Hotel Early check in
A family checking in early – monkey business (canva)

Hotel stays are an essential aspect of traveling, and depending on your arrival, you may need to check into your hotel earlier than expected. Some hotels, Airbnbs, or traditional B&Bs might have a policy preventing early check-in, while for some, it wouldn’t be an issue. Find out exactly how to ask your hotel for an early check-in and help your vacation to go smoothly.

To get the best chance to get an early check-in with your hotel, be sure to contact the hotel and ask ahead of time. The farther in advance, the better. You can ask your hotel by email or by calling them. If you choose to call them, it’s more likely they will complete your request. 

Find out exactly what method works for you when it comes to asking your hotel for early check-in, and learn some valuable tips to make traveling a breeze. 

1. Email The Hotel

One of the most common ways to ask your hotel for an early check-in is to email them. Simply locate the email address for your hotel, which can usually be found under the contact section. Draft an email explaining your situation and kindly ask the hotel for an early check-in. You can use these email samples to draft yours. 

Keep in mind that the earlier you ask the hotel, the more likely it will be that they can allow you early check-in. Asking early on in the booking process allows the staff ample time to prepare the room and have it cleaned and ready for you when you arrive. 

Sometimes they will be unable to allow your request due to the room being booked the night before. Mentioning that you are ok with a downgrade or paying for an upgrade might help them find a room that was unoccupied and is ready for you when you arrive.

Note: there are ways to get yourself a free upgrade, here are 9 proven ways to get it.

2. Request an Early Check-in When Booking

Before clicking the book button, see if there is a section to ask for special requests. In the box, politely ask for an early check-in like you would in an email. If the hotel doesn’t have the option to ask for special requests, you can email them before booking to see if they can accommodate you. 

3. Call The Hotel

Calling the hotel is the best option to get an early check-in. You are adding a more personal touch by calling the hotel and explaining your need for an early check-in. You can connect better with the receptionist at the hotel and hopefully get the desired result. 

Keep in mind if you decide to call that, it’s still important to call as far in advance as possible to allow the staff time to accommodate your request.

3. Ask in Person

Asking in person should be a last resort tactic as this doesn’t allow the staff much time to accommodate your request. If you didn’t think to ask for early check-in and you happen to arrive at the hotel early, it doesn’t hurt to ask anyways. If they can’t accommodate you, they may allow you to store your luggage as you explore the city or use the pool or garden area while you wait. 

4. Use Elite Status

If you frequent certain hotel chains often, like Mariott or Hyatt, you can get an elite status that comes with VIP treatment for every stay. Some elite status programs allow free or paid early check-in, and sometimes it’s based on availability.

High-standing elite members are a priority when it comes to getting an early check-in, and most hotels will try and accommodate the best they can. If you’re a frequent traveler and you haven’t looked into getting elite status, now is the time! 

We’ve compiled the 9 best hotel loyalty programs that provide you with tons of benefits including early check in. Check them out!

5. Book From an Affiliate Hotel

Sometimes with credit cards or points cards, you will receive discounts or perks at certain hotel chains. Because of your credit card affiliation, these chains will likely allow you an early check-in. 

Check to see if any of your affiliate hotels offer early check-in. When you select a room to book, make a special request asking for early check-in and state your credit card affiliation. 

6. Consider a More Flexible Hotel

Some hotels, usually ones that are closer to airports, will have a flexible check-in policy, no check-in policy, or hourly rate. These hotels are great for long layovers where you might need to check in early or leave earlier in the morning to catch a flight. Look for properties that offer something called Standard Time, where you can choose your check-in and check-out times. 

Tips For Early Check-in

Be Kind

Being kind when asking for early check-in, either online or in person, can go a long way. When dealing with hotel staff, it’s important to be as kind as possible; this ensures they see you as a kind, respectful, and valued guest, and you are more likely to get what you are asking for. 

Think Ahead

Planning ahead and reading hotel policies can save you a lot of time and effort when searching for that early check-in. Knowing which hotels will not offer early check-in and which hotels are flexible is key. 

Now that you know how to get an early check in, here’s the other end of the spectrum should you need it: 10 proven tips to ask for a late check out.

On another note, do you know that early check-in and late checkout are not the only special requests you can ask? Here are the other 20 free requests you can ask from your hotel.


How early is early check-in at hotels?

Early check-in is usually between 1 pm and 3 pm on the day you check-in. This allows the previous guest to check out and cleaners to thoroughly clean the room before it’s ready to be used again. Some hotels may be able to accommodate an earlier check-in if the room was not being used the previous night. 

How strict is a hotel check-in time?

Most hotels have a strict after 3 pm check-in time for arriving guests. This allows time for the cleaners to clean every room after the previous guests check out. Some hotels may have more relaxed policies than others. It’s always a good idea to read the policy page of your hotel before you book.

Do hotels charge for early check-in?

Most hotels can accommodate an early check-in for free, but it’s good not to expect the accommodation right away. Some hotels will charge a fee for early check-in, so it’s good to understand before calling or emailing to ask.

Now that you know how to secure an early check-in, what if you’re already checked in but are having a bad experience that you prefer to cancel? Our article on how to ask for a refund can tell you the ins and outs of this delicate situation.

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