How Late Can You Check Into a Hotel?

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Long haul international travels and the increasing popularity of remote, far-flung destinations have led to an increasing number of guests traipsing in at hotels at any hour – some late, some early. Although there is no rule book that decides what a late check-in is and what is not, you certainly know that you’re checking in late when you were supposed to be standing at the hotel reception a few hours back already.

If you ever landed at a destination far beyond the time when hotels at the same place usually start checking-in, you must have found yourself asking numerous questions, the one starting with, ‘What if I check-in late into a hotel?’.

To clear the air, here is a post on everything about late check-ins at hotels, wherein we answer numerous frequently asked questions, all while giving you 3 valuable tips on what you can do to make your check-in process smoother, especially when you’re awfully late.

What is considered a late-night check-in?

To understand what you can call a late-night check-in, you need to know when the hotel you reserved for usually starts checking guests in. The traditional check-in for most hotels is around 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Now, let’s say the usual check-in time for a hotel is 2 p.m., and you arrive anywhere between 10 p.m. to some point in the midnight – the hotel will definitely consider that a late check-in. As we’ve mentioned before, most hotels don’t come with a rulebook that classifies check-ins based on time, but there are a few hotels that do not let the guests check-in after a specified time. Though this is not the case with every tourist destination, there are a few inns and guest properties in Taiwan that close their reception after a certain time.

To conclude, if you’re checking in between 10 p.m. – 3 a.m., you can consider it as late check-in.

Can you check into a hotel late at night?

Yes, you can check into a hotel late at night. Although even the most remote inns and the more luxurious skyscrapers have a set check-in time, you can always check in later than the prescribed window, even at night.

However, if you are checking-in late at night, it is highly recommended to let the hotel reception know that you’ll be checking in at some point in the midnight. You can give them an estimated time of when you will be reaching the hotel; do not forget to factor in the time needed to disembark, get your luggage, get through customs, and the time needed to reach the hotel from the airport. This is important to confirm that you’ll be showing up at the hotel, and as long as you have confirmed you’ll be checking-in, you can check in anytime at night.

If I check into a hotel after midnight, when do I have to check out?

Even if you check into a hotel after midnight, you need to check-out at the hotel’s fixed check-out time. You may think that since you haven’t used your room from the time check-ins start, you should be allowed to check-out late too, that is simply not how hotel stays work.

Below is more about it…

If I check-in late, am I allowed to check-out late too?

Have you ever felt exhausted at 4 in the morning when you hit the hotel bed, and suddenly you remember you need to check-out at 11 in the morning? We understand that it can be an absolutely outrageous feeling.

Now, the question is, will you be allowed to check-out late, just because you checked-in late too? When we are talking about checking-out an hour late or so, yes, most hotels grant their guests an hour or two’s late check-out free of cost. However, if you want to stay longer than that, many hotels offer their guests late check-outs at a price if requested in advance.

What if you have not requested in advance or if the hotel probably does not offer late-checkouts? Although a discreet bill of $25 handed to the desk clerk usually does the work, if you’re still not allowed a complimentary extension, you can ask the reception to accept the half-day rate for the room. Most hotels, depending on the demand and availability of rooms, allow guests to check-out late at a payment of $30 – $50 dollars or at a half-day rate of the room’s base charge.

Am I charged extra for late check-ins?

No, you are not charged anything for late check-ins. If you do not check-in within a certain time period, the room is most often sold to someone else because the hotel counted you as a no-show.

The hotel never charges anything for late-check-ins because you have technically reserved the room for one whole day from the time of check-in on one business day to the time of check-out on the next business day.

Are there flexible check-in hotels?

From the not-so-popular inns to the five-star hotels, a significant number of hotels have operated under a 3 p.m. check-in and an 11 p.m. check-out. Now, people arriving at their destinations at odd hours that are way ahead or beyond these set-up check-ins and check-out times find this long-held operational tactic immensely frustrating.

