Maybe your travel plans haven’t gone to plan, or there was a cheaper, later flight available that was too good to pass up.

Whatever the case, it’s good to know if you can check into a hotel late or not?

In short, there is no universal rule for what happens if you arrive to a hotel late and want to check in.

If the front desk offers 24/7 service, then you can arrive at any time. If not, if you call in advance, perhaps you will be accommodated, but there is no guarantee that this will happen.

The Latest You Can Check Into a Hotel

The latest you can check into a hotel varies on a hotel-to-hotel basis.

Generally, how late you can check in will depend on the size of the hotel.

Small Hotels

Generally, the smaller the hotel, the less leeway you have when checking in late.

Small hotels are usually run by just one or two people, so to keep them waiting for you into the early hours of the morning is unreasonable to expect.

Always call in advance if you are checking into a small hotel late.

Not only will the owner(s) appreciate it, but you won’t be left stranded outside your hotel late at night, not being able to get in.

Medium-Sized Hotels

If you have booked a room in a medium-sized hotel, there is usually someone on call who will be able to check in late arrivals.

Again, it would be unreasonable, although arguably less so, to check into the hotel in the middle of the night/very early in the morning – or at the very least, without calling in advance.

Some medium-sized hotels even have a 24/7 reception, so checking in at any time won’t be a problem.

Large Hotels

Large hotels, whether they be chain hotels or not, very likely have someone at the front desk 24/7, which means that you can check in any time of the night.

Even in the case of checking in late at large hotels, it is advised to call them in advance.

This isn’t because you won’t be able to check in late at night, but instead it is because they might consider you a no-show and sell your room to someone else.

What Happens If You Check Into a Hotel Late

What happens if you check into a hotel late will vary depending on the size and type of hotel.

Generally, small hotels may or may not be able to accommodate your request. If they do, they may not be best pleased with you either – and you might know it for the duration of your stay.

Similarly, if you are staying at a five-star hotel, even if it is a small, boutique hotel, you can expect more flexibility – and are unlikely to receive any dirty looks either.

Larger hotels may consider you a no-show if you do not inform them of your arrival in advance, and may sell your room during times of high occupancy.

If You Check in to a Hotel Late, Can You Check Out Late?

If you are staying for just one night and check in late, you might be wondering if you can check out later in the day.

The answer is no.

You can not check out late from a hotel just because you checked in late. The time you arrive is irrelevant. All hotels have their own rules when guests should check out by, which is usually between 11am and 2pm.

Housekeeping also need to do their jobs and prepare the room for the next guest staying in the room.

You can always request a late checkout, though this will only extend checkout by a couple of hours at best.

Conversely, you can check out of a hotel early, but you will receive at best a partial refund for cutting your stay short.

Why Hotel Check-ins Are So Late

As just mentioned, hotel check-ins are so late because housekeeping need enough time to clean and prepare the room for the next guests after the previous guests have left.

You Usually Can’t Check Into a Hotel Early

You might also be wondering if you can check into a hotel early.

After all, we all know how frustrating it is that most hotels state that check-in is in the early to mid-afternoon – approximately from 2pm to 4pm.

This is so housekeeping has enough time to clean the room between the last guest arriving and new arrivals.

If the hotel isn’t at full capacity, you may be in luck and be able to check in early because there will be a clean room available.

If you are unable to check in early, you should at the very least be able to leave your luggage safely at the hotel while you explore the area or hotel while you wait for your room to be ready.

In any case, it’s always best to ask in advance and see what the hotel can do, instead of just showing up and hoping for the best.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).