how late to book and checking into a hotel
Checking into a hotel after midnight – yes it’s possible – Canva

Flights and long bus drives are often scheduled at the strangest hours. Sometimes, you don’t know that you’ll need to stop over or that you’re going to arrive in the middle of the night. So, how late can you book and check into a hotel?

Each establishment has a unique policy but you can book and check into a hotel at any time of the night. However, you’ll have a better chance of getting a room if you book it in person.

Whether or not you can check into a hotel after-hours depends on a few factors. If you didn’t plan ahead, keep reading to find all of the information about booking a hotel late at night.

How Late Can You Book & Check Into A Hotel

Are you a spontaneous traveler? Or did something unexpected come up and you didn’t have time to book accommodation? There can be various reasons why you would want to check into a hotel at 11 PM or 3 AM

The good news is that you won’t have to settle for a park bench. There are always a few hotels that’ll have shelter for you at any time of the night.

Most hotels have someone working the front desk 24/7. The person that you will be dealing with after 10 p.m. is called the night auditor. They handle all bookings, complaints, and problems that arise during the night shift.

If you choose a hotel with a night auditor, the chances are good that you’ll be able to book and check-in after midnight. Furthermore, some large chain hotels have digital machines or an online platform that you can use to check-in.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case at smaller establishments. Smaller hotels, like boutique hotels, can’t keep their front desks open after 8 PM. If there is no night staff, you won’t be able to book a room.

The best idea would be to read up on the specific hotel online or call the front desk to get information on their booking policy.

Check out this article if you would like some more information: checking into a hotel after midnight.

Is It Better to Book Online or Walk-In for Late Night Booking?

If you find that you need to book a room late at night there are two ways of going about this.

1. Present yourself at reception and request a room

This option has the advantage of conducting your business face to face with a receptionist who may be in a position of offering a better deal on the room rate. You should also use this opportunity to ask for a room on the best floors in a hotel.

However, if you simply walk-in you might find the hotel has no available room left. To avoid that situation, you can always check online first if they still have rooms available. This way you’re not wasting time trying to check in to a fully booked hotel.

2. Make an online reservation through the hotel’s website or on a third-party booking platform.

The advantage of this option is that you can make the booking en route. For example, at the airport or in a taxi. However, an important point to remember if reserving online is that the platforms operate on calendar days which expire at midnight

For example, you might find yourself late on the 15th of March looking for a room. The only option now available is the 16th which you surmise starts at midnight, which is the time you need a bed. But, as we have seen, check-in can only be made after 3 PM, in this case, on the 16th. This is because the platform (like Booking.com or Expedia) will only show rooms available for the current day.

If you have no luck finding a room at booking.com, these 10 booking.com alternatives might help you.

Do Hotels Get Cheaper Late At Night?

The short answer is yes, hotels do get cheaper late at night.

Booking at any time from 15 days before to right before you check in could get you some savings. It is also believed that booking and checking in at any time from 4 p.m. could be very beneficial.

Unlike booking a flight, hotel rates drop the closer you get to your booked date. As soon as the hotel realizes that they won’t be filling all of their rooms, they bring out the bargains.

You may be lucky enough to hit gold when you find a hotel that offers late-night promotions. There are some establishments and booking platforms that offer a massive discount if you book a room after a certain time. You could end up paying less than 30% of the regular cost.

This is because many clients cancel their bookings at the last minute and the rooms are empty. They would rather offer their rooms at a lower price to cover their costs than to get nothing at all and run at a loss.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any discounts online or in advertisements. Hotels don’t make this public knowledge, because then everyone will start waiting until the last minute to book.

If they don’t offer you a discount if you book late, there could be a valid reason. In-season rates will almost always apply, no matter what time you book. They also won’t sell out rooms at a lower rate if there is an event or festival nearby.

What should you do if you are late for checking in?

If it becomes apparent that you are going to be late for check-in, don’t worry. Just remember to contact the hotel by phone or email indicating your new proposed time of arrival. The hotel should still keep your reserved room. 

If, however, upon arrival you find that they have given away your room, the hotel should offer you another. If they are full, then they should arrange with a neighboring hotel to accommodate you.

Is It Worth Booking A Hotel Last Minute?

Research shows that hotel prices decrease the closer you get to your travel date. Generally speaking, the reason for this boils down to supply and demand. A hotel will often offer last minute deals if it has a significant number of rooms still available. On the other hand, if the hotel is almost full then this will result in inflated prices.

Statistically,  comparing bookings made 4 months in advance and ones made 15 days in advance showed that the late bookings end up being on average 13% cheaper.

One option to grab a bargain if you are happy to take a chance and are flexible about your dates: use a booking platform to look for hotels with a free cancelation policy and as your intended travel date approaches check the price again, if it has reduced then cancel and re-book.

Again, it is worthwhile to ring a hotel directly, ask to speak to the reservations manager and see if you can negotiate a last-minute deal yourself.

Bottom line: if you’re going to book a hotel last minute aiming for a discount, make sure to be prepared if things don’t go as planned. If you find the deal, great! If you don’t, take whatever you can get and move on.

Does a late check-in mean a late check-out?

As explained earlier, the reason for a set time for check-out is to facilitate housekeeping, but there are some incidences when a late check-in can lead to a late check-out. For example, you could indicate on arriving late that you are running a full schedule and an extra hour’s rest in the morning would be very helpful. In this instance, reception could ask housekeeping to push the cleaning of your room back to the end of their schedule.

Remember, it is important not to overstep the extra time added as it could lead to you being charged a penalty at best or, at worst, a full extra night.

Had you have more time to plan your stay, be sure to check our article about the best day to book a hotel room to get the maximum value for your money.

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