When You Arrive Too Early for Check-In

Everyone wants to get the most out of their vacation. Unfortunately, yours may become stalled if you arrive too early to check in at your hotel. At most places, check-in doesn't officially begin until the afternoon. That can be more than an inconvenience for those who have traveled many hours and/or through many time zones and arrive at a destination early in the morning.

When you present yourself at hotel check-in tired and in need of a shower and hear, "Sorry, your room is not ready yet," there are steps you can take. Not all of them will get you into your room sooner, but they can make the wait more productive and comfortable.

Need to stay in your hotel a little longer instead? Learn how to get a late checkout.

  • 01 of 10

    Suggest a Room Upgrade or Offer to Accept a Downgrade

    Two receptionists at hotel reception
    ••• Simon Watson / Getty Images

    If the hotel or resort has pre-assigned a specific room to you that is not available when you arrive, it's possible other rooms are clean and vacant. Take a chance, as a honeymoon couple, and nicely suggest that the hotel might want to upgrade you (without charge) to a more expensive room. Or if you're about to fall asleep on your feet, tell the reservations clerk you are willing to accept a room-level downgrade.

  • 02 of 10

    Stash Your Luggage

    Regardless of whether or not you leave the premises before your room is ready, ask the bellman, concierge, or front-desk clerk to store your luggage. Remove all valuables beforehand, and be sure to get a receipt. Not having to drag a week's worth of clothing around while you wait will provide immediate relief. Before you depart, freshen up in the hotel bathroom. And If you've packed an extra outfit in your carry-on, change into it before you go outside.

  • 03 of 10

    Request Early Check-In When You Make a Reservation

    While there's no guarantee your hotel or resort will honor this, if you make hotel reservations in advance, the request is in the system and rooms are available early—and you good-naturedly mention to the front desk that this is your honeymoon—there's a chance you can fly into your love nest that much earlier.

  • 04 of 10

    Use the Hotel Spa

    If the property has a spa, ask if you can use the facilities before check-in. If the answer is yes, you'll have a place to shower, have a snack, and perhaps even snooze while your room is readied. Some hotel spas offer "jetlag" treatments, and that could be just what you need to start your trip off feeling perkier.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Access the Hotel Business Center

    Check your email. Call or text home, and tell them you arrived safely. Write an e-postcard or thank-you notes to wedding guests. Surf the Web. Check your watch or smartphone. How much longer before you can lie down? Not yet? Play a video game. Time will fly. If there's no business center at your hotel, ask at the front desk for the wi-fi password and use the lobby.

  • 06 of 10

    Locate the Guest Lounge or Lobby

    Hotels are public spaces, and yours may have an area with comfortable couches where you can await your ready room. Alternately, ask if the hotel has a concierge floor. A fee is charged for access to these special areas. Inside, drinks and snacks are served, you can spread out and read newspapers and magazines, play games, and perhaps watch TV until they hand you a key.

  • 07 of 10

    Explore the Area and Get Something to Eat

    With your baggage safely stored, take a walk. Before leaving the reception area, ask for a map and have someone circle the street where your hotel is. Check out the neighborhood, and stop in for coffee, tea, or something stronger while you wait.

  • 08 of 10

    Go to the Park

    If your hotel is in an urban area, there may be a park nearby. Ask the concierge for directions, get a map, and pick up snacks along the way for an impromptu picnic. Find a park bench or velvety green patch and start unwinding from your travels.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Exchange Currency and Buy Stamps

    If you haven't gotten the local currency at your port of entry, need more, or hope to find a better rate, head for a local bank with an ATM to exchange currency. On your way, stop at a post office and buy some distinctive stamps to use for sending messages home.

  • 10 of 10

    Get a Recommendation

    The hotel staff knows the neighborhood best: Ask the concierge or front desk clerk where he or she would go if there were a couple of hours to kill. You might be near a world-class museum, a don't miss restaurant, or the coolest shop in town. So get a recommendation, allow your body to re-set itself to the local time, and do some discovering before you dive under your duvet.

    If you stay at one of the Conrad Hotels around the world and arrive very early, you can take advantage of one of its 1/3/5 Experiences. These are cultural, culinary, spa and other opportunities to get more out of a destination when you have a free hour, three hours, or five hours to kill before your honeymoon or romantic getaway "officially" begins.