When is a studio not a studio? | Timeshare Tips

When is a studio not a studio?

When you stay in a timeshare, companies make it sound like choosing a unit size is straightforward. There are studios, 1-bedrooms, 2-bedrooms, etc. But watch out, because a studio isn’t always what you think it is!

Typical timeshare studio layout diagram Here’s a typical studio timeshare layout, but your results could vary – hugely!

When it’s just the two of us traveling, we often stay in studio units. Although I prefer the additional space and comfort of a 1-bedroom, studios often let us get more vacations out of our timeshares, and that’s pretty irresistible! 🙂

Unfortunately, there’s no universal definition of what a “studio” is, and in our travels around the country this summer, we’ve stayed in everything from JUMBO STUDIOS to mini studios.

The “Standard Studio”

When we stayed in Sedona, our timeshare unit was pretty much what I consider a “Standard Studio“. Here’s what we had in this layout:

Timeshare studio layout example Example layout for a “Standard Studio”
  • A living area with couch, chairs, coffee table, end table, and TV / entertainment area.
  • A bedroom which was attached to the living area, without a closing privacy door between them.
  • The sleeping capacity was 4 max (with a fold-out sofa in the living area), but only 2 private (since the living area and bedroom are connected).
  • A dining area with a table and four chairs, which was attached to the living area.
  • A small kitchen area, with a full size fridge, counter space, cabinets, sink, dishes, utensils, and a few pots and pans.
  • For cooking, there was a microwave and stove top, but no standard oven. There was also a dishwasher.
  • One bathroom.
  • A private patio with a couple of chairs and a table outside.

This is my idea of a “Standard Studio“. It’s not huge, but it’s large enough so you’re not sitting on the bed all the time, and it has enough of a kitchen so that you can prepare some meals in your timeshare unit if you’re so inclined.

Not all resorts will include a dishwasher or private balcony/patio with their studio units, but those are certainly nice when you get them! 🙂

The super-sized “JUMBO STUDIO”

Large, comfortable studio timeshare unit Some timeshare studios are super-sized and spacious

On Cape Cod and in San Clemente, we got extra large studio units with a ton of space to spread out and relax. What a joy! These locations gave us everything from the “Standard Studio” plus some extras:

  • A separate bedroom, with a closing door for privacy, located down a hallway from the living room.
  • These studios gave us sleeping capacity 4 max / 4 private, which didn’t matter for us but could in different circumstances.
  • We had significantly more space in these. With physically separate rooms, you’re no longer seeing the bed all the time.

These “JUMBO STUDIOS” would typically be called 1-bedroom units, not studios, since they had the private, separate bedroom. I think they just called these “studios” to differentiate them from other, larger, 1-bedroom units at the same resort.

The teeny tiny “mini studio”

In San Diego, we got an itsy bitsy “mini studio” with barely enough room to move around. This was missing a number of features that are included in “Standard Studios“. The mini studio had the following limitations:

Timeshare mini-studio unit A mini-studio meant sitting on the bed
  • No living area. There was no couch, no coffee or end tables, and no comfy chairs. The TV was on a dresser at the foot of the bed.
  • No dining area. There was no table to eat on, and no chairs to go with it.
  • No kitchen counter, stove, or sink. There was a mini-fridge and a mini-microwave, and that was the extent of the kitchen facilities. The only sink and counter were in the bathroom.
  • No balcony or patio. In fact, the only small window looked out on the wall of the neighboring building, with no view and little light.
  • The sleeping capacity here was 2 max.
  • The space was tiny. You could walk around the edges of the bed, but that’s about it. The only place to sit, eat, watch TV or work on a laptop was on the bed.

These “mini studios” should really be described as “hotel units“, since that’s more accurate. In fact, they were even on the small side for hotel rooms.

Fortunately, a great guy at the front desk was able to move us out of that unit and into a different “studio” that had about twice the space, with a living area, couch, comfy chairs, etc.

It just goes to show that “studios” aren’t always studios!

[adrotate group=”2″]

Lessons for timeshare buyers, renters and exchangers

  • If you’re renting or exchanging into a timeshare resort, see what you can find out about their studio units before you finalize the deal. Read reviews online, check the resort website, or call the resort directly to find out more about what their studios are like.
  • If you’re considering buying a timeshare studio, then this needs to be part of your due diligence in researching the deal. If you’re getting a fixed unit, hopefully you can get a floor plan to see what you’re buying. If you’re buying into a category of units rather than a specific unit, try to find out the range of “studios” that covers.
  • Call the resort before your stay, and ask about how you can get into a good studio, whether that means a larger unit, higher floor, or better view. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes getting your request in early will score you a better unit.
  • If you’re checked into a tiny, not-so-nice unit while you know there are better studios and other units in the resort, see if the front desk people can get you an upgrade.
  • Is this a resort you’ll return to again? If so, then talk to the people on site, and find out what procedure they recommend to get you into your preferred unit. If you find a knowledgeable and helpful person, get their name and extension, so you can speak with them directly next time. There’s nothing like having a great contact!

Comments? Questions?

What’s your experience with staying in studio timeshare units? Have you wound up in any surprisingly large “JUMBO STUDIOS” or teensy weensy “mini studios“? Let us know in the comments!

Timeshare Owner's Guide to Winning the Timeshare Game~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Owning a timeshare can be a wonderful way to get comfortable, cost-effective vacations. There are numerous ways you can use your timeshare to get the vacations you want – exchanging, combining, borrowing, renting, bonuses, 2-for-1s, and more. If you’d like to know how to do more with your timeshare than ever before, check out my new Timeshare Owner’s Guide to Winning the Timeshare Game. It’s full of tips and tactics to help owners get the maximum value and enjoyment from their timeshares.

Category Groups
PHOTO CREDITS:  Studio - Porto Bay Trade


  1. Sterling

    One time I exchanged my week with RCI to get two weeks to use anytime I wanted. I called made my vacation and when we got there it was a studio but this was where the bed came down off the wall each day to sleep in and during the day it was pulled up to make for a living room. I learned my lesson like you said to ask what each room looks like and even called the place before I booked it. I find sometimes if you ask the one on the phone you will get different answers then when you call the place directly. This year we had a better vacation spot because of the due my diligence that the year before when I didn’t do the things you mentioned in your blog or I mentioned above in my comments. I learned the hard way but reading your blogs and getting your book I hope to given more out of my time share going forward in the future. thanks

    • Hi Sterling –
      Ah… the old “Murphy bed studio”! I stayed in one of those before too, and it was kind of a pain. We’d have to move all the other furniture out of the way to put the bed down, and then vice versa in the morning. Normally a timeshare stay doesn’t involve so much furniture moving!

      It sounds like you’re taking a really smart approach now, finding out exactly what you’re going to get. Congratulations! And thanks for sharing your experiences!
      – Deanna.

Leave a Reply

Thanks for sharing! All comments are held for moderation, and manually approved before they appear.