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I don’t know about you, but I think there’s nothing worse than when your flight arrives at 12, but you have three hours before you can check in at your hotel. Filling time with all your luggage can be troublesome in a new place, especially when you’re tired from traveling or have children to consider.
So what should you do to get around this?
The answer: Book a hotel offering an early check-in service.
I’m getting married in six weeks, and as I was researching our honeymoon, I came across a few hotels offering such a service. So naturally, this prompted me to dig a little deeper. In light of that, I’ve collated a list of well-known hotel chains and explored their approach to check-in and early check-in.
That’s enough preamble; let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of this review!
Bottom Line Upfront
I’ve searched the web for the best hotel chains offering early check-in policies. My conclusion? If early check-in is essential to you, go with the Hyatt. It wins in terms of simplicity. However, I struggled to find another well-known hotel offering the same guarantee for early check-ins and late check-outs.
My Top Picks
Standard Hyatt check-ins are from 4 pm onwards and check-out from noon. However, you pay upwards of $10 to check-in early at 9 am or 12 pm and check out later at 2 pm. The Hyatt is my top pick because it’s the only hotel that offers a guaranteed early check-in service. The others have flexible policies, but nothing is guaranteed.
The Marriott’s check-in is typically 3 pm and a check-out at noon. The benefit of their policy is that you can request a free late check-out or early check-in. However, the downside is that this request isn’t guaranteed unless you’re a high-tier member of their loyalty program.
With Best Western, check-in starts at 2 pm, and check-out ends at 11 am. What I like about Best Western is that you can select a specific arrival time upon booking. However, the downside is that Best Western can’t guarantee to accommodate you.
My Selection Criteria
Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of what each hotel offers, let me quickly run you through the selection criteria I’ve used to formulate my top picks:
The Kind Of Service Offered
At the risk of stating the obvious, first and foremost, I’ll be looking at the check-in and check-out policies offered and whether the hotel provides any flexibility in this area. Primarily, I’ll focus on if they allow you to book early check-ins or late check-outs as part of their service.
The Booking Process
Interestingly, many of us prefer checking in using technology. In fact, a recent study found that 62% of travelers prefer using a hotel’s mobile app to check-in and out. However, some still favor the hotel website, with 30% opting for that choice, while the remaining 8% like to go old-school and check in and out via an in-person kiosk. With that said, I thought it would also be handy to examine the kind of check-in methods offered by these hotels.
I’ll briefly cover if any added benefits come with staying at the hotel, such as free breakfast, recreation activities, amenities, etc.
Lastly, I’ll also consider the loyalty programs offered by the hotel. This will include how the program works, the benefits provided, and, more specifically, whether they unlock access to early check-ins or late check-outs.
The Grand Hyatt is a US-based chain of hotels with 402 establishments dotted around internationally. Hyatt strives to provide guests with authentic hospitality and luxury accommodation.
In short, I think the best way to get the most out of the Hyatt check-in experience is to become a World of Hyatt member. Four membership levels are available:
This free membership scheme entitles you to several benefits, including early check-in. Every time you spend the night or host an event at a Hyatt hotel, you’ll automatically accrue membership points. You unlock different membership statuses when you reach a certain number of points which, in turn, wins you more bonuses and benefits. For example, if you stay at least ten nights at a Hyatt, you’ll be upgraded to ‘Discoverist’ status. Then, you’ll receive a 2 pm late check-out option, complimentary bottled water, and access to premium Internet service. It also gives you access to elite check-in, where you can check in early subject to availability.
- I like that early check-in is available for World of Hyatt members, starting at 9 am or 12 pm, with fees ranging from $0 for Explorist and Globalist members or $10 or more for Members and Discoverists.
- For non-members, you can add early check-in to your reservation when booking with Hyatt.com within seven days of arrival.
- I think it’s handy that Hyatt emails you within a few days of arrival to offer you the option of adding early check-in.
- World of Hyatt members can also book a late check out at 2 pm, with prices starting at $0 or $10, depending on your membership level.
- I love that membership customers get 10% off hotel rates. Pulse, you can earn points on your stays, dining, and spa services and offset these points for free nights.
- Hyatt famously offers first-rate amenities such as fitness centers, meeting rooms, and contemporary guest rooms.
- Unless you’re at a higher level of membership, you may have to pay more than $10 for early check-in, and that’s per room, so I can imagine this getting pretty expensive for larger groups.
