I'm re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and this line is doing me in:

"The dormitory door flew open and in came the other second-year Gryffindor boys, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, and Neville Longbottom"

Am I to understand that an entire year group share one room? At the risk of sound too melodramatic -- I feel like I'm experiencing life in a new light?!

I'm under the assumption that the Gryffindor Dormitories have 14 floors in total; 7 for girls and 7 for boys, and that each floor was dedicated to a specific year group (1 - 7).

But, I always thought there was more than one bedroom on each dormitory floor? For example if there were 20 first-year Gryffindor boys, surely not all 20 would share one bedroom? That perhaps they'd be split into groups of 5, and that they'd each be allocated one of 4 bedrooms available on their floor?

This concept is eating me alive, because, while I understand there being only being 5 boys total in Harry's year (born in the middle of a war) -- what about every other year?

A lot of fanfiction I read has, for example, the Marauders being the only other boys in their bedroom. Is the common consensus similar to mine, and that there are other bedrooms on each dormitory floor? or should we assume that canonically, there were like 15 other boys in their room?

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    Isn't dormitory the building, it doesn't say the dormitory room door flew open. It could be they just entered that years dormitory floor and the rooms are separated, they also may have a just come on in policy to their individual rooms.
    – Villan
    Jan 7, 2022 at 14:28
  • 17
    I think this falls under "JK Rowling is bad at maths" Jan 7, 2022 at 14:51
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    If a Wizarding tent can have a three-room flat including a functioning bathroom and kitchen, or a magically-modified Ford Anglia can fit most of the Weasleys plus Harry, there might not be an issue with dormitory size versus student number. Jan 7, 2022 at 14:59
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    Having a bunch of boys share one room together seems pretty standard for a (stereotypical, old-fashioned) British boarding school.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 7, 2022 at 18:25
  • Just a minor point, the girls dormitories are accessed through a separate staircase. My guess is the girls are either in a separate tower (each tower with 7 floors) or on the other side of the same tower. Magic spaces that are bigger on the inside (and grow on demand) may also be involved, which make the answer difficult.
    – Kyle A
    Jan 8, 2022 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


Yes, there's likely only one room per year group

I think the main confusion comes from different definitions of the word dormitory in American English versus British English.

In British English, a dormitory is typically "a room for several people to sleep in, especially in a school or other institution." This sleeping arrangement is commonly seen in media portrayals of orphanages, where there's a row or rows of beds all in the same room.

In American English, a dormitory is typically "a building for university or college students to live in." Other terms for this would be a residence hall, or halls of residence.

At Hogwarts, the use of the term "dormitories" would follow the British English, so it would make more sense to picture a large room with several beds.

Definitions from: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/dormitory

  • 4
    American college dorm rooms are usually shared by 2 (or sometimes 4) students as well. They are just not barracks style, like Hogwarts. Jan 8, 2022 at 0:11
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    @Xavon_Wrentaile And that's the confusion. In America people not sharing your multi-person "dorm room" could still be in your dorm (just in another room). But not in England, since the big room and the dorm are the same thing. Jan 8, 2022 at 1:57
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    @Xavon_Wrentaile - No matter how likely any given number is, there's the additional "dorm room" designation in US Eng which in the UK would be tautological. A dormitory is a room, not a building.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 8, 2022 at 11:18

As Daniel Roseman said in a comment above:

I think this falls under "JK Rowling is bad at maths"

As far as I know, it's pretty well established that the question "how many students per year in Hogwarts" has no good answer. No matter how you look at it, the numbers mentioned in various places just don't add up.

What we do know for certain is the size of Harry's dormitory room: 5 people. To quote from the first book, when Harry first arrives in their bedroom:

... they found their beds at last: five four-posters hung with deep red, velvet curtains.

And henceforth whenever Harry's dormitory room is mentioned, there are exactly 5 inhabitants there: Harry, Ron, Neville, Dean and Seamus.

So, depending on what number of students per year you like to have, either they are all in one room (and hence Harry's year has only 5 students), or they are split into groups, probably around 5 per room (which is how most real world dormitories look, at least in my experience). Magic spaces that are bigger on the inside probably account for the spatial oddities.


There is no indication of more than one bedroom per house per year

Granted we only have the Gryffindor boys of Harry's year to go off of, but as far as hard facts go that's all we have. That said, magic being what it is (especially at Hogwarts!) contracting and expanding rooms to fit the student population wouldn't be surprising. JK has said the average year-class for a house at Hogwarts is 30, so about 15 for each gender. That isn't beyond the pale for a single big dorm room.

My other thought is additional rooms could simply appear out of thin air! For example if there are 2x the amount of Gryffindor boys the year after Harry's the door harry enters to get to "his" Dorm room his 1st year may well open up onto a short hallway leading to 2 five-person rooms for the next year's batch of Gryffindor firsties. Again, we have no indication either of these idea are "correct" and for all we know (given an average size of 15 male/female students) if more students are added the four-posters simply become double or even triple-decker bunk beds and life just gets lived cramped. After all, the dorms seem to be primarily a sleeping place, not a living quarter or place to do work (the house common rooms and library seem to be where that sort of thing gets done) and therefor you don't need a ton of space.


There is perhaps one indication that there are multiple dormitories per year. In Chapter Eleven of Order of the Phoenix we find the following:

“I’ll talk to you how I want,” said Harry, his temper rising so fast he snatched his wand back from his bedside table. “If you’ve got a problem sharing a dormitory with me, go and ask McGonagall if you can be moved, stop your mummy worrying —”

And shortly thereafter:

“You know what?” said Seamus heatedly, casting Harry a venomous look. “He’s right, I don’t want to share a dormitory with him anymore, he’s a madman.”

This seems to imply that there are other dormitories that Seamus could have conceivably switched to.

However, one could argue that the suggestions of angsty teens in fits of rage need not reflect practical reality, or that the dormitory Seamus would switch to would be that of a different year.

In any case it is hard to reconcile this possibility with the fact that in six years of school we never see any Gryffindor boys in Harry's year apart from the four he shares a dormitory with, though I dealt with this somewhat in this answer and this answer.


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