Hands up if you’ve been inconvenienced by restrictive hotel check-in and check-out times. Yes, we’ve all been there; it’s a foreseeable inconvenience that means you start your hotel stay stressed and frustrated.
When you are travelling for business, time is of the essence. Hotel check-in and check-outs are a notorious and inefficient bottle-neck for business travellers. While you typically have the use of the hotel’s facilities while you wait, walking around like a zombie after a red-eye flight until your hotel room is ready is not ideal. You want to be able to refresh and crack on with your itinerary – you’ve got places you need to be and people you need to meet.
The traditional check-in times of 15:00 and check-out by noon is a relic from the past; they simply don’t reflect how people use hotels but, at long last, hotel chains are recognising that their customers need flexibility.
However, there remains an inconsistency in how the chains approach flexible check-ins; some you have to pay for the convenience, whilst others grant it as a perk for loyal customers.
Marriott International Inc
Marriott International is an international hospitality company with a huge worldwide portfolio, including:
- Marriott Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- Protea Hotels
Marriott were the first hotel company to provide online reservations for guests, so you would expect it to be as progressive with its flexible check-ins and, to some extent, it is.
The Marriott Bonvoy app allows travellers to check in using their smartphone, get priority room assignments and notifies guests when their room is available. You can also message staff directly to say when you need the room by. When you arrive at the hotel, you pick up your key from the mobile check-in area, which substantially speeds up the check-in process, so you can avoid the 15:00 check-in rush.
The Marriott Bonvoy app is essentially a loyalty membership scheme – the more you stay with them, the greater the benefits. However, it’s not until you have stayed 100 nights or spent $20,000 in annual qualifying spend that you have complete flexibility with your check-in time.
Hilton Worldwide is another huge international hotel chain that has 15 brands under its umbrella, most of which have Hilton somewhere in their name, such as the DoubleTree by Hilton. The Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Embassy Suites Hotels, and the Waldorf Astoria are also part of the group.
The Hilton equivalent of the Marriott Bonvoy app is Hilton Honors. This app allows you to digitally check-in and choose your room from 06:00 on the preceding day to your arrival. When your room is ready, a digital key appears on the app so you can go straight to your room without having to go to the front desk (you can digitally check-out too).
The app streamlines the hotel experience, but it should be noted that there is some variation in check-in policies across the Hilton portfolio (some are franchisees), so you need to contact the hotels directly to see if they are open to an early check-in before the standard 15:00 hours as it is at the hotel’s discretion.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
The IHG has a diverse portfolio of brands from the prestigious Regent Hotels, mid-range Crowne Plaza to the more budget-friendly Holiday Inn. The check-in hours are traditional (15:00) but vary between the brands but, again, if you sign up to their IHG Reward Scheme and clock up some loyalty points, you can access some degree of flexibility to your reservation.
Once you’ve signed up for the reward scheme and spent more than ten nights per calendar year in IHG hotels, you qualify for priority check-in and extended check-out. Early check-in is not a perk you can enjoy until you have spent more than 75 nights with the hotel chain.
ALL – Accor Life Limitless
Accor, or ALL, as it is now known, is another big player in the hospitality industry and owns and operates in every segment of hospitality, from the luxury of Raffles, the mid-scale of Novotel and Mercure, through to the budget Ibis hotels.
Check-in across the brands is from 14:00 with a noon check-out time but you can arrange for an early check-in and late check-out. However, be warned, you have to pay for the privilege. The fee charged to access your room early varies but it can be up to £50.
By joining the ALL reward schemevia their app or online, you can check-in digitally and have a fast check-out by simply handing your key in. Additional benefits, such as late check-out time and early check-in, are only offered when you have spent more than ten and 30 nights respectively.
With hotels around the globe, Frasers Hospitality cater for those who demand something a little different. The brands of Hotel du Vin and Malmaison are perhaps the most well known in the UK. There are loyalty schemes but no check-in perks available.
The hotels have traditional check-in and check-out hours of 15:00 and noon but, should you require an early check-in, it is advised to contact the hotel directly in advance – although nothing is guaranteed.
Ennismore is a London based hospitality company with a portfolio of diverse hotels – from Gleneagles, at the prestigious end of the market, to The Hoxton brand, which has properties in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Williamsburg, Portland, downtown LA, and Chicago.
Gleneagles has traditional check-in times but will try to accommodate early check-in if you contact them in advance. However, it is The Hoxton brand that stands out; if you contact the hotel 72 hours before your arrival, you can arrange your own check-in and check-out times for no additional cost.
So, who are the saints and sinners
Number 1 – The Hoxton – Ennismore
The Hoxton brand
ALL – Accor Life Limitless
Yes, you have to pay for the privilege, but at least you have the option to guarantee an early check-in
InterContinental Hotels Group
Check-in perks are only accessible after you have spent 75 nights with the hotel chain. IHG have only just pipped Marriott to the #3 position.
Marriott International Inc
Flexibility is certainly a perk that has to be earned when staying with the Marriott hotel chain. 100 nights of residing at a Marriott is rewarded with flexible check-in but is only accessible to the most frequent Marriott guests.
The digital key is a useful benefit to avoid the rush to the front desk to beat the queues and you have the opportunity to fast-track your room being ready by contacting the hotel through the app; but where is the flexible check-in.
Hotel du Vin and Malmaison – Frasers Hospitality
Early check-in and late check-out are at the discretion of hotel management. There is a reward scheme but there are no flexible perks that are awarded to loyal guests.
The hotel industry is under pressure, especially from business travellers, to reform and allow guests to customise their hotel experiences. For hotels, other than The Hoxton brand, there is still room (excuse the pun) for improvement but early check-in and late check-out times are possible. Here are 3 tips
- Join the hotel chain’s loyalty scheme (they are free) to be rewarded with check-in perks over time.
- Download the hotel chain’s app to access the benefits offered.
- Contact the hotel directly to clarify whether they will be able to prepare your room early. Online reservations mean that you rarely need to speak to front desk. However, the human touch is sometimes all that is required to get what you need.
At A&G Corporate Travel we have developed strong relationships with the hotel chains and work with them to create a bespoke and efficient travel experience for our clients. Not only do we negotiate the best rates for hotel stays on your behalf, but we also ensure that your room is available when you need it – no more loitering in lobbies. Contact