Vacation plans don’t always go exactly according to schedule.
You can try your best to arrange hotel accommodations, but plans can get pushed back to the point where you may wonder if the hotel still saved your reservation.
After all, if you don’t arrive, they lose money on an empty room if they don’t rent it out eventually.
Of course, there also has to be a leeway period.
What happens if you need shelter in the middle of the night when most hotel offices are closed?
We cover how late you can check into a hotel.
How Late Can You Check Into A Hotel?
Most large hotel chains allow visitors to get a room 24 hours a day.
However, small independent hotels that don’t affiliate with any chain will usually close their lobby between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.
Without anyone in the lobby to check you in, you will be out of luck.
The standard check-in time for most hotels is 3:00 p.m.
You can check in after 3:00 p.m. without much trouble in most situations.
Now, if you won’t be checking in until 4:30 a.m., that may be different.
Always call in to make the staff aware of your plans if you will be checking in late into the evening.
Early Check-In And Late Check-Out
In order to leave time to clean rooms and prepare them for new guests, most hotels have rooms empty between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
However, hotels understand that your plans may not fit perfectly into the hotel policy.
Instead of punishing you for a discrepancy of a couple of hours, many hotels offer leniency regarding the check-in and check-out times if you let them know in advance.
Most hotels start to allow guests to check in at 3:00 p.m.
However, you may be able to arrange to check in to the hotel as early as 11:00 a.m. at some hotels.
(The earliest we found was 7:00 a.m.)
Of course, you will need to communicate with the hotel about your plans so that they have the room ready on time.
In some cases, you may need to pay more for the ability to check in early.
What if you got in late and want to sleep a bit later?
You may be able to request a late check-out.
Instead of checking out at 11:00 a.m. as normal, some hotels allow you to check out a bit later, such as 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m.
You need to be especially careful if you check out late.
If you don’t properly communicate with the hotel, you may get charged for an additional night.
Hotels typically don’t offer leniency when it comes to early check-in and late check-out times.
Different Types Of Hotels
The type of hotel you visit may play a large role in the rules and regulations.
1. Chain Hotels
When you think of a hotel, you probably think of a chain hotel.
They vary when it comes to amenities and price, but they are usually large buildings that can accommodate a lot of people.
You’ll mostly find them in major cities, suburbs, and points of interest.
Different hotel chains offer unique experiences.
For example, some are designed as business hotels and come with high-end business centers and conference rooms.
Chain hotels tend to offer reasonable options when it comes to late check-ins.
However, since the rooms cost so much, they will be quick to fill unused rooms, too.
Motels get their name by combining “mobile” and “hotel.”
These hotels are designed for people who need a place to sleep while on a road trip.
Most motels are located just off of a highway or major road.
They usually only have the basic amenities, and you can access your room from outside.
Some of the common motel chains include Motel 6, Super 8, and Econo Lodge.
Motels make it easy to check in at any time you want since they are designed with late-night travelers in mind.
Inns offer a cozy, homey feel.
They are usually much smaller than standard hotels and motels, giving light to the phrase, “No more room at the inn.”
Usually family-owned and not part of a chain, you will struggle to check in at inns late at night unless you manage to contact the owner after hours.
However, if you do get to check in, you’ll have a great experience.
Some inns are considered bed and breakfasts, which have a greater element of comfort and coziness than a standard inn.
4. Destination Resort
A destination resort is a resort in destination locations, such as Jamaica or Cancún, Mexico.
Destination resorts go out of their way to make a great vacation experience by having high-quality bars and pools.
Some people don’t even leave the resort during their stay since they have everything they need right there.
Most destination resorts provide a package that includes food and drink for the duration of your stay.
If planning to celebrate during your stay, the large price can actually save you a lot of money compared to buying drinks separately.
Destination resorts may not have many vacancies, especially during prime vacation season.
However, if they do have rooms available last minute, you may be able to get a deal.
Hostels are inexpensive lodging designed for travelers on a budget.
They usually include numerous beds in several rooms, so you will be forced to share a room and bathroom with other residents.
If trying to meet people in a new place, hostels present a great opportunity.
Of course, you have to be wary about the strangers you meet.
Hostels are more popular abroad than in the United States, but you can find them in major cities in America, too.
Most hostels have strict rules for safety reasons since they take in so many strangers every night.
