It’s 6 am, and you have just landed at your destination city after a long, sleepless red-eye flight.
Though you were super excited about the trip yesterday, today you just want to get to your hotel room and crawl right into bed.
Unfortunately, check-in at the hotel doesn’t open up for another 8 hours, and that makes you want to die.
What to do?
Here are tips for how to check in early at hotels:
1. Always Call the Hotel First
Hotels start getting the picture of how likely it’ll be for you to check in early to your room a few days before. By looking at their occupancy rates for the night before, they can tell you over the phone how likely or possible it is for you to arrive to your room hours before the scheduled time.
Call the hotel the night before, and explain your circumstances. Ask them politely if there’s any way you could check in to the hotel early. Then, fingers crossed!
Hotels usually have check in times beginning in the early afternoon, around 2pm to 4pm. Keep in mind that though you could be allowed to check in early, you may have to pay for the privilege—sometimes up to as much as 50% of the cost of another night!
2. Check In Early
Many hotels have options where you can check in online or via their app to save you some time upon arrival. But, you can also usually do it over the phone when you call them (for step 1 above). Checking in early doesn’t mean you’ll get your room any earlier, but it may be a step towards that.
For example, when you call the hotel and they tell you they have some vacancy the night before, see if you can check in early right over the phone. If they’re nice and able, they could assign one of the vacant rooms to you, ensuring it’s ready for you when you get there.
3. DON’T Check In Early
Don’t check in early when the receptionist tells you that the rooms are fully booked the night prior. Though not universal, most hotels which offer check in options days before your stay usually assign a specific room number to you upon check in.
If you check in the day before you arrive and the hotel reservation system assigns you to a room where someone waits until the last minute to vacate it, well, that’s not fun. You’ll have to wait longer until housekeeping tidies it up and gets it ready for you, as well.
4. Hang Around the Lobby
If you arrive at the hotel and they don’t have any rooms available yet, hang around the lobby as you wait. Your constant presence near the receptionist will help make sure that getting you to the first available room as soon as possible remains at the forefront of their mind.
I arrived early to an Ibis Styles hotel in Lviv, Ukraine, a few years back, and this tactic helped me get a room 4 hours early—and I hadn’t known I was even employing this trick. I simply sat down in the lobby to take care of some work while connected to their internet, and 20 minutes later, I was in my room!
Also, while waiting in the lobby or reception area, head to the espresso machine and make one of the many types of coffee they have available.
5. Be Polite
If you’re asking for early check-in at a hotel and you haven’t already been guaranteed it, you have no right to complain or get irritated at the hotel receptionist. Be friendly and polite the entire time, even if you end up waiting until the hotel’s regular check-in time. The words “please” and “thank you,” accompanied by a sincere smile, will definitely help your case (or at least not hurt it).
Mariia Kislitsyna, writer at Dauntless Jaunter and former reception manager at one of the world’s largest hotel chains, says, “Sometimes we’d have guests hanging around in the lobby waiting for the moment when a room is made available to them. Then they see another guest walk in, go to reception, and successfully get an early check in hotel room. Some of our guests get so angry, marching straight over to reception and demanding to know why someone else got an early check in hotel room before they did.”
Why does this happen?
“There are several reasons why that scenario could happen,” Mariia explains. “The most likely reason is that the guest who successfully checked in early had a different room type than the guest forced to wait longer. For example, the waiting guest might have booked a standard double room, but the other guest may have paid for an executive suite. Another reason might be that the waiting guest might think that someone is checking in, but really they’re just replacing their room card after having lost it, or some other business at the front desk.”
Don’t assume you’re being treated unfairly and jump to conclusions—there’s usually a reason, and you’ll have now lost the receptionist’s innate desire to do what they can to help you.
Remember, free early check in at hotels is usually a privilege, not a requirement!
6. Be Elite
Elite status offers many benefits, depending on the hotel chain and the level of your frequent stay program. One perk for many elite-level guests is an early check-in option, letting you get for free what other early arrivers may have to pay for.
However, these are always subject to availability, so don’t just assume you’ll get it just because you’re a diamond guest. If the hotel is fully booked, they’re not going to kick someone out early just so you can enter!
7. Pay For It
You usually know well in advance how early you might arrive at a hotel. You also can find out the check in time by visiting the hotel’s website.
So, if you know the flight getting you there is going to be a nightmare, book the night before your arrival, as well, if you can afford it. However, make sure to let them know that you’ll be arriving the following morning, as they may cancel your reservation as a no-show and charge you the full amount.
Also, if you don’t want to pay for a full night but the hotel receptionist won’t bend the rules for you and allow you an early check in, see if there are hourly options. Some hotels, such as the Accor Hotels (e.g., Ibis, Novotel, Sofitel, Mercure) have rates where you can book a 3-hour, 6-hour, or even 9-hour stay. You could use this to take that much-needed nap until your actual room is ready for you.
8. Stay at a 24-Hour Check-In/Check-Out Hotel
There are many types of hotels out there, but if you have your heart set on checking in early (or you make a habit out of it), the best type of hotel for you would be one which offers check-ins and check-outs around the clock, 24 hours a day.
These hotels work in 24-hour cycles, meaning usually that if you check in at 10am, you’ll have to check out by 10am on the day of your departure, as well. But, if you’re always arriving early, or you know you need some Zs, this type of hotel may be your best option.
9. Make Use of the Hotel’s Facilities
Let’s say—gasp—that you aren’t granted hotel early check in. All isn’t lost! Though you couldn’t check in, you can still make use of many of the hotel’s offerings, usually for free.
Most hotels have a luggage storage area, so you can drop off your heavy backpack or suitcase for an immediate boost in comfort. Then, relax in the lounge area, use the hotel’s public restroom to wash up, grab a drink or meal in the hotel bar or restaurant, or get some work done in the hotel’s business center. Maybe the hotel even has an executive lounge where you can sneak a nap, if you need it.
Keep in mind that the chances of getting early check in at hotels, whether paid or otherwise, gets lower the earlier you arrive. So, stay optimistic, hope for the best, and maybe pray to your preferred travel goddess or god to grant you your wish 🙂
Well, that’s all our tips on how to check in early at hotels, and we hope you found this helpful and easy to put to use! Got any feedback, questions, early check in stories, or other advice for early check in hotel success? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!