- It’s challenging to manage the early check-in process if you haven’t booked via Hyatt.com. (If you try to book through a hotel comparison site, you’re unlikely to find the option for this service.)
- Free Wi-Fi is only available with higher membership levels.
- Apparently, there are no discounts on multi-night stays.
- Complimentary breakfast is only available at some hotels.
My Take on Hyatt
What I find interesting about Hyatt is that it’s the only brand on my list that’s transparent about charging early check-in fees. While the other chains listed here may charge for this service, that information isn’t available at the time of writing. In short, I love the transparency, so hats off to Hyatt for making this clear.
The Four Seasons chain is reputedly one of the most luxurious hotels available. The first Four Seasons Hotel was opened in Canada in 1961. Since then, the chain has amassed 124 establishments across the globe. The Four Seasons doesn’t have a traditional loyalty program. But, they do recognize loyal customers with elite status. Unfortunately, this scheme is through invitation only, and they don’t disclose what this entails.
So, with that in mind, let’s see how it stands up against some of the other big names in the hospitality business where early check-in is concerned:
- If you decide not to opt for early check-in, the chain will store your bags for you. That way, you won’t miss any sightseeing. I love that you can just ditch your bags and start making the most of your vacation.
- Similarly, if you decide not to ask for early check-in, you can use their fitness facilities to freshen up.
- There are Four Seasons hotels all around the world, including the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, and the Pacific.
- The chain has a free Kids Club for children aged 5-12 years, where kids can do sports, crafts, swimming, and more.
- I love that you can customize your room – how decadent is that?! For example, mattress toppers, hypoallergenic pillows, cots, etc.
- The Four Seasons offers decent entertainment facilities, including TV with Netflix, HBO Go, and other streaming services. Access to board games and card games on request, 5000+ newspapers and magazines, and DVD and BluRay facilities on request.
- Rooms are kitted out with a white noise machine and Bluetooth speakers.
- I also love that the Four Seasons offer twice-daily housekeeping, a same-day laundry service, room service, high chairs, and baby toiletries.
There’s no other information available about check-in other than that standard check-in isn’t until 3 pm, which I think seems quite late. Four Seasons says if customers want early check-in or late check-out, they should book an extra day or half-day. You can pay half the daily rate to guarantee your ideal check-in or check-out time. However, depending on availability, you may be able to do either for free if you ask in advance, though it isn’t guaranteed.
My Take On The Four Seasons
While the Four Seasons has a stellar reputation and is known for its high quality, it’s disappointing that there’s so little information about the possibility of an early check-in. It may be at each hotel’s discretion, but we could not verify if this is the case.
Marriott Hotels are part of the Marriott Bonvoy Group. There are over 8,000 properties located worldwide, including the US, UK, and Europe, spanning over 139 countries. As a brand, Marriott lists putting customers and employees first, pursuing excellence, acting with integrity, and embracing change as its core values.
The company also has a free-to-join membership program where you can unlock benefits for your stay. They operate a tier-based system where the more nights you stay, the more rewards you can earn. The membership levels go from basic membership to:
- Silver Elite
- Gold Elite
- Platinum Elite
- Titanium Elite
- Ambassador Elite
You can earn free internet access, discounts, late check-out, and mobile check-in. With mobile check-in, you can check-in as early as 8 am, but there’s no guarantee your room will be ready if you arrive before 3 pm. So it’s more of a means of telling them when you’ll be there.
So, with that said, let’s check out how Marriott compares to other chains where check-in is concerned:
- I love that Marriot makes it easy to find information about early check-in. Each individual hotel has its own check-in and out information on its website. This is listed in the Hotel information or Key Amenities section.
- Early check-ins are possible but based on request and availability. However, the hotel will store your luggage if it cannot accommodate your early check-in request.
- You can request an early and late check-in online when making your reservation or after you’ve made your reservation. You can do this via the Marriott website or the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app. In addition, I think it’s convenient that the Marriott website has a helpful blog that walks you through the process.
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite members receive a welcome gift at check-in. In addition, Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite members can check in to their room any time and have it for 24 hours.
- The Marriott brand is an umbrella for different types of hotels, from Marriott itself to Fairfield Hotels, W Hotels, St Regis Hotels, Bvlgari hotels, and many others. In total, there are seven luxury Marriott brands, 11 premium, eight standard hotels, and four brands that offer longer stay options for customers.
