The standard time for guests to check in at a hotel in the United States is 3 PM or 4 PM. Each hotel establishment has its own set of guidelines regarding early check-ins. If the hotel room is ready for the guests, the hotel may allow you to check in before the standard time.
Hotels in the US have their respective protocols relative to early check-in or late check-out. Statistically speaking, more than 60% of hotels in America have a check-in time of 3 PM, while the rest permit a check-in time of 4 PM. The figures already included the major hotel chains in the county, including Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Comfort Inn.
Hotels must ensure that every guest’s room is pleasant, ready, and clean. They need ample time to clean, change linens, disinfect, and provide toiletries for the succeeding guests. The goal of having a standard hotel check-in time is to prepare the room for the next guest.
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How do you ask for early check-in?
Early check-in at a hotel is possible in the US. You can initially call the front desk a day before your hotel arrival and request early check-in. If the hotel can accommodate your request, the front desk will gladly accept you for early check-in.
Factors you have to consider before asking for an early check-in
Your request for early check-in heavily depends on the hotel’s occupancy rate. For instance, the hotel has an occupancy rate of 100% the night before your arrival, so there will be little chance for the hotel to approve your request. Early check-in might not be possible if you booked accommodation during peak seasons.
You have to consider that the hotel rooms are unavailable upon arrival, and the maintenance and cleaning staff would need to prepare your booked accommodation. The previous guests have occupied the said accommodation, and cleaning is the hotel’s top priority to ensure happy and satisfied guests.
Most hotels would be glad to grant your early check-in request, but it also depends on the room type you already booked. Hotels can accommodate you and send you to any available room in their establishments, but you need to consider the room type.
If you book a luxury hotel room, and the only available room is a standard economy room, you might reconsider your request for early check-in. It also applies if you booked an economy room, and the available ones are deluxe rooms; the hotel can allow you for early check-in, but with a corresponding upgrade fee.
If you get lucky, the hotel may have an available room like the booked accommodation, but they can ask for additional charges. Some high-end hotels like Hyatt readily have rooms for early guests, but you need to purchase them for an additional fee. If you have a member status, the hotel staff may prioritize you.
Of course, there will be cases where there is no room vacancy to grant your request; if you arrive four or six hours before check-in, you can ask for luggage storage. You can request the hotel staff to store your luggage and keep it safe while waiting for the right check-in time.
It is the next best option for you, especially if you want to explore the hotel’s vicinity or nearby places. Using the hotel’s luggage storage, you can enjoy the amenities early on, such as the gym, cafeteria, lobby, or swimming pools. This way, you have no baggage carrying or dragging during your short detour.
Is it rude to ask for early check-in?
It is not rude to ask for early check-in. You can still be polite and pleasant to the hotel staff when you request room availability earlier than the standard check-in time. You can always call the hotel firsthand and inform them about your check-in time to avoid becoming rude.
Here are the things you should do in case of early check-in:
Inform and call the hotel first
If you know the exact time of your arrival at the hotel, which can be three or four hours earlier, you can call the hotel a night before to request an early check-in. Hotels know their occupancy rate daily and can instantly approve or reject your request depending on the room vacancies.
When you call the front desk, the staff can quickly determine whether they can approve your early check-in request. By looking at the booking rates, you will know if it is possible to check in early.
Calling the hotel means asking them nicely for any room availability. You should also explain your circumstances, so they will know how they can help you. It is also important to inform them of the exact time of your arrival so they can prepare the room early.
Check in early online or via the app.
Hotels nowadays have online sites and apps where you can check your booking and possibly check in. It can save the hotel guests some time upon their arrival, too. Doing this allows you to enjoy early check-in, especially if the website or app permits. You must confirm it with the front desk once you arrive at the hotel lobby.
Wait at the lobby
If the front desk informs you that the hotel cannot grant you an early check-in, you can always stay and wait in the lobby. The staff would gladly accommodate you within the vicinity to make you feel comfortable. You can also ask for luggage storage, so you do not have to bring your baggage.
