How hotels with early check-in and late checkout are breaking ‘tired’ 3pm-12pm standard in wake of Covid-19 pandemic – and hotel chains that have gone the other way

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Hong Kong-headquartered luxury hotel group The Peninsula is among those that have pivoted to a more generous policy. Peninsula Time is available at all its hotels (now totalling 12 across Asia, Europe and the United States), allowing guests to check in from 6am and check out up until 10pm without extra charges.
The Peninsula New York, in Midtown Manhattan. Photo: Shutterstock

“As many companies did during the pandemic, we looked at where friction points may lie with our guests, and check-in and checkout times was one of them,” says Carson Glover, vice-president, brand marketing and communications.

“For us, it was the perfect time to enhance the guest experience by eliminating check-in and checkout times at all properties when guests book direct or through their preferred travel partner.”

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The Hoxton, which has 11 boutique hotels in cities across Europe and the United States, allows guests to choose their own check-in and checkout times around the clock, at no extra cost, when stays are booked on its website.

“We introduced Flexy Time in 2020, with the goal of maximising the value of a hotel stay and giving guests full flexibility at a time when travel faced many challenges,” says chief operating officer Rob Andrews.

“This approach breaks the tired, outdated rigidity of 3pm check-ins and 12pm departures – timings that never feel particularly convenient.

The Hoxton hotel (left) in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Shutterstock

“To date we have granted thousands of complimentary early check-ins and late checkouts [such as to] those fresh off a red-eye in desperate need of a shower and a snooze.”

A front runner was another Hong Kong company, Dorsett Hospitality International, which piloted 26 Hours at its home-based hotels and then extended the policy out to properties across Asia and Australia.

This allows guests to check out a full 26 hours after they check in when a stay is booked direct. If you check in at 4pm, you can check out up until 6pm on departure day – regardless of the length of stay.

The Dorsett Singapore. Photo: The Dorsett
The Standard, which operates nine hotels in Thailand, the Maldives, Australia, Europe and the US, offers Standard Time “check in and out whenever suits you” at four of its properties.

“We’re fortunate to be in a position where most of our hotels are over 90 per cent occupied, which makes implementing Standard Time a little trickier than initially envisioned,” says Amber Asher, chief executive officer of Standard International.

As such it’s only offered at the US properties – in Miami Beach, and East Village and High Line in New York – as well as in Ibiza, Spain, and is subject to availability.

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Whether its Singapore, Melbourne and Lisbon hotels opening in 2024 will offer Standard Time will be determined on a location-by-location basis.

Standard Time, Flexy Time and 26 Hours must all be booked 72 hours ahead of arrival. At The Peninsula, Glover says: “For Peninsula Time to work, it is important that our guests share with us their arrival and departure plans of their stay – that will allow the operations team to manage the rooms inventory.”

Dorsett offers early check-in from 7am and checkout up until 11pm.

A guest takes a room key card at the check-in desk of a hotel. Early check-in and late checkout is now offered at hotels around the world, but the service comes with logistical challenges. Photo: Shutterstock

“We assign one to two housekeeping attendants for early duty to make up the rooms for early check-in guests,” says Yi Li Dawson, director of brand marketing at Dorsett Hospitality International.

In Dorsett’s British hotels, however, the early check-in and late checkouts are 11am and 6pm, respectively.

“In London, where a significant number of long-haul flights arrive early in the morning, there are operational challenges such as timely turnaround of rooms by housekeeping which can complicate room allocation and checking inventory, making the process more time-consuming,” Dawson says.

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Several hotel chains pushed back their check-in times from 3pm to 4pm because of extra cleaning related to Covid-19 pandemic measures.

The Pig, whose boutique hotels are based in mostly rural locations across England, was one, but factors other than Covid-19 were involved in the decision.

“Our hotels have many rooms away from the main building, be that in stable yards, cottages at the end of drives and hop picker huts and wagons nestled in gardens – this calls for lots of movement of staff, equipment and therefore time to get the rooms perfect for our guests’ arrival,” says Fiona Moores, group operations director.

The Pig at Combe, in Devon, is one of the hotel company’s rural English properties. Photo: The Pig

“These times are fairly standard across most UK hotels,” Moores adds. “We are super flexible so it’s not as rigid as one might think.

“As our early guests arrive we move the team and resources to prioritise those rooms, so really 4pm is just worst case scenario.”

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