Checking into a hotel is usually the easiest part of the trip, after loading and unloading your luggage, finding your flight, and all the obstacles at the airport or the confusion on the road.
Most hotels allow their guests to check-in after midnight without any problems. Hotels are more flexible with check-in than bed and breakfasts or house and apartment rentals, as they usually do not have staff waiting in the lobby around the clock for your arrival.
Check-in policies vary between hotels and accommodations. We have compiled everything you need to know about check-in requirements and scenarios to help you navigate your booking.
Important Information about Late Check-In
What if I am late to check-in?
If you are late for check-in, it is not a problem as long as you call the hotel in advance and let them know your expected arrival time.
What if I can not call to let them know I will arrive late for check-in?
If for some reason you can’t call or email ahead of time, the hotel should still hold your reservation. Let’s say that when you arrive, you find out that the hotel has given away your reserved room. In this case, the hotel should be able to place you in another room or find your accommodations with hotel groups in the area and offer you cordiality vouchers.
Keep in mind that this only applied if you already paid in full or at least paid a reservation fee. If you utilized the ‘pay at the property’ feature to avoid getting your credit card charged, then the hotel might not necessarily need to hold your reservation. Read more about this at our tips about booking a hotel room without a credit card.
Can I check out late if I check-in late?
No, late check-in does not extend the check-out time. If you arrive at 3:00 AM and the check-out time is at 11:00 AM, you must still vacate the room by 11:00.
How late is too late to check-in at a hotel?
Somewhere between check-in time and before check-out time. You can check-in a few hours before your check-out time. So, for example, if you arrive around 9:00 and check out at 11:00, you can still use the room for that short period of time, assuming the hotel did not give your room away.
Do hotels have staff to check-in guests late at night?
Most hotels have staff working different shifts to check guests in and out at all hours of the day.
Smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts may have stricter rules for check-in because they do not have staff around the clock to check guests in.
Will I lose my reservation if I check-in late?
Your reservation is a guarantee that your booked room will be reserved when you arrive, regardless of your arrival time. However, there may be times when the hotel is overbooked and assigns rooms with late check-in to other guests causing you to lose your booking or get a different room.
To avoid losing your reservation or the specific room you booked, call the hotel prior to your arrival to inform them of your late arrival. If the hotel gives away your reservation, they will “walk” you to a nearby hotel, find your accommodations and even give you a hotel voucher.
If you decide not to stay at the hotel and book another hotel group, contact the front desk and ask for a refund. If you do not know how to start the conversation, read these steps to learn how to ask a hotel for a refund from the front desk staff and get the compensation you deserve for the oversight caused by the hotel.
Common Questions About Hotel Check-In
What is the most common check-in time in the U.S.?
The most common check-in time for a hotel is 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
However, check-in times vary from hotel to hotel, Airbnb to apartment rental, so paying attention to check-in time when making your reservation is important.
Are check-in times important?
For guests: check-in time is important if you’re going to come after the usual check-in time (2:00 – 4:00 PM) since there’s a chance that your room get handed over to another guest. Make sure to call the hotel if you’re going to be late.
For hotels: check-in time is important for hotels to decide on measures to take during emergencies or specific situations. For example during COVID-19 outbreak, check-in time could be used to decide which guests to quarantine and which guests to release.
Do I need to check-in online for my hotel?
Regular hotels have hotel staff in the lobby to check you in and give you directions to your room. In contrast, there are hotels, inns, and rental properties that have a code to access the rooms, so you do not have to check-in because you will not get a code without a paid reservation.
What documents do I need to check-in at my hotel?
You will need a government issued ID card or passport for identification and a credit or debit card if you have not yet completed the transaction and to charge the deposit. In addition, some hotels require that all guests present identification at the front desk.
Some hotels have an age requirement for guests booking a room. The age ranges from over 18 to 21 years old.
Why do I have to pay a security deposit when I check-in?
A deposit guarantees the hotel that you are responsible for the use of the room and will return it to the hotel as it was. In addition, the hotel may charge your credit card after check-out if items are broken or for other reasons listed in the booking policy.
If the hotel determines that the room was in poor condition or items were broken after you checked out, the hotel may charge your card after you checked out to compensate for the losses.
What is a 24-hour check-in hotel?
A 24-hour hotel is one that would receive check-in at any time and give you a room for the next 24 hours after you checked-in. There is no specific check-in or check-out time.
When does check-in begin?
Check-in begins at the hour indicated on your reservation, not the date. Example: If you check-in at 2 PM on Tuesday, you will have access to your room at 2 PM, not one hour before.
The most common check-in time in the US is 3 PM, but there are ways to check in earlier.
Why do some hotels have flexible check-in and others don’t?
Some hotels have around-the-clock staff checking in guests at all day hours. While small inns, guesthouses, house rentals, and Airbnb use a code system or stay in touch, the front desk staff informs of their late arrivals.
Now that you