Features

Smart Traveller: our guide to flexible check-in/out

10 Jun 2024 by Hannah Brandler
Customer at the reception (istock.com/elenabs)

You’ve just landed from a long-haul red-eye flight. Exhausted, dehydrated and slightly delusional, you arrive at the hotel only to hear that your room isn’t available until 3pm. Fast forward to the next day, and you’re in the same position. Your flight home is late in the evening, but check-out takes place at 12pm, leaving you without a base for the whole day ahead.

While timings may vary by an hour or two, this is largely the global standard for hotels, leaving business travellers without a space to rest and recharge (both themselves and their drained smart devices). Leisure travellers, meanwhile, aren’t even granted a full 24 hours to experience the hotel’s facilities.

Of course, hotels usually allow guests to leave their luggage in secure storage free of charge, so they can explore the local area without feeling weighed down. Your room may also be free earlier than usual, thanks to early guest departures, or you can pay extra for a late check-out – but none of these are guaranteed.

Lately, however, some brands have introduced flexible policies at no extra cost, providing a sigh of relief for those of us that are constantly on the move. Here we round up the properties to prioritise if you’re keen to get into your room as quickly as possible (or have a well-deserved lie-in), as well as outlining the top-tier benefits of certain hotel loyalty programmes which guarantee early check-in/late check-out.

The Hoxton

The Ennismore brand has allowed guests to check in or out at any time since 2019. The Flexy Time initiative is applicable across all hotels under The Hoxton brand, though guests must provide 72 hours’ notice – regular check-in is at 2pm and check-out at 12pm. At the booking stage, guests pick a one-hour slot from a drop-down menu, spanning midnight on the day of arrival to midnight on the day of departure. If you’re late to decide, you can extend check-out by £10 per hour until 4pm.

The Peninsula Hotels

The luxury hotel group offers guests the option to check in as early as 6am and check out as late as 10pm. This flexible policy, known as Peninsula Time, was first trialled at the Beverly Hills property and then rolled out to the entire global portfolio in 2021. Note that the policy is only available when booking direct with the hotel company and through travel agents (though not through larger online travel agents such as Expedia).

The Standard Hotels

The stylish hotel group gives guests the opportunity to pick their check-in/check-out times. At the booking stage, customers can choose the Standard Time rate plan from the drop-down menu – but are advised to book ahead as it’s subject to availability. Prior to the stay, guests will receive an email asking their estimated check-in/out times.

Leven Manchester

This independent hotel in Manchester allows guests to check in and out at whatever time suits them, provided they book directly with the hotel and inform the team at the time of making their reservation.

Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Dubai

While not applicable across the entire Jumeirah portfolio, this hotel in Dubai allows guests to check in at any time within a 24-hour time frame. Guests must let the hotel know 48 hours in advance of their stay.

LOYALTY PROGRAMMES

All – Accor Live Limitless

Accor grants Silver members late check-out, while Gold, Platinum and Diamond members also get early check-in. Timings are flexible and subject to availability.

Ascott Star Rewards (ASR)

This loyalty programme for select properties under The Ascott Limited allows Silver members to get late check-out. Gold members are guaranteed a 2pm late check-out, while Platinum members get a check-out of 3pm and the option to check-in from 9am until 3pm under the ‘full 24-hour stay’ privilege.

Fans of MO

Members of Mandarin Oriental’s loyalty programme are granted early check-in at 12pm and late check-out at 4pm – but only when booking via the hotel’s dedicated website.

GHA Discovery

This loyalty programme for the Global Hotel Alliance, which includes brands such as Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts and Minor Hotels among others, permits Platinum members a room until 3pm, while Titanium members are granted early check-in from 11am and late check-out until 4pm.

IHG Rewards

IHG Hotels and Resorts gifts entry-level members late check-out at 2pm. Platinum and Diamond Elite members also benefit from early check-in.

Marriott Bonvoy

There are varying levels of flexibility, dependant on members’ tier status. Gold Elite members secure a 2pm check-out, Platinum and Titanium Elite get the later option of 4pm at participating properties (subject to availability at resort and convention hotels), and Ambassador Elite can choose the 24 hours of their stay – ie they can check-in and out at whatever time.

Radisson Rewards

The Radisson Hotel Group offers early check-in and late check-out to Premium and VIP members.

Rocco Forte Friends

This recognition programme for British hotel group Rocco Forte Hotels enables loyal guests to get a late check-out and early check-in where possible.

Shangri-La Circle

This frequent guest programme offers Gold members check-in from 11am and check-out at 4pm (though not at China World Summit Wing, Beijing; or the Shangri-La properties in Paris, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver and The Shard, London). Diamond members secure check-in at 8am and check-out at 6pm. Those that have been lucky enough to reach the Polaris tier – it’s “invitation only” – can check-in from midnight on the day of arrival and check-out by 6pm, though note that advance reservation is required.

World of Hyatt

Discoverist and Explorist members of Hyatt’s loyalty programme can enjoy a 2pm check-out, while Globalist guests get a 4pm check-out.

Wyndham Rewards

Gold members of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ loyalty programme are granted a late check-out, though no specific time is listed. Platinum and Diamond members get both early check-in and late check-out.

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