I recently got back from a hotel and found the keycard for the room still in my wallet. Ooops! I’m normally a stickler for checking out of a hotel and it got my wondering why I normally bother. So do you actually need to check out of a hotel? I did some research below to learn some more.
No, you do not have to check out of a hotel, particularly those connected with large chains. It is however useful to do so, as it gives you a chance to fix any anomalies with your bill and allows the hotel to get the room ready early for the next guest.
Checking out is an afterthought for most hotel visitors. It’s the final thing you need to be ready to go home. Knowing what not to do at check-out and adequately preparing for it, on the other hand, may transform a potentially tense scenario into a simple “thank you and goodbye.”
With that said, what can you expect if you don’t check out?
Reasons Why Should You Check Out of a Hotel?
Here are a couple of reasons you should check out of a hotel.
Additional Charges on Your Bill
If you leave a hotel without checking out, you may miss any extra charges made on your account, whether correct or incorrect.
Once in a while, people notice an erroneous charge on their final bill, and if you don’t double-check it, it may be a long and unnecessary process to get it fixed.
Here are a few ways it can go wrong:
- Another guest could accidentally charge a restaurant meal to the wrong room number, or have the same name as you meaning a mistake gets made
- There are hotels with weight systems under items you would like to purchase, such as minibars and snacks. When you lift an item from a hotel minibar, weight sensors are triggered, and your room is automatically charged. Sometimes these charges go through even if you just lifted the item to look at it first and then put it back after.
- There have been occasions where a meal has been charged late to a room, meaning you could pay for the previous guest’s dinner if you haven’t reviewed the bill
- You could also be accidentaly charged out for an extra night. Let’s say you made a mistake when booking the room and didn’t notice when you checked in, checking out is the chance to get that fixed before a bill for an extra night comes through to you.
Showing Courtesy to the Next Guest & Staff
If you are leaving the room early anyway (to catch a flight for example), checking out lets the room get prepared for the next guest, meaning if they arrive early then they can access the room before their allotted time.
Some hotels work on a strict communication policy in terms of checking in and out. If you do not check out, housekeeping will not know that your room is available for the next guest.
Given the pandemic and the new rigorous cleaning methods, cleaning crews often need extra time for cleaning, so taking the time to check out really supports them to do the job in time.
As you’ve left anyway it makes no difference to you if the next guest is let in early, but it could be a huge relief to the next person who may have had a long journey or have a tired young family in tow. The only difference between the two scenarios is you taking a couple of minutes at the reception desk to let the hotel know you’re leaving.
If You Want to Check Out Early or Late, Here Are Some Ways to Help
Here I list some ways to help you check out of a hotel smoothly, but also some tips to make sure you don’t have any bill anomalies if you do check out early.
How To Check Out Of A Hotel
Let’s start with the basics, what does checking out of a hotel actually mean?
Check out is a simple process. It involves going to the reception desk, handing in your key and having a quick look over the bill before it gets confirmed. Many people do this to ensure they formally le the hotel they’ve left, double check their charges and to get an itemised receipt if required for business expenses.
Some hotels also have an online check-out system and these have become much more common due to restictions put in over the Covid-19 outbreak.
Checking Out of a Hotel Early
It is very common to check out of a hotel early, to catch a flight or hit the road to get to the next destination.
If you wish to do this it is good practice to inform the hotel the night before, or in the morning as you leave so you don’t end up with mistaken charges on your bill.
Even if the hotel doesn’t have a formal expedited check-out policy, I’ve requested to ‘pay the bill’ the night before when I knew I’d need to leave early the following day, and they’ve made arrangements to expedite my departure.
Even if you don’t tell the hotel, your key will be cancelled usually around an hour after you leave.
Checking Out of a Hotel Late
If you need to check out of a hotel room late then the best tip is to let the hotel know as soon as possible, even in advance of your stay if you can.
Hotel managers can often support a late check out of up to two hours just by moving the order of rooms due to be cleaned so yours is due last, meaning the room will still be ready for the next guest. When you bear in mind that one housekeeper is usually assigned to clean around ten rooms, you can see how a change of schedule can really help you if you let the team know.
Don’t expect it this to always be the case though with variable such as number of housekeepers working that day, how full the hotel is the following night and number of guests wanting a late check out all factors in how lenient the hotel will be.
If you don’t let them know that you are checking out late it can cause lots of confusion and put the cleaning team behind. You will likely get a knock on the door or a call from the reception desk asking you what’s going on and the more assertive hotel managers may end up charging you for an extra night very quickly if you’re not careful.
Some hotels also let you pay extra for a late check out, but again, the sooner you talk to them about this the better, as there may be limited available each day.
Tools to Find Great & Cheap Hotel Rooms
It might seem obvious, but many people will use a big website like Booking.com before doing a simple Google search. I prefer going straight into Google as it pulls rooms from a number of different sites and has a number of filters to narrow down your options.
Use Booking.com Genius Program
Booking.com are the biggest travel booking website in the world and if you haven’t signed up to their Genius loyalty program, then do it now!
Below is a screenshot from my account and you can see thanks to my loyalty I not only get 10% off bookings but also free breakfasts and room upgrades.
So once you’ve used Google to find the place at the right place, then use your Genius account to get even more money off.
Call The Hotel Directly
I often find that the hotels will match online prices if you book directly with them as it saves commission.
If you have a particular chain of hotels you like staying with then they often have in-house loyalty schemes that you don’t be able to access if you book with a hotel search engine, so there are benefits to booking direct.
Hotels do not need you to check out; however, while it may seem inconvenient — especially if you’re in a hurry — it may help you address any billing problems (face to face is always best) and allow the hotel to prepare your room for the next guest promptly.