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Want to get into your hotel room early? Try this

Aug. 14, 2022
8 min read
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There are lots of ways to get a late checkout at a hotel and plenty of reasons to want one. The ability to sleep in and milk the final hours of a stay or just pass time comfortably before your flight home can really simplify logistics on the final day of your vacation.

Seasoned travelers know all sorts of tricks to help them score extra time in the room before leaving, including the fact that Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt and other major hotel loyalty programs include late checkouts as a benefit you earn with elite status.

But what about checking in early?

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This can be equally important for some travelers, particularly those who arrive at their destination early in the morning. I found myself looking for early check-in just last week when I arrived in London in the morning from an overnight flight.

Some hotel loyalty programs give travelers check-in flexibility as they reach high-level status tiers. For instance, IHG One Rewards makes it an explicit benefit for Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite guests (subject to availability). Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite members can take advantage of the “Your24” benefit, which allows you to pick your check-in and checkout time.

World of Hyatt has a fairly robust system for reserving an early check-in or late checkout at Hyatt Place hotels. Depending on your status, it may cost you, but it's a pretty good bargain. Members without elite status or with Discoverist status can reserve a 9:00 a.m. check-in for $10. It's a free benefit for Explorist and Globalist members.

Regardless of the hotel brand, there are tricks that might get you into your room early. In some cases at no cost. Will each tactic work every time? No. But it's worth a shot.

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Try this: Check in on your hotel's app

I've had quite a bit of luck getting into my room early simply by using the mobile check-in feature on a hotel app.

A few years ago, I remember arriving at about 7:30 a.m. at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) with a lot of time to kill, wishing I could just get into my hotel room early.

I had a reservation at the Marriott Tysons Corner — not a top-tier Marriott Bonvoy property by any stretch, but not a budget brand either. Fortunately, I had checked in on the app the day before.

I was in my room at Tysons Corner at about 9:00 a.m. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

A second later, my phone buzzed. My room was ready. It was about 8:00 a.m. and my room for that night was ready for me. It felt like a lucky draw, but I’ve had similar scenarios play out several times since then, including twice in the last month.

I recently got this notification my room was ready — and was able to access my mobile key — before I'd even arrived in town. (Screenshot from marriott.com)

None of this cost me anything extra, and for many of these stays, I had either no status or just Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status. (I’m now Gold Elite thanks to recently adding The Platinum Card® from American Express to my wallet).

On each of these occasions, I used the mobile check-in feature on the app to alert the hotel I'd be arriving early, the hotel had a room ready at the time I noted I would arrive.

A room at the Ritz-Carlton Turks and Caicos. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Many hotel chains will give you the option of a mobile check-in 24 to 48 hours ahead of your arrival. The app will generally ask you what time you plan to get to the hotel.

With some apps — including the Marriott Bonvoy app — you have quite a bit of latitude to put the earliest time you might arrive. This doesn’t mean the hotel will honor your request, but you have nothing to lose by putting the time you actually plan to get there.

Again just this past week, while driving to Iowa for the Field of Dreams game I marked "noon" for my arrival time, hoping to get some early afternoon rest in my room after a morning flight. It worked.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

Now, this obviously isn’t a foolproof tactic. I’ve generally had greater success getting into my room early at less in-demand hotels. Are you as likely to be successful getting into your room hours early at the Ritz Carlton Turks and Caicos or the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa? as I was at a hotel in rural Illinois?

Probably not. It's worth a try though.

Sunrise on the patio at the Westin Verasa Napa. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Set yourself up for a smooth trip: make the request elsewhere, too

If getting into your room early is important to you, there are some other steps you can take to try and maximize your chances of getting an early check-in.

For one, some hotel chains give you the option to make the request when you actually book the stay. At Marriott, if you know when booking your room that you'll want to get into your room early, you can click "early check-in."

(Screenshot from Marriott Bonvoy)

Then, note your anticipated arrival time. Again, this isn't guaranteeing anything, but it can certainly help give the hotel an early heads-up that you'll be wanting to get into your room early. It's all based on availability, Marriott says. The company also has a chat feature in its app where you can go in and make requests after booking the stay.

(Screenshot from Marriott Bonvoy)

Using Hilton as another example, there isn't a specific "early check-in" box when you're booking a room, but there is a place where you can write in a "special request."

(Screenshot from Hilton)

If all else fails, you can try using the app to chat with the hotel to request an early check-in, call the front desk or visit the front desk in-person to see if they have a room ready for you ... or if they can accelerate the process of getting one ready. At the very least, the front desk can generally secure your belongings so you're not lugging your bags around while waiting for a room.

A suite at the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York City. (Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Some hotels have protocols for getting an early check-in. At many properties, your options grow as you earn elite status.

But regardless of status, we all find ourselves with a need to get into a hotel room early from time to time. From checking in on your mobile app and marking your arrival time, to making use of live chat and special request features to the timeless strategy of asking nicely, there are any number of tactics you can try.

Ultimately, it's a question of availability and letting the property know — as early as possible — what you want.

Read these stories for more hotel tips:

Featured image by (Photo by Morsa Images/Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases