5 min read

Hotel Checkout Hacks: Skip the Rush & Know the Drill

Ever sprinted through a hotel lobby, suitcase in tow, wondering if you missed some crucial check-out step? Let's unravel the mystery—no more checkout-chase for you, savvy traveler!

Tobi Miles
September 13, 2022

The advent of technology has streamlined the old methods of traveling. For example, you don't have to carry a printed boarding pass. Therefore, you shouldn't be surprised that most hotels don't make it a rule for customers to follow a check-out process. So now, the big question is, do you have to check out of a hotel when leaving?

No, you don’t have to check out of a hotel when you’re leaving. Hotels don’t require you to formally checkout; however, it’s necessary to check out of a hotel because hotels need to know when their rooms are available, so they can clean them and prepare them for the next guests and rectify any errors in your bill if necessary.

You are generally expected to check out with the front desk when leaving a hotel. This is to ensure that the hotel has an accurate record of when you vacated your room and to settle any final charges that may be due.

In some cases, such as if you are in a rush or have an emergency, you may be able to arrange for an express check-out, where your bill is left in your room, and you simply drop your key off at the front desk on your way out.

Why Do You Have To Check Out of a Hotel?

While you don't necessarily have to check out of the hotel, especially if you're trying to beat the time, there are many reasons why you should formally check out of a hotel. 

1. Checking Out Is Courteous To The Hotel Staff

Checking out of a hotel is the right thing to do. However, some hotels (especially those not associated with chains) still require you to check out at the front desk before leaving.   

As soon as you let the hotel staff know you are leaving the hotel, they’ll inform the cleaning staff, so they can prepare the room for the next guest who will be lodging there.

So, leaving without informing the hotel staff might leave their schedule in disarray because they're trying to accommodate guests who (unknown to them) have left the hotel.

It's essential to ask questions at the front desk, especially if you are unfamiliar with the checkout process. In addition, checking out shows your respect for the hotel policies and staff.

Related Read: Can You Live In A Hotel?

2. Avoid Additional Charges 

Many hotels are known for adding hidden extra charges to your bill. Sometimes, it is unavoidable, but you still have to check to be sure you're not being charged for a service you didn't use or you're not charged the bills of another room because hotels usually make the mistake of charging the wrong room.

Sometimes, the guests can write down the wrong room number, and the staff might be careless enough to post the charges without proper cross-checking.

Another likely occurrence is that you might be charged for an extra night at the hotel, and you will need to demand a lock interrogation to dispute the charges. Disputing the charges after you've left a hotel is quite difficult. 

Overall, checking out of a hotel will help you review your account and ensure that there are no unauthorized charges. So always check and dispute the charges and take an updated copy while you check out. 

3. Not Responsible For Damage Done After Check Out

Sometimes, hotel properties might get damaged. But, it is a problem when you are held responsible for damage you didn't cause. So it is essential to check out of a hotel after your stay. You're not liable for any damages to your room after departure when you check out.

Anyone is likely to come into your room and make a mess out of it or damage something. Since the hotel staff is not aware of your departure, they'll assume that the damages were done by you and may have to include the cost of the damages to your bill.

Checking out of a hotel will help you address whatever needs to be addressed on the spot. And give you peace of mind that every business with the hotel has been settled. 

Related Read: Can You Rent A Hotel Room For A Few Hours?

Can You Check Out of a Hotel Early?

Generally, you can check out of a hotel earlier than intended. While you'll have to check in when you arrive at a hotel, you can choose not to check out formally when leaving the hotel early. Especially if you've already paid for your reservation. However, there are some exceptions to this.

Every hotel has its unique policy on checking out early. As such, if you want to check out of a hotel days before your reservation is due, you may get a refund from your hotel for the nights that you didn't use.

Some hotels may charge you for cutting your reservation early. You should check your hotel's website to learn about their early check-in policy. You can also meet the hotel's management for further explanations.

Can You Check Out of a Hotel Late?

You can request a late check-out from your hotel management. The hotel may permit you to check out late if your reasons are genuine. Otherwise, hotels usually frown at guests who delay their check-outs.

This is because another guest may be on the waiting list, and you may be delaying hotel cleaners from preparing the room for other guests to check in. However, some hotels have flexible check-out times, which you can capitalize on.

It is not uncommon to have the reception desk call you to remind you of your check-out. Most hotel check-out times vary. However, between 11 am and 12 noon is typically the average check-out time for some hotels.

If, for some reason, you overstay your check-out time, the hotel may request that you pay an extra fee for every hour that you overstayed. Or even for the whole night.

Related Read: How to Book a Hotel After Midnight

What Happens if I Leave a Hotel Without Checking Out?

Nothing will happen. However, you risk incurring extra bills for yourself if you didn't formally check out, especially if you're checking out days ahead of your due date. While this is rare, it is a possibility. 

If you're checking out earlier than your due date, you should consider informing the front desk of your decision to avoid further charges. You may even get a refund for the days you're not going to stay.

However, leaving early in the morning on the day of your check-out will make little difference if you leave without notifying the management. Additionally, it is courteous to let the hotel know that you're checking out so that cleaning staff can promptly go and tidy up your room for other guests.

If you're in a hurry to catch a flight or for other reasons, you can leave your room key with the front desk and ask them to do the check-out for you as you're no longer occupying the room.

Some high-end hotels have made checking out a lot easier. For example, you can check out electronically through the hotel's booking app or website or use the TV remote in your room to check out. You can also call the hotel management to let them know you've checked out and ensure they check you out in the system.

Related Read: Can You Vape In A Hotel Room?

Do I Have To Tell The Hotel I’m Checking Out?

You don't have to tell the hotel you're checking out formally. Still, for the sake of formality, courtesy, and the possibility of having extra charges added to your bill, you should notify the hotel when leaving.

First, you'll be helping the management to call in cleaning staff to prepare the room for the next guests. Then, you have to spare a couple of minutes to notify the front desk on your way out that you're leaving.

In addition, it’s worth noting that sometimes the hotel charges the wrong room bills meant for someone else. So if you check out formally, you may notice some unauthorized charges that have been added to your bill.

You can easily dispute it at the front desk and have it removed from your bill. However, it'll be difficult to dispute the additional charge after you've left or when you're already far away from the hotel.

What Is The Checkout Procedure at a Hotel?

In simple terms, checking out involves going to the hotel's reception desk to hand over your key, cross-check and confirm your bill, get your receipt and leave. Most times, the checking-out procedure will not take you more than a few minutes, except if there is a queue of other guests who are also trying to check out.

However, queues during check-outs are especially common during the holiday and festive seasons. Alternatively, and if available, you can choose to check out online through the hotel's website or booking app and have your receipt sent to your email.

You can also use the TV remote to check out. If you're planning on leaving the hotel in a hurry the next day, consider running a check-out the night before you leave.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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