This is why many hotels have found a way to turn this frustration into an opportunity with flexible check-in and check-outs. Flexible check-in hotels allow guests to check-in early or late for a certain charge. This is a win-win for both the guests and the revenue of the hotel since guests get the flexibility they want while traveling and hotels get some extra cash for their unsold rooms.

As flexible check-in attracts more B&B guests on any hotel’s listing, more and more innovative hotels are starting to profit off of this trend, all while gaining more acceptance from potential guests.

A number of hotels, including popular hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton, are offering Flexi-check-ins to their guests to drive ancillary revenue and provide guests with one less thing to worry about while planning a trip.

How do flexible check-in hotels work?

Flexible check-in hotels work on one simple principle: they sell their unsold rooms from the night before to a guest who wishes to check-in before the stringent check-in time of 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Imagine disembarking a 12-hour long sleepless flight, only to arrive at a hotel that says, ‘Check-in isn’t allowed anytime before 5 hours from now.’ Flexible check-in hotels often have spare rooms that were unsold from the night before or are still unsold while the usual check-in time has already passed. They sell these rooms to guests who wish to get a room before or after the usual check-in time.

Neither does this impact the existing operations, nor does it influence the current workload of the hotel staff, thus generating revenue and starting off on the right foot with their guests at the same time.

When do check-ins usually start?

Check-in usually starts at around 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The primary reason behind this is that the cleaning staff usually takes 2-4 hours to clean the rooms post the previous guests have checked out.

Can I check-in early?

Hotels usually clock in check-outs during the mid-day between 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. to give guests enough time to get ready, have breakfast, gather their belongings at a leisurely pace, and leave without any hassle. Next, the staff get started on their cleaning rota and get the rooms serviced and ready to reserve by 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (the traditional check-in time).

Now, when you’ve arrived earlier than the standard check-in time, the fact whether you can check-in early or not depends on 2 main factors:

The hotel you’re checking-in to: Numerous hotels offer flexible check-ins, therefore, allowing you to check-in anytime, given that you’ve already requested an early check-in and paid for the same.

In some cases, even when the hotel is not a flexible one, it may allow early check-in for a certain quote, depending on the availability and the demand of the season.

Booking for two nights: Some hotels may ask you to book for two nights in order to check-in early. For example: If you arrive at 7 a.m. in the morning of 11th October, when the standard check-in time is 11 a.m., the hotelier can ask you to book for the day before, i.e., 10th October and 11th October (since the check-out time of 10th October hasn’t yet arrived).

If I check-in late, will my room be reserved or sold?

Most reservations cancel automatically post 2 a.m. if you haven’t checked in by then. This means, if another person, who wants to check-in early at the hotel, asks for a room, they will probably be assigned your room because the hotel has considered you a no-show post 2 a.m. Although there’s no fixed time, most hotels do cancel reservations at some point in the middle of the night. That is unless you have made an advance deposit for guaranteeing the reservation. In this case, the hotel may hold your room for over 2 a.m.

The easiest way to go about late check-ins is to phone the hotel and confirm the reservation. You can also pay the hotel an advance deposit to ensure that you’ll be coming, even if you check in late.

If you’ve already paid the complete amount of the room you reserved (at least for the first night), the hotel may hold your room even if you don’t show up.

Here are 3 things you can do when you check-in late in a hotel to make the process smoother:

These 3 things can make checking-in late easier for both you and the staff manning the front desk:

Communicate and inform beforehand

If you are checking-in late, we have mentioned countless times to call the hotel beforehand and let them know that you will be arriving, no matter how late. Since most hotels operate throughout the day and night, there will always be someone to make the whole check-in process easier when you arrive, given that you’ve already communicated to them about it.

One generous tip goes a long way

Several reports say tipping the staff makes the process not only easier but may also get you a free upgrade (if the hotel is generous and you are lucky). You may get to have a minibar, extra services, and a corner room since corner rooms are usually more spacious.

Keep your verification documents ready

Keep your passport and other verification documents ready before you arrive at the hotel. This way, you can quickly have the concierge slide you by, and you can finally fetch some sleep.

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Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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