More often than not, I’m either arriving at my hotel way ahead of check-in time, or way late of check-in time. Arriving early can be a dicey predicament, especially if coming in from a long day or a tiresome flight and you want to do nothing more than catch a nap when a room isn’t ready.
Last year when I visited Pamplona, Spain to see the Running of the Bulls, I stayed at the Grand Hotel La Perla. After taking an overnight bus from Barcelona (due to a train snafu), I arrived into Pamplona at around 4:30am. After taking a taxi to the hotel, I was able to successfully check-in to this hotel at 5:30am, probably one of the earliest check-ins I’ve ever done — and, I was only charged for the one night I was staying, which was even more gracious on part of the property.
There’s a list of strategies and tips I use to check-in to a hotel earlier than the usual 3p or 4p designated time, some of which you may find helpful.
Tweet The Hotel
One of the most successful ways I find in getting an earlier room is Tweeting to the hotel or brand asking them to note your file. Usually you can do this over direct message without every having to call someone, and if there’s something available, they’ll usually pre-block the room for you.
Call The Hotel
If you’re in a position to call, speak to the front desk directly. Often, they can be aware of room inventories that the corporate office isn’t aware of. If they know of a specific situation where a guest is checking out early, they can then assign housekeeping to get that room finished for you to check-in.
Monitor Hotel Inventory
If you’re a few days ahead of check-in, look at the availability for the night prior to when you anticipate checking in. If the booking engines show “hotel not available” or you see no rooms for sale, chances are the hotel is fully committed. In this case, you know you’ll be forced to wait for someone to check-out before you can check-in. Now, your strategy will change to finding which room will be checking out earlier, and hoping for that room to become available. In any urban hotel, there’s always someone who needs to catch an early flight, or head out for a morning business meeting, so it’s hard to assume everyone is going to wait until the noon check-out time.
Use Elite Status
It’s not often that elite status guarantees an early check-in — most are on the opposite side offering a late check-out. However, if you’re a Diamond or other top-tier elite, it’s worth a shot mentioning your status as something may suddenly become available.
Drop By The Hotel
I hate to suggest this, but as a “last resort,” if you’re in the area, drop by the hotel itself vs. calling or Tweeting. While I wouldn’t necessarily suggest this if you’re far away, if you an easily make a swing by without altering other plans, you may prove successful in getting a room earlier than usual simply by showing your face. If no rooms are available, a hotel will usually be willing to store your luggage until check-in at no additional charge.
If you’re booked into a King Room and only a Twin Room becomes available early, if you’re flexible and willing to take the other room type, you may be able to check-in early, albeit not in your originally preferred room. On the flip side, perhaps a better room is available sooner. If you’re dead tired, and just want to get to a bed, an upgrade into a suite may be worth it, depending on the price.
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