The usual policy of hotels is to set their check out time at 10 or 11 am and their check in times early in the afternoon, such as 3: pm or later. The time period in between is intended to allow the hotel to clean up after the former guests have checked out and make sure that the room is ready to accommodate the next set of guests.
Given this set schedule, it’s common for some guests to arrive at their hotels a couple of hours earlier than the designated check in time. This is usually due to early flight schedules or pretty much anything that puts the traveler at the hotel at an earlier time than expected. Unfortunately, you don’t always get to ask the hotel to let you go into your rooms immediately.
You’ll want to be able to make the most of your travels, and sticking around to wait to be checked in isn’t exactly a productive use of time. It’d be better if you had something better to do than just wait until the afternoon. Whether you want to use the time to take a rest after a long trip or to go elsewhere, you’re better off doing something else indeed.
So what can you do when the front desk clerk tells you that your room’s not ready yet and early check-in won't be possible? Well, there are a couple of things you can consider, and since you’ve got nothing better to do, then they’re definitely worth a try.
1. Get a room upgrade or downgrade.
Your hotel reservation usually has a pre-assigned room already. If it’s not ready yet, you might want to ask for other available rooms that are already clean and good for use. You might want to try politely asking the front desk if they can get you into another room. If that doesn’t work, ask if you could get an upgrade to a more expensive room. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an upgrade to a more expensive room that’s not only available but free of charge as well. If you’re really desperate to get in a hotel room, you could also ask for a downgrade.
2. Stash your luggage away.
One thing you can definitely do is to free yourself of your heavy luggage. Having to lug around a week’s worth of clothing can take a toll on you, and the least that the concierge can do is to take your bags someplace safe while you wait. The good thing about this is that you can do this pretty much anytime whether or not it’s time to check in.
Just make sure you get a receipt so you can claim the bags after. But once you’re free of your literal baggage, you’re no free to roam or decide on your next plan of action.
3. Request early check in when you make the reservation.
Now, this isn’t exactly something you’ll always get or hotels will offer, but it’s worth a shot. When you make your reservation, make sure to indicate that you will want to be checked in early. If you’re lucky, they will honor this request and you’ll be able to head to your hotel room earlier than usual.
4. Visit the hotel’s spa.
You don’t have to check in to be able to enjoy the hotel’s many amenities. In fact, you don’t even have to be a guest of the hotel - you just need to pay the separate fee. But in this case, the hotel is likely to let you enjoy the services of its spa so you can finally put your feet up and relax after that really long trip.
5. Use the hotel’s business center
While waiting, you might need to check your email to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything or just surf the internet while waiting for check in time. Most hotels will already have their internet connection that you can connect to as well. This is a good time to also surf the internet for some useful travel tips based on your location and more. Just go to the front desk and ask for the Wi-Fi password.
6. Explore and eat
With you bags safely stowed away, you can go out of the hotel and look for something to do or just grab something to eat. Make sure you go to the front desk to ask for a map before you leave. This will at least give you a feel of the neighborhood before you finally head out to do some serious exploring. Alternatively, you can just find a nearby cafe to have a cup or tea or coffee.
7. Use the hotel lounge or lobby
These are the more comfortable spots of the hotel and pretty much your next best thing when you can’t sleep in your own hotel room yet. Here you can grab a few snacks, read the papers, have a few drinks watch TV or more. There are literally tons of ways you can entertain yourself until check in time.
8. Exchange currency and buy stamps
You’ll be doing these things anyway, so why not do them now while you still have nothing better to do? The hotel is likely to have its own local currency for exchange as well, but if you feel like finding a place with a better exchange rate, you can go out and do just that. That way, you won’t have to waste time getting your money exchanged at a later time. You can also stop by the post office to get stamps so you can freely send postcards later on.
9. Go to the park.
Ask the concierge for directions or pick up a map and head to the nearest park for an impromptu picnic. This is not only a great way to unwind, but it will also be a great opportunity for you to get a good look at the place you’ll be exploring the next few days.
This list is definitely more than enough to burn that time you have before checking in. It’ll be noon before you know it.