Trip Planning - 11 min read

How Late Can You Check Into A Hotel? (With A Reservation)

Betty Nelson

Betty Nelson, Updated October 8, 2022

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Vacations are the best time to unwind and take a break from our tight schedules. But, as exciting as it looks, it involves a lot of planning and funding, and one of the most crucial parts is booking a hotel reservation. If you encounter a hitch, you either arrive late or cancel your reservation. So how late can you check into a hotel?

Check-in times vary from hotel to hotel, but the average is between 3 pm and 6 pm. Small-sized or independent hotels allow guests to check in as late as 10 pm till midnight. However, most chain hotels operate on a 24-hour policy. This way, you can quickly check into a hotel room anytime, especially if you have made a reservation. 

However, some hotels have a specific time by which guests must check-in, such as 8 pm. If you arrive late at your hotel reservation, you might find the lobby empty without anyone to attend to you. So, to be safe, ensure you call the front desk and inform them before you check-in. That way, they can either make reservations for you or decide when to let you in.

When Does Late Check-In Become Early Check-In?

If you check in between 1 pm to 3 pm, it is considered an early check-in. This is one of the newest services most hotels offer to help visitors who arrive early to easily check-in.

An early check-in is an option for guests who arrive on time to check into their hotel rooms before the standard check-in time. When guests arrive at an early morning flight, they could either be tired or worn out.

Other times, they might need to pack their luggage into the hotel before heading out for the day. This is where early check-in becomes necessary. 

What is Considered a Late Check-In at a Hotel? 

Late check-in at a hotel is usually from 10 pm till midnight. No doubt, the check-in policy of hotels is quite different from another, and it will be in your best interest to get enough information on them. 

Anytime you experience an arrival delay, you should call the hotel and tell them why. This way, they will most likely prepare the room for your arrival. 

Related Read: Do You Have To Check Out of A Hotel?

Late Check-In Policy By Hotel Type

As anyone who has tried to book a hotel room knows, there are many different types of hotels, each with its policies. One important policy that can vary widely from hotel to hotel is the late check-in policy.

Here is a brief overview of the late check-in policies at some of the most popular types of hotels.

Inn

Inns are the smallest of the different types of hotels. They are both portable and provide comfort to guests. Unlike chain hotels with varying amenities, inns are not usually sparsely furnished. 

However, they provide shelter and comfort to visitors. If you check into an inn, you experience a relaxing, homely experience. Most times, they are owned by families and built to accommodate a limited number of visitors.

If you intend to lodge at an inn, it is always best to check in on time, possibly before dawn. If you might arrive late, you must inform the inn owners of your late arrival. 

Motel

The name motels is a combination of the two words, mobile and hotel. As the name implies, it was primarily built for travelers or people on road trips looking for shelter and accommodation.

Most people who check in to motels only lodge for a few days. A motel is usually built along a major road or somewhere close to a highway. It may not be as luxurious as a hotel, but it contains the necessities for comfort. 

They tend to entertain visitors till late at night, designed for late-night travelers and late-night visitors. So, if you wish to lodge in a motel, you are free to check in at any time unless stated otherwise. 

Related Read: Can You Live In A Hotel?

Hostel

Hostels are small-sized lodging apartments designed for low-budget users and travelers. They may not contain a lot of rooms, so you are likely to share the room and the toilet facilities with fellow lodge mates.

If you love privacy, checking into a hostel might not be the best option. However, a hostel might be the best option if you intend to take some time off work, meet new faces, and interact with people.

While interacting with people, ensure you know the strangers you meet and your environment. There are several hostels in major cities in the US, and since they take a lot of visitors per night, most hostels employ strict security measures to safeguard their visitors. Therefore, they will likely not allow late check-in. 

Destination Resort

Destination resorts are usually found in destinations such as Mexico and Jamaica. It is a form of a resort that offers a great vacation experience to visitors. If you want an excellent vacation time away from the usual bustle of the city, a destination resort is your best choice. 

It contains lots of relaxation spots, bars, and pools to help you make the best of your vacation experience. Although some destination resorts accept late check-in, others don’t. The best way is to call the resort you intend to lodge in and get the details of their check-in hours.

Here, guests who rent these rooms must adhere to the renter’s check-in rules and policies. As a result, one’s experience varies according to the renter’s treatment. 

Related Read: Can You Check Out of a Hotel Early?

Airbnb/VRBO Properties 

Airbnb/VRBO are mobile apps that allow guests to secure temporary lodging. Also, homeowners who desire to rent out their homes can do that using any of these apps. 

In order to improve customers’ experience, there is an option for guests to rate their experiences with the renter as this helps to secure opportunities in the future. 