6. Airbnb Or Vrbo
One of the newest ways to secure lodging is through an app such as Airbnb or Vrbo.
Through these apps, homeowners can rent out rooms or homes themselves.
The experience may vary based on the owner of the location, known as the host.
The renter gets to set the price and many of their own rules, including when they accept check-ins.
To ensure a positive experience, customers get the opportunity to rate their experience for future users.
Tips For When You Need Last-Minute Late-Night Hotel Accommodations
When you need emergency accommodations, don’t panic.
Instead, take a breath and follow these tips on getting good last-minute late-night hotel accommodations.
1. Search In The Largest Nearby Town
Larger towns will have more motel options.
They will also have more chain options.
When faced with a choice to travel a little further to get to a main metropolitan area, make the extra trip to open up your selection.
Of course, if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, this may be a longer trip than you can reasonably complete.
2. Call Hotels ASAP
As soon as you know that you’ll need a place to rest your head later, start making phone calls.
You’ll be able to call the different hotels to learn which ones may be able to accommodate you.
Even if you will be late, you may be able to convince a hotel employee to wait for you if you won’t be too much later than when the lobby closes.
3. Ask About Digital Check-In Options
If you can’t be at a hotel physically, you may be able to check in digitally.
Chain hotels, such as the Hyatt, offer digital room management options that allow you to check into your room using your smartphone.
Once you pay for your stay, you can secure it through the app.
Once you arrive, you won’t even need to talk to staff.
Instead, you can check into your room with a digital key card on your smartphone.
3. Verify The Duration Of Your Stay
After you book your room, don’t forget to verify the time you have your room.
Checking in in the middle of the night may change your checkout time to some degree, depending on the hotel’s policy.
Most hotels will expect you to check out at the normal checkout time, even if you checked in at 4:00 a.m.
Saving Money On Lodging
Hotels make up a large portion of any travel budget.
It’s best to learn how to save money on hotel lodging to leave more money for fun.
1. Bundle Airfare And Lodging
Numerous companies will help you save money by bundling your airfare and lodging through them.
They benefit by getting sales for both the airfare and hotel.
You benefit through savings.
Some of the companies to explore include:
2. Read Through The Rules And Regulations
A lot of people glance at the rules at a hotel and don’t read them thoroughly, which can lead to an expensive misunderstanding later.
Read through the rules and don’t be afraid to ask the staff if you have any questions.
The main things to consider include the check-out time and rules about the room, such as whether or not smoking is allowed and how many people can stay in the room.
You may also want to keep your eyes open for any add-ons and hidden fees.
3. Earn Rewards
Many hotels offer rewards when you book with them regularly.
Every time you book a qualifying stay, you will accumulate points that can be exchanged for a free stay in the future.
Some credit cards also team up with hotel chains to offer rewards.
4. Clean Up Your Mess
When you stay at a hotel, one of the perks is housekeeping service.
A housekeeper will make your bed, restock necessities, and clean the room.
However, the housekeeping services only go so far.
If you leave a huge mess or break things in the hotel room, your card will be charged to compensate for the additional work and any broken items.
Before you leave, do your best to take care of any messes you did create, especially if it goes above and beyond the job description of a housekeeper.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Late Can You Check Into A Hotel?
Hotel policies vary from hotel to hotel when it comes to how late they will accept a check-in.
In most cases, as long as someone in the lobby can help you, you will be able to check in.
2. Can I Check Into A Hotel After Midnight?
You can check into a hotel after midnight as long as the hotel has people in the lobby 24/7 or digital check-in.
3. What Hotels Offer 24/7 Services?
Chain hotels and motels in high-traffic areas are the most likely to offer 24/7 lobby services.
Inns and private hotels and hotels in rural areas may not offer the same courtesy.
4. Should I Inform My Hotel About The Late Check-in?
It’s not necessary to inform the hotel of a late check-in if you will be checking in during standard lobby hours.
However, if you will be exceptionally late, it can be helpful to keep the hotel staff in the loop so that they don’t sell the room to someone else.
Life takes us to unexpected places.
Sometimes, we get to these places late at night.
Luckily, most hotels will accept check-ins any time of night.
However, the rules vary from hotel to hotel, and they vary based on the hotel you pick.
When you do check in, you should make a point to pay attention to the rules of the establishment so that you don’t end up getting charged more than expected.