lodging expenses are paid only if the faculty member incurs two sets of living expenses simultaneously and there is a stated Stanford business purpose for the expenses incurred during the sabbatical. If the primary home is rented out, the faculty member may not be paid for lodging expenses at a location away from Stanford.

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