Last Updated on November 25, 2021
Maybe you’ve stayed out partying into the wee small hours and need somewhere to crash.
Or maybe you’ve got an red eye flight and know you will be arriving at your hotel early in the morning.
The question is…
Do hotels let you check in early?
And if so, what’s the earliest you can check-in and will it cost you extra?
Let’s find out.
What Time Can You Check Into A Hotel?
The normal check-in time for hotels is usually 3 pm but check-in time can vary a little.
But it’s often possible to check-in to your room a few hours early at no additional cost.
The thing is hotels don’t usually guarantee early check in.
If you have a booked and want to get into your hotel room early before 3 pm you can put in an early check-in request.
You can either call the hotel or just ask the front desk clerk when you arrive if your room is ready.
The hotel can’t guarantee you a very early check-in because they are hoping to sell the room to another guest. If the hotel is fully booked the night before your stay then all the rooms are sold up and occupied until late in the morning of your arrival day.
The fact that another guest could be in your hotel room the night before you determines the earliest that the hotel can let you into your room.
How Early Can You Check Into A Hotel
The earliest you can check into a hotel is when the guest for the previous night has left. Makes sense right?
Hotels will usually let you check-in early a little before check-in time if they have available rooms. We’re talking three, four, or five hours before the official check in time.
Even if your room is not ready the hotel might let you use some of the hotel facilities. You can hang around in the hotel lobby or reception area, they might let you use the hotel business center or fitness facilities. Hotels often will store your luggage for you so you can explore the city while you are waiting.
But hotels have limits to how early you’ll you’ll get your room key without additional cost.
And fees for checking in early are becoming more and more common. So you might find yourself in this situation:
It works like this.
The hotel industry usually sells rooms on a per night basis. You don’t pay for a room for a 24 hour period. You pay for somewhere to sleep for the night, and a night means 3 pm one day until 11 am the next day. By and large, that’s the way the industry works.
Most hotels have a check out time of 11 am. Of course, some guests vacate their room before that time, but the hotel doesn’t always know that unless they have returned the room key and formally checked out. Since you don’t need to formally check out hotel staff aren’t always aware when guests have left.
The period between 11 am and 3 pm is when housekeeping staff are hard at work cleaning the hotel rooms.
Once a room has been cleaned it becomes available for the next guest.
If you ask nicely the front desk clerk might let you get one of the first rooms to be cleaned.
But remember, on the flip side of the coin, some guests might have asked nicely for a late check-out.
And every guest can’t be allowed to check-in early. There may be other early arrivers. So it very much depends on if the hotel has sold out all it’s rooms and how the room cleaning process is going that day.
Of course, you can check-in to a hotel as early as you like if you book and pay for the night before. That’s the only way to guarantee you’ll be able to get in to your room if you arrive really early.
When Does Late Check-In Become Early Check-In?
A major hotel chain will have someone at the front desk 24 hours a day. If they have availability they want your business.
Checking into a hotel after midnight or early in the morning in the wee small hours is usually considered to be a late check-in for the previous day.
That means if you check into a hotel at 3 am for a one night stay then you’ll probably be expected to leave just 8 hours later.
You can request a late check-out that might get you a couple of extra hours if the hotel can manage it. They can simply instruct housekeeping to clean your room last.
If you need longer than that you will need to book the hotel for 2 nights which is obviously going to cost you more money.
Of course, everything is negotiable. If you want to check into a hotel around breakfast time and don’t want to pay for 2 nights there is no harm in asking. Your best bet is to call the hotel directly and explain what time you would be arriving and leaving and ask what the price would be.
If the hotel has rooms available and if they want your business they will try to accommodate you.
Early Check In Hotels
There are some hotels that don’t sell their rooms on a per night basis.
These could be called early check-in hotels, 24-hour hotels, or day use hotels.
These hotels will have the most flexibility around when you can check-in and check-out.
You can even rent a room for just a few hours if you want. Check out dayuse.com for last minute, early check-in hotels.
The Bottom Line
You can sometimes check into a hotel a few hours early.
Some hotels charge a small fee for this by usually it’s just something they will do if they are able to.
They don’t make any promises since whether they’ll be able to do this depends on occupancy rates.
If you want to make sure you’ll be able to get into your hotel room early you need to book your stay for the previous night.