- Marriott has partnered with TED to provide customers with in-room TED talks, access to live events, and online professional development videos on public speaking. I think this is a pretty unique USP!
- I love that rooms in many destinations have been redesigned to include walk-in showers, locally inspired artwork, and a more contemporary aesthetic.
- Unfortunately, early check-in can’t be guaranteed, even if you request it in advance.
- Where prices are concerned, I couldn’t find any reference to early check-in fees.
- I was surprised that Marriott International doesn’t have a good Trustpilot rating, with an abysmal average of 1.5 out of 5 stars. Guests cite a poorly organized and hosted wedding at their hotel in Phuket, Thailand, dirty rooms, rude staff, and more.
- The online help center on Marriott’s website is very basic. For example, I tried (and failed) to find more information on room sizes in different hotels.
My Take On Marriott
I like that Marriott’s recently made improvements to their hotels. But, as with most hotels on this list, you may be hoping for early check-in, but nothing is signed and sealed even if you ask nicely!
Like Marriott, Hilton is a worldwide brand encompassing hotels, extended-stay suites, resorts, and luxury brands, including the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, and more everyday brands, including Doubletree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, and just Hilton itself. In total, Hilton boasts 6,892 properties worldwide across 122 countries and territories!
The Hilton has a points-based loyalty program called the Hilton Honors. It’s free to join and has several tiers that you work your way through by staying at their hotels:
The program unlocks rewards such as discounts, free night stays, and free WIFI. Notably, benefits don’t extend to early check-in or late check-out bonuses.
With that said, I’ll focus our microscope on the check-in process for the Hilton brand, which has 595 hotels across 93 countries.
The positive is that you can ask for early check-in. However, as with the majority of chains in this review, it’s naturally subject to availability, and Hilton can’t guarantee it. They advise you to contact the hotel you’re staying in directly and make the request. You can find out the details for the hotel you’re booking by clicking ‘Hotel Details’ during booking.
I love that the Hilton Honors program is free to join! It has almost 133 million members who receive perks such as using your points to bid for “once in a lifetime experiences” such as cultural trips, sports tickets, etc. Other Honors program benefits include free Wi-Fi, 5th night free, and cheaper rates.
- I couldn’t find any information about how guests might specifically request a check-in, for example, via a mobile app or any other method.
- The chain doesn’t standardize check-in times, so you’ll have to research this before selecting your hotel.
Only Hilton Honor members get free Wi-Fi, so although the program is free to join, if you don’t want to, you may have to pay for internet access.
My Take On Hilton
I think it’s a shame the chain doesn’t standardize its check-in times. It means the onus is on the customer to look before booking. However, at least Hilton’s site makes it easy to do that on your booking, and its website guides you where to look.
In common with other hotels mentioned above, Best Western is part of a chain of hotels that include other named brands. For instance, the World of Hotels Collection (four hotels), Best Western Hotels and Resorts (ten hotel brands including Best Western), and SureStay Hotel Group (four hotel brands).
They also have a loyalty program that gives Best Western members various benefits such as room upgrades, reward cards, and free nights’ stays. Like the other programs, it’s free to join, and you can level up by staying at any Best Western hotel. At each tier, the more points you earn, the more benefits you unlock. The tiers are:
- Diamond Select
Here we’re just honing on the check-in aspect of Best Western hotels:
- Check-in is anytime after 2 pm.
- I like that you can request an early check-in from your chosen Best Western hotel, but, unfortunately, it isn’t guaranteed.
- I love that you can let Best Western know from a choice of four times what time you hope to arrive: before noon, 1 pm, 2 pm, or 3 pm. This seems pretty unique to Best Western and helps to ensure that they’re able to accommodate your needs (although, as we’ve already said, there aren’t any guarantees!)
- You can get an early check-in if you belong to the Best Western Members (BWM) program.
- I also think it’s pretty cool that if you’re an Elite member with another hotel chain, BWM will match your status. This is called ‘Status Match, No Catch.’
- I love that the rewards you gain with the Best Western Rewards program don’t expire.
- Exclusive member rates are available at all membership levels.
- I think it’s great that the Best Western website makes its special offers incredibly visible and easy to navigate, such as stay two nights/get a free night on Fall/Winter stays (at the time of writing)
- You get a complimentary breakfast (who doesn’t love that?!). However, this varies from hotel to hotel, as do other amenities such as free Wi-Fi and in-room coffee and tea makers.
