You’ve just landed at your vacation destination or finished a long work trip, and you’re ready to relax in your hotel room. But what if your room isn’t ready yet? Is there any way to check in early at a hotel before the official check-in time?

The short answer is maybe. While early check-in is not guaranteed, you can request it and increase your chances by planning ahead. Read on for a full guide on early hotel check-in policies, fees, tips for success, and what to do if early check-in is unavailable.

Typical Hotel Check-In/Check-Out Times

When planning a trip, it’s important to be aware of the typical check-in and check-out times at hotels. Understanding these timings can help you better plan your travel itinerary and avoid any unnecessary inconveniences. Here is a breakdown of the standard hotel check-in and check-out times:

– Standard hotel check-in time is 3-4 PM

Most hotels have a standard check-in time in the afternoon, usually around 3-4 PM. This allows the housekeeping staff enough time to clean and prepare the rooms for new guests. It’s important to note that this time may vary slightly from hotel to hotel, so it’s always a good idea to check with the specific hotel you’ll be staying at.

– Check-out time is usually 11 AM-12 PM

Check-out time is typically in the late morning, usually around 11 AM to 12 PM. This gives guests enough time to pack up their belongings and vacate the room so that it can be prepared for the next guest.

It’s worth mentioning that some hotels may charge an additional fee for late check-outs, so it’s best to adhere to the designated check-out time to avoid any extra costs.

– Early check-in may be as early as 8 AM-12 PM

While the standard check-in time is in the afternoon, some hotels may offer the option of early check-in. Early check-in allows guests to access their rooms before the designated check-in time. The availability of early check-in varies from hotel to hotel and is often subject to room availability.

If you’re planning to arrive early, it’s a good idea to contact the hotel in advance to inquire about the possibility of early check-in.

It’s important to note that early check-in may come with an additional fee, especially if you wish to check-in significantly earlier than the standard check-in time. However, some hotels may offer early check-in free of charge if the room is available.

It’s always worth asking the hotel about their policies and any associated costs or exceptions.

Requesting Early Check-In at a Hotel

When you have an early arrival and want to check in to your hotel before the standard check-in time, there are a few steps you can take to request early check-in.

Contact the hotel in advance to request early check-in

If you know in advance that you will be arriving early, it is best to contact the hotel directly to request early check-in. Most hotels have a front desk or reservations department that you can reach out to.

Be polite and explain your situation, mentioning your arrival time and the reason for your early check-in request. It is important to note that not all hotels will be able to accommodate early check-ins, especially during busy periods.

Be flexible – early check-in is based on availability

Hotels often have limited availability for early check-ins, as they need time to clean and prepare rooms for incoming guests. It is important to be flexible with your expectations and understand that early check-in is not guaranteed.

If the hotel is unable to accommodate your request, they may offer to hold your luggage until your room becomes available.

An early check-in fee may apply

Some hotels offer the option of paying an additional fee for early check-in. This fee is often charged because the hotel needs to expedite the cleaning process or rearrange their schedule to accommodate your request.

If you are willing to pay the fee, it increases the chances of securing an early check-in. However, not all hotels provide this option, so it is best to inquire about it when contacting the hotel.

Your room type may change if the original isn’t ready

In some cases, if the room type you originally booked is not ready for early check-in, the hotel may offer you an alternative room type. This could be a similar room with a different view or a room with different amenities.

If you have specific preferences for your room, it is advisable to communicate them clearly to the hotel when making your early check-in request.

Remember, early check-in is subject to availability and the policies of the hotel. It is always a good idea to contact the hotel in advance to request early check-in and understand their specific policies and procedures.

Tips for Increasing Your Chances of Early Check-In

Book direct with the hotel vs. third-party site

When it comes to securing an early check-in at a hotel, booking directly with the hotel can give you a better chance. Third-party booking sites often have limited control over room availability and may not have access to up-to-date information.

By booking directly with the hotel, you can communicate your preferences and requests directly, increasing the likelihood of getting an early check-in.

Join the hotel’s loyalty program

Joining the hotel’s loyalty program can provide you with additional perks and benefits, including priority for early check-in. Hotels often prioritize loyal customers and offer them early check-in as a way to show appreciation for their continued support.

By becoming a member of the loyalty program, you can increase your chances of being accommodated for an early check-in.

Check in late morning/early afternoon

Timing can play a crucial role in securing an early check-in. Arriving at the hotel during off-peak hours, such as late morning or early afternoon, increases your chances of getting a room ready before the official check-in time.

