Goodbye to the 11am kick-out? Why hotels are eliminating traditional check-in times

IIt’s pretty strange when you think about it. You are the first to arrive in a city, after a long night flight and much argument at the airport, with a heavy suitcase in tow. And yet you cannot settle into a comfortable room for another seven hours. At best, your room might be ready an hour or two earlier than 3pm; Worst case scenario, you’ll be lugging it over cobblestones and up steps trying to find a cafe to while away a few hours. In the meantime, you’re bleeding sightseeing time.

The traditional 3 p.m. check-in and 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. check-out, which is strictly mandated in 99.9 percent of hotels, is still a regular travel frustration. While it’s much easier for guests and properties to discuss arrival and departure times, the dance remains the same: a back line at reception during these “peak hours,” with the empty hours of 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in which the cleaning staff can turn around to accommodate the next guest.

But over the years, momentum has quietly built towards a better way. In the summer of 2016, Standard Hotels introduced Standard Time, a paid perk that allows guests to check in and out at any time. “We can think of a number of reasons” why you might want to do this, the brand said at the time, citing “you jet after sunset” and “the minibar doesn’t drink itself” as just two of them. It was only available to people who booked directly through the brand’s website.

Then, in late 2019, stylish boutique hotel group Hoxton unveiled their “Flexy Time” initiative, also available as a benefit for direct booking guests only. These VIPs can check in at a time of their choosing from midnight at the start of their arrival day and check out at a time of their choosing up to midnight at the end of their departure day.

Peninsula Time is free as long as you book direct with the brand – flexible time in exchange for loyalty seems like the way forward

“Flexy Time aims to eliminate the irritations travelers regularly face – from not being able to shower after a long-haul flight to checking out half asleep after a long night – and giving guests more time to do their to enjoy your stay. whatever their reason for traveling,” the brand said in a statement at the time.

Still in operation, this benefit doesn’t even necessarily cost the vacationer more. When researching my preferred hotel in Hoxton, the Williamsburg outpost in Brooklyn, NY, I found a cozy room for £235, room only, including Flexy Time – which would allow me to arrive from 00:01 on day one and departing at 11:59 p.m. the second. The same room was available on for £225, with the stricter times of check-in at 2pm and check-out at 12pm. listed the hotel for just £1 less at £234 per night for the same room with the same rigid check-in structure. All in all I’d pay £10 more for Flexy Time but get up to 26 hours of access to a bed, shower, power sockets and quiet privacy.

A room at the Hoxton Williamsburg, Brooklyn

(Hoxton Hotels)

In 2021, the Peninsula Hotels followed with “Peninsula Time” and enabled guests to move into their room as early as 6 a.m. on the day of departure and leave it by 10 p.m. Again, this is free as long as you book direct with the brand – flexible time in exchange for loyalty seems the way forward. The group has even rearranged cleaning staff shifts earlier and later to allow for more flexible working hours. A month after the launch, the group head of the Afar brand said the group had seen a “significant increase in business from customers traveling with Qantas” who would arrive at LAX at 8am and choose to stay at the more flexible Peninsula to stay in Beverly Hills.

More recently, the Portuguese group Octant Hotels is making great efforts for what they call “a new scope of freedom” in their properties, which means the abolition of formal check-in and check-out times, no closing times for swimming pools and no deadline to disembark included to the breakfast buffet. Heaven for those of us who loathe a long list of intense house rules, right? However, it’s not yet advertising its flexible check-in on its hotel websites, which means you’ll need to research ahead of time and adjust your stay times.

And it’s not just about an extra hour in bed, a more leisurely breakfast, or arriving tired first. The current system sees long queues at the front desk during the midday and afternoon hours as all guests rush to check out and check in at the earliest or latest possible time.

In response, startups promoting non-traditional hotel hours have also emerged over the years — HotelFlex, one that aimed to “change the way hotels work so guests can come in and out at any time they want.” can check out – and pay accordingly”. came and went in 2017. Similarly, the still-running Dayuse aims to maximize the hotel’s potential by letting vacant rooms to short-stay guests for a few hours between check-ins.

Octant Hotels’ approach eliminates formal check-in or check-out times, no closing times for swimming pools and no time limit for breakfast service

Meanwhile, Indian brand Brevistay recently reported that it has grown 186 percent year over year with its “pay-per-hour” business model, which is very similar to HotelFlex’s – allowing hotel users to book exactly the hours and to pay where they stay and want to use hotel rooms. Scheduling flexibility is still very much on the radar of the modern hotel as a bargaining chip for loyalty and bookings.

Rob Andrews, COO of Hoxton Hotels, told me that guests who have chosen Flexy Time at the brand’s London locations make between 10 and 12 bookings per day on average. “Flexy Time allows us to offer guests who choose to have a truly personalized service…it was an industry first when it launched and is just one of the ways The Hoxton is innovating in hospitality,” he adds .

Another factor in the quest for flexibility is telecommuters and bleisure travelers – if someone is working from a city abroad, they need to get online, and fast. Many are willing to pay a little more for the privilege.

Have you booked a hotel that is still a long way from the revolutionary phase of flexible check-in? As a tip from someone who checks in frequently, I would say always try your luck, especially with late checkouts. First thing on the phone, politely ask if it would be possible to check out an hour or two after the standard time and you have a good chance of getting a yes. Whether it’s in the name of an extra hour in bed or a shower before an afternoon flight, it’s always worth trying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *