How late can you check into a hotel? The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as you might expect. For example, large hotels have the staff to accommodate guests who arrive in the wee hours of the morning, whereas boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts may not. While the standard check-in time at most hotels is 3:00 p.m., most hotels will work with you if you find you have to check in later than the standard window. You may even find that there are several advantages to arriving later in the day.
It’s important to note that even though you check in later than normal, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get a later checkout than normal, too. Hotels need to be able to get your room ready for the next guest, so they need you to leave on time for the housekeeping staff to do their work.
Advantages of Late Arrival at a Hotel vs. Early Check In
1. Added Flexibility
Checking in later at your hotel gives you a great deal more flexibility in your travel itinerary. Most standard check-in times are in the mid-afternoon, causing you to lose part of the day’s activities traveling to your hotel. When you check in during the evening hours, you have a full day to hike, sightsee, shop, or simply casually arrive (rather than rush) to your hotel.
2. Avoiding Penalties
Checking later can also save you money. Most hotels charge penalties if you make a reservation and don’t check in at a set time, often by 6:00 p.m. This fee can be expensive – usually at least the cost of one night’s lodging. By calling ahead and letting the hotel know that you’ll be arriving later, you’ll avoid the possibility of a ‘no-show’ charge or even losing your room entirely should they give it away.
3. Faster Check-In Process
Another benefit of checking in later than the normal hour is that the front desk will likely be less crowded, and you’ll likely have a shorter (or no) wait to talk with a desk agent. This is especially true of big hotels that cater to groups and conventions. It’s not unheard of to wait in line for 30 minutes or more at the front desk at such hotels during peak check-in hours. Arriving late means you can get into your room more quickly and relax rather than wasting time waiting in line.
Advising your hotel that you are likely to arrive late can also save you a lot of anxiety and worry as you make your way to your hotel. Flights can be delayed, and highways can be clogged, making your easy journey to your destination become something of a nightmare. With a late check-in, you not only save the hassle of crowds at check-in but also save the worry that your room will be gone when you arrive.
5. Lower Rates
It’s also possible that by checking in late, you’ll be able to get a lower room rate. Many hotels offer a limited number of rooms at a deep discount rate. When those rooms are booked, the rates go up. By checking in late, you might just be in the right place at the right time if someone who has reserved one of the cheaper rooms has canceled or failed to arrive. It’s always a good idea to ask at the front desk, ‘Do I have the lowest room rate available?”
Different Late-Check Ins
Of course, different types of hotels have varying policies and capacities regarding late arrival. Some hotels may have set-ups that make later check-ins more difficult for them to accommodate. For example:
With smaller boutique hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts, late check-in may be a logistical problem for the staff to accommodate, due to other required duties after check-in including housekeeping, answering correspondence and booking requests, and preparing and serving an evening meal. As a result, these hotels may have a narrow window for check-ins.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t check in late for your hotel room in a smaller hotel; rather, you should plan to give the hotel adequate notice of your intentions so someone will be available when you arrive at the property.
Medium-sized hotels, usually classified as those with 100-300 rooms, may lack the round-the-clock staff that most large hotels have. This could mean that there is someone at the front desk until midnight, but it’s unmanned between midnight and 6:00 a.m. It could also mean that while there is a person ‘on duty’ in the evening or at night, they may have other responsibilities and be away from the front desk when you arrive late. You may have to use an intercom system to alert the person on duty of your presence.
Late check-in is generally easily accommodated at large hotels or hotel chains. Large hotels, those with more than 300 rooms, include properties like Marriott Hotels, Hyatt Regency, Ritz Carlton, and Hilton. These hotels usually have front desks that are staffed 24 hours a day. The primary concern with larger hotels is that they may sell your room to someone else if you arrive late and haven’t alerted them to your late arrival. Communication is key – most large hotels will hold your room all night if they know you are on your way.
Earning an MBA in Hospitality at Johnson & Wales University
Johnson & Wales University (JWU) offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees designed especially for the hospitality industry, including the MBA in Hospitality. This two-year degree program is offered at JWU’s Providence, RI campus or online. Online learning gives students the flexibility to ‘attend’ classes and complete coursework according to their schedules, which is of great benefit for those with professional and personal commitments. Coursework includes:
- Event Leadership and Planning
- Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Law
- Hospitality and Tourism Global Issues
- Franchising and Licensing
JWU’s career placement center is available to students and offers a variety of professional services, such as resume help, interview coaching, and networking opportunities.
Online learning is slightly less expensive than in-person classes, and students save on commuting expenses and parking.
About Johnson & Wales University
Johnson & Wales University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in more than 80 fields of study. Founded in 1914, JWU has a current enrollment of around 8,000 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students, including online students. The university is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Financial aid is available for qualified students.