This is because housekeeping has more time to prepare rooms that have been vacated by previous guests. So, if you’re looking to check in early, plan your arrival during these quieter periods.

Don’t request a specific room

While it’s tempting to request a specific room when making your reservation, doing so may reduce your chances of an early check-in. This is because hotel staff may need to wait for a specific room to become available, which could delay the check-in process.

Instead, be open to any available room, which gives the hotel more flexibility in accommodating your early check-in request.

Be polite when making the request

When making your request for an early check-in, remember to be polite and understanding. Hotel staff are more likely to go out of their way to accommodate your request if you approach the situation with kindness and respect.

Remember, they are doing their best to make your stay enjoyable, so a friendly attitude can go a long way in increasing your chances of an early check-in.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of securing an early check-in at a hotel. Remember to book directly, join the hotel’s loyalty program, time your arrival strategically, be flexible with room preferences, and always approach the hotel staff with politeness and gratitude.

With a little planning and a positive attitude, you’ll be on your way to enjoying your accommodation sooner than you expected!

What to Do If Early Check-In Unavailable

– Ask to store luggage until room is ready

If you arrive at a hotel before the official check-in time and your room is not yet available, don’t worry! Most hotels will be happy to store your luggage securely so you can start exploring the area or relax in the hotel’s common areas.

Simply approach the front desk and ask if they can hold your bags for you. This way, you can feel free to roam around without being burdened by your luggage.

– Request a text/call when room is ready

To make the most of your time while waiting for your room to be ready, ask the hotel staff if they can notify you when your room is available. Many hotels offer this service, allowing you to explore nearby attractions or grab a bite to eat while you wait.

This way, you won’t have to constantly check back at the front desk or waste time waiting in the lobby.

– Enjoy hotel amenities while waiting

While waiting for your room to be ready, take advantage of the hotel’s amenities. Most hotels have a variety of facilities such as a pool, spa, gym, or lounge area. You can relax by the pool, get a workout in, or simply unwind in the comfort of the hotel’s common areas.

Some hotels even offer complimentary refreshments or snacks, so you can treat yourself while you wait.

– Consider booking a room for the night before

If you absolutely need to check in early and can’t wait, consider booking a room for the night before. While this may incur an extra cost, it guarantees you early access to your room without any wait. This option is especially useful if you have a tight schedule or if you’re arriving on a red-eye flight and need a place to rest immediately.

Remember, each hotel has its own policies regarding early check-ins, so it’s always best to check with the specific hotel you plan to stay at. Some hotels may be more flexible and accommodating, while others may have limited availability for early check-ins.

By being prepared and understanding your options, you can make the most of your hotel stay, even if early check-in is not available.

Other Accommodation Options for Early Arrival

Arriving early at a hotel can be a common occurrence for travelers, especially those who have taken a red-eye flight or have arrived at their destination ahead of schedule. While most hotels have a standard check-in time in the afternoon, there are several alternative accommodation options that can provide a solution for those looking to check in early.

– Rent an Airbnb for the first night

If you are looking for flexibility and want to have more control over your check-in time, renting an Airbnb for the first night of your stay can be a great option. Airbnb offers a wide range of properties that often have more flexible check-in times compared to hotels.

Additionally, hosts are usually more accommodating when it comes to early arrivals, allowing you to check in at a time that suits your travel schedule.

– Book a hotel with 24-hour check-in

Another option to consider is booking a hotel that offers 24-hour check-in. These hotels understand that travelers may arrive at any time of day or night, and they are equipped to handle early check-ins.

By choosing a hotel with 24-hour check-in, you can have peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to wait for hours in the lobby before being able to access your room. Some popular hotel chains, such as Hilton and Marriott, offer this convenience at many of their locations.

– Stay at an airport hotel and take a shuttle

If you have an early morning flight and need a place to stay the night before, staying at an airport hotel can be a convenient option. Many airport hotels offer complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport, making it easy to get to your accommodation quickly.

These hotels often have early check-in options, allowing you to rest and freshen up before your flight without any hassle. Additionally, staying at an airport hotel can save you time and stress, especially if you have an early morning departure.

When it comes to checking in early at a hotel, it’s important to plan ahead and explore alternative accommodation options. Whether you choose to rent an Airbnb, book a hotel with 24-hour check-in, or stay at an airport hotel, there are plenty of ways to ensure a smooth and comfortable start to your trip.


While early check-in is never guaranteed at hotels, you can greatly boost your chances by planning ahead, being flexible, and politely asking the front desk. If early check-in is unavailable, explore options like storing luggage, enjoying the hotel’s amenities, or booking elsewhere just for the first night.

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