There are many reasons why you might have to leave a vacation early. However, if you’ve committed to a holiday at a hotel, can you just leave when you want and without repercussions?
You can check out of a hotel room earlier than your scheduled check-out time, but the exact process differs between hotels. Some hotels require an early departure fee, while others don’t. Typically, most hotels appreciate at least an advance notice to their staff.
This article will outline key factors to consider if the unexpected happens and you must leave a reserved hotel room earlier than planned. I’ll also shed some light on what might happen if you need to check out early.
Can You Check out of a Hotel Room Early?
Hotel check-out is when a guest, in this case, you, officially ends their stay at the hotel. The check-out date is typically determined when you book your room, and you usually have to leave the hotel on that day.
However, if you need to leave much earlier than planned, many hotels would like you to give them advanced notice.
This changes depending on where you’re staying, with some hotels not minding you leaving and some requiring a cancellation fee. On the bright side, many hotels just appreciate a polite heads-up before you leave.
This usually allows them to fit another guest into your vacated slot and cover their profits. However, some hotels still require you to pay an early departure fee.
What Is an Early Departure Fee at a Hotel?
An early departure fee is paid by a hotel guest that decides to leave before the previously agreed date on the booking. This fee varies between hotels, with some charging the cost of an extra day and others charging a flat rate.
Early departure fees are far from uniform between hotels, so it’s important to read the fine print when booking.
While it might seem unfair, hotels have good reasons for charging guests that leave early. One major reason is the differing rates for shorter and longer stays.
Some hotels give discounts for guests who book longer stays, so an early departure fee prevents people from exploiting the system.
If you are a rewards member at a specific hotel chain, you may have more flexibility for earlier and later check-out times.
What Is the Check-out Procedure in a Hotel?
The checkout procedure in a hotel usually involves meeting with the receptionist at check-out time to officially leave the hotel. At this point, outstanding bills like meal charges or postpaid room fees are settled.
A few things will happen when you approach the front desk to checkout:
- The receptionist will ask for your name and room number to pull up your reservation information.
- They will confirm that you want to end your stay and bring up any bills or late charges for you to approve and pay.
- Some hotels require clerks to ask you how satisfactory your stay was, usually with a paper or electronic survey. These are typically used to improve service, so don’t be afraid, to be honest!
The length of the checkout process may depend on the type of hotel. For example, hotels in metropolitan areas like New York City or Boston might be much busier and have a longer wait time.
It’s very important to be conscious of checkout times. Busy hotels, especially, typically only leave a few hours between check-out and check-in.
Consequently, guests staying significantly past the checkout time leave less time for cleaners to prepare the room for the next guest. Also, some hotels will charge you if you aren’t ready to check out within the allotted time.
Once you’ve checked out, you can usually organize a ride to the airport, train station, or even the next bus stop from the front desk.
However, it may save you some money if you request an Uber. If you’re concerned about ordering how late you can order an uber, you can get some guidance from this article.
Can You Just Leave To Check Out of a Hotel?
You can just leave to check out of some hotels. However, many hotels will appreciate at least a confirmation at the front desk. On the other hand, some hotels make checking out at the front desk mandatory, especially if the bill is not prepaid.
Again, it depends on the hotel. Different hotels have different policies. A hotel may require you to officially checkout at the front desk or via an express checkout.
Some might simply have you leave your key card in a box at the front desk, while others might allow electronic checkout on your phone.
Regardless, it’s generally considered polite to formally check out of a hotel at the front desk and inform the staff that you no longer need the room. Also, checking out in person allows you to double-check any mistakes on your bill.
What Happens if You Don’t Leave a Hotel Room?
If you don’t leave a hotel room on time, you might be required to pay a late fee. This can vary between hotels, with some charging very little to give you a few hours extra and some hotels requiring you to pay for a full day.
Hotel staff are naturally hospitable and usually allow an extra 15–30 minutes if you’re running late. Once you run too late, however, many hotels will have to charge you at least part of a full booking for the extra time.
Rather than fielding calls from hotel staff asking when you’re leaving, you can request a late checkout if you need a few more hours.
Usually, all you have to do is contact the front desk clerks, and it’ll be added to your bill.
Trips don’t always go as planned, and urgent commitments can force you to shorten your hotel stay. When this happens, checking out early usually isn’t a difficult process.
However, not every hotel will simply wave you off, and sometimes, you might have to pay an early departure fee.
On the bright side, this isn’t a uniform rule across the board. So, if you know beforehand that you might have to cut a hotel stay short, checking the hotel’s early departure rules before booking could potentially save you some money.