- The hotel chain only accepts check-ins from over 21s.
- I think it’s a tad sneaky that hidden in the booking conditions; it states that if you arrive after 6 pm, you’re advised to tell your hotel by phoning the number in the hotel’s description. If you don’t, your reservation may be canceled and resold, coinciding with the cancellation terms.
- I wasn’t thrilled to see no information on the Best Western Customer Care FAQ about check-in; I had to dig around Google to find this information.
- While commendable, the hotel chain is still implementing COVID protocols, which can result in cleaning delays, so early check-in may not be possible.
- At first glance, their member program seems to offer fewer perks than other hotel chain schemes.
My Take on Best Western
Looking at some of the images of Best Western rooms, some of the hotels look a bit tired. That said, I really like that when you’re booking, you can fill in a form indicating what time they should expect you.
The Wyndham was founded in Dallas in 1981. They have over 8,900 hotels in 95 countries across the USA, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. In total, 22 brands form the Wyndham hotel chain, including Wyndham Grand, Ramada, Ramada Encore, Tryp, AmericInn, and many more. But, for our review, we’re looking at the Wyndham Grand brand.
The Wyndham Rewards program has four levels:
The program is free to join. The more nights you accrue, the better the rewards you unlock. For instance, free night stays discounts, free Wi-Fi, and more. From the Gold tier onwards, you can access late check-out and early check-in from the Platinum level onwards.
- Platinum and Diamond Wyndham Reward members receive early check-in for free (upon request), which applies to all the Wyndham hotels, not just Wyndham Grand.
- I like that you can request an early check-in when you book online by completing the “special requests” form. However, it’s not guaranteed.
- There’s a good choice of locations all around the world.
- The Wyndham Grand brand offers premium amenities with contemporary and attractively designed rooms, including superior bath products and plush bedding.
- I love that if you stay twice in a Wyndham Grand hotel, you earn a free night (who doesn’t like a bargain?!)
- You must be 21 or older to check in.
- Check-in isn’t until 4 pm, and check-out is at 11 am. I think the check-in time seems pretty late!
- I wasn’t a fan that I couldn’t find much information online about the hotel chain’s approach to check-in.
- Although I like that there’s a Wyndham Hotels app, some reviewers report difficulty finding options such as how to cancel a reservation or error messages when trying to book through the app.
My Take On The Wyndham
I love that there’s an incredible choice of hotels to go for. However, I’m less impressed with the 4 pm check-in. This leads me to wonder, even if you did ask and were granted early check-in, would it only be as late as 2 pm, for example, which is a standard check-in elsewhere?
Before wrapping up this round-up on the best hotel chains with early check-in, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject:
Answer: To avoid disappointment or frustration, here are a few things worth checking before booking your next stay:
Parking – do they have on-site parking? Is there a cost for this?
Identification – do I need an ID to check in?
Reviews – do other customers rate it highly?
Children – are children welcome?
Cancellations – can you cancel your booking? If so, what are the policies surrounding this?
Answer: Most hotel chains offer some kind of loyalty program. They’re often free to join and require little effort on your part. Of course, if you’re going to be staying at hotels a lot, it definitely makes sense to join a loyalty program of some kind, if not multiple. But, even if your hotel stays are few and far between, many programs reward you with benefits just for joining, regardless of how often you stay.
Answer: No! As long as the hotel knows you’re coming, it doesn’t matter how late you check in. This is all the more essential if the hotel has a door lock or room reassignment policy.
My Final Thoughts and Winner
Hopefully, my review has given you a flavor of the regular check-in times, early check-in times, and the pros and cons of some of the most notable hotels on the market.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the hotel in question when it comes to early check-in. Of course, many will try to accommodate your request. But be prepared to accept that it’s not always possible if they’re full or if COVID cleaning protocols prevent such a service.
That said, if I had to declare a winner, it would be Hyatt. Out of all the check-in and check-out policies listed, theirs seems to be the most upfront about their services. There’s no sneaky undercut where they can turn you down. If you’ve paid for early check-in or check-out, you get it. I think the clarity of this approach is a lot easier to understand than the other hotel policies in this area. Moreover, I like that they also have a rewards program that allows you to unlock these services for free!
If you’re still reluctant – my advice is: Ask. Worst case, it’s a “sorry, no,” In the best case, you’ll be able to breeze into your room a few hours early to get some valuable downtime.
That’s all, folks; let me know how you get on in the comments below!
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