Chain Hotels

Chain hotels usually refer to a group of hotels operated by one owner. It could be any number, 3,6,12, etc. Chain hotels are luxurious hotels equipped with modern facilities to provide you with the needed comfort.

It is designed with large-spaced rooms and toilet facilities, and one guest is entitled to at least a space. Most chain hotels have a 24 hours operation policy that allows guests to book a room reservation and check in at any hour of the day. 

Related Read: Can You Pay Cash For Hotels?

What Should You Do if You Need a Last-Minute Hotel Late at Night?

Below are some tips to help you secure last-minute accommodation in a hotel at night:

  • Get in touch with the hotel. The first step is to inform the hotel about your situation and the need for a hotel room. This way, they are well informed and can assist you where necessary
  • Ask for available rooms. Knowing whether there is an available room you can lodge is essential. A hotel attendant or staff will be in the best position to give you the proper feedback.
  • Book a room. If unsold rooms are available for guests, you can request access to them at a reasonable rate. It is up to you to pay either with cash or your credit card. 

What Happens if You Check In Late at a Hotel?

If you have made payments for a hotel reservation, the hotel will likely keep your room ready for your arrival. However, if you fail to make payments for the reservation, they will assume you are no longer interested and sell off your reservation to another visitor. 

Since most hotels have a check-in time, they tend to let visitors know about their policies. This does not exclude the fact that while others may give out your room on account of late arrival, others might not. 

Some hotels have a 24-hour policy that allows anyone to come in, make a reservation, and access a room at night. These kinds of hotels will not give out your room on account of a late-night check-in. However, if you fail to show up till 7:00 am the following morning, they are free to give out your room.

In a situation where you missed checking into your room on the first night of your reservation, the hotel will keep it for you. However, you are expected to have paid for the reservation in advance.

If you are likely to arrive late for check-in, ensure you call the hotel attendants and let them know about the situation. In most cases, it could be an emergency, a delayed fight, or a train breakdown.  

Can You Check into a Hotel at Any Time?

As far as you have made your reservations at the hotel, you can check into the hotel at any time you wish. Yes, you are expected to be right in time for your check-in, but the hotel will likely accommodate you if you are not. The most crucial part is that you check in and confirm your arrival. 

No doubt, all hotels, no matter the size, have early and late check-in times policies. However, while others might be tolerant enough to accommodate late-night check-in, others might not.

Most of them allow guests to check in between 3 and 4 pm. Once you have made a hotel reservation, the attendants will let you know the hotel’s policy and the right time to check-in.

If they fail to inform you, feel free to contact the attendant or staff and request a check-in time. Also, the receptionist is in the position to adjust your check-in time to a later date. However, it is advisable to avoid checking in too early as most hotels may not tolerate that. 

Can You Check into a Hotel After Midnight?

Yes, some hotels show flexibility in their lodging policy and allow late-night check-in by midnight. So although the usual check-in time is between 3 pm to 4 pm, however, you can extend it to as late as 10 pm. 

This flexible schedule is not found in all hotels, so the best method is to ask questions about the check-in time of any hotel you intend to lodge. In addition, making reservations in advance helps save you from many inconveniences.

If you arrive at a hotel where you have already paid for a reservation after midnight, you can check in anytime.

What is the Latest You Can Check into a Hotel?

You can check into a hotel at 10 pm latest. This policy varies from hotel to hotel. Chain or large-sized hotels usually have a 24-hour operational policy. However, their staff works on rotation schemes to ensure you are attended to at any time. 

Other small-scale or independent hotels do not operate late at night. Instead, they close anytime from 10 pm. Therefore, if you made a hotel reservation in a small-sized hotel, you should endeavor to check in on or before 10 pm. 

There won’t be hotel staff in the lobby if you arrive late. Unfortunately, this means no one will check you in. 

Can You Check into a Hotel at 3 AM?

Perhaps due to unforeseen delays, you might arrive at the hotel at 3 am; there is no guarantee that you will check-in. In addition, you may not be entitled to check in until the scheduled time.

For example, a hotel has the right to prevent you from checking into a hotel room by 3:00 am. However, you may gain entrance to a hotel from around 9 am due to your early arrival.

What Time is Check-In Time at Most Hotels?

At most hotels, the standard check-in time is 3:00 pm. However, this largely depends on the hotel check-in policy. If your hotel room is ready by arrival, the hotel staff will likely let you into the room before check-in time. But if otherwise, you must wait until it’s prepared or by 3:00 pm.

Therefore, once you have made a reservation, ensure you get details on your check-in time. For example, although it is set at 3:00 pm, it does not mean you must check in by 3:00 pm on the dot.

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