You can also ask for free internet access and entertain yourself while waiting in the hotel lobby. In this way, you will always be satisfied with room availability.
Always be nice and friendly. Being polite can go a long way, particularly with hotel and hospitality staff. It would not be nice of you to complain if the hotel staff cannot grant your request. Once a hotel room becomes vacant, the team may prioritize you with the right attitude.
Pay additional fees
Paying the corresponding early check-in fees is the best resort if you need a room badly and do not want to wait in the lobby. Some hotel establishments can automatically grant your early check-in request if you are willing to pay. High-end hotels like Hyatt have this scheme for their active members.
In this way, you can quickly secure the room upon your arrival. This kind of option is suitable for busy people or for tourists who want to relax straight to the room from the airport.
Choose a 24-hour check-in/check-out hotel.
Hotel establishments are very diverse. You have many options for which hotel to book based on your specific needs. If you constantly request an early check-in during your travels, you should know the convenience of booking at a 24-hour check-in/check-out hotel.
These kinds of hotels have specific booking cycles. If you check in at 1 PM, you must check out at the exact time the next day. It is more convenient for backpackers to arrive at the hotel early or late.
Enjoy the facilities
Some hotels have lounge areas for guests to stay and relax. You have the option to enjoy these hotel offerings for free. You can maximize the hotel amenities if the establishment fails to approve your request.
What is considered late check-in at a hotel?
Late check-in is also standard among hotel establishments. Typically, hotels expect their guests to arrive around 3 PM and 4 PM based on the standard check-in time. But for latecomers, guests can have a late check-in until 10 PM.
Arriving late in your accommodation is expected since there are unforeseeable circumstances. You must inform your hotel if you come late to your booked accommodation. In this way, the staff can still secure your room and would not resort to canceling it.
The hotel front desk is always available 24/7, and you can always approach them even when you are running late. But we still recommend giving them the heads up so they will keep your slot private.
Some hotels might consider it a no-show guest if you intend to have a late check-in but need to inform the hotel. If the staff thinks your reservation is a no-show, they can automatically book your hotel for another guest.
The hotel can hold the room until you arrive at the lobby. It is a simple protocol you should follow in the hospitality industry. For this reason, it is crucial to call or email the hotel about your intention to do a late check-in.
For your reference, here are the standard late check-in times among different hotels in the United States:
Late arrivals at budget hotels
If you are staying at a budget-friendly hotel or small hotel, consider 7 PM as your late check-in. These hotels only have a few rooms, and they can quickly sell them to another guest if you extend beyond the booking hours.
Late arrivals at midrange hotels
There is no standard late check-in time among hotels in America. For medium-sized hotels, expect late check-in to be a bit later than in small hotels. Since staff is waiting for you in the lobby, these hotels can offer you a 9 PM or 10 PM check-in time even if you run late.
Again, it would help if you informed the front desk of your late arrival. This way, they can wait for you in the lobby and hand in your hotel keys.
Late arrivals at large hotel chains
Convenience is essential in a hotel and hospitality enterprise; large chain hotels understand that. So, if you stay at a large chain hotel, you can enjoy 24-hour check-in.
It is because plenty of hotel staff is waiting for you in the lobby. There are more rooms than small and midrange ones; there is a considerable possibility of room vacancy.
Big chain hotels cannot automatically cancel your booking even if you are late for check-in. They expect the guest to arrive at any time of the booking date and want to use the accommodation. It will still help you call the front desk and email them in case of late check-in.
Checking in at hotels is easy if you follow their standard protocols. Hotels understand the different needs of their guests and know how to deal with early or late check-ins.
As a responsible guest, you must communicate or coordinate with your hotel so that the hotel can adjust to your circumstances. It can also build a good relationship between you and the hotel if you follow their check-in protocol.