Early check-in charge: Tips & Tricks

How is the early check in charge adopted by some Vegas hotels going to affect you? It’s a trend but not a rule, and you may well be spared when you arrive; it depends on occupancy rates, on the type of booking you have, on whether you booked the cheapest rate and, of course, the level of luxurious resort or room you have booked.   In any way, you will find that some resorts will try to charge you the early check in fee.  If you are comped, some resorts will allow you to check in early; this was our experience at Excalibur, for example; but not necessarily Caesar’s Entertainment Group, where – in our experience – some resorts are more ‘strict’ than others with this early check in fee. Nonetheless, this is what we do to avoid it:

We already know that most hotels, including the ones in Vegas, will allow you to check out late for a fee, which we usually avoid  (because we are frugal) by checking out, leaving the luggage with hotel and picking it up later, just before going to the airport or our next destination. As per early check-in, since most Vegas hotels have thousands of rooms, it is usually been easy to check in early and, sometimes, by doing so, we could pick the room or suite closest to our needs! We have often ‘shown up’ early at hotels, especially when we move from hotel to hotel and, though a nuisance, we’ve managed to do this quite well without paying a penny.

However, it seems to be common experience that some Vegas hotels at least (such as Flamingo or Harrah’s, but many others as well) will give you the option to check in early (even in the morning!) for an additional charge. It seems that, if you request an early check in when you book, this charge may be unavoidable; if you happen to show up early in person, without pre-warning, some hotels may indeed add the early check in charge regardless; therefore, make sure you ask before you move into your room so early! More likely than not they will give you the option to pay for it or to wait until a room is ready. I have actually taken the time to phone personally the hotels named in different Vegas forums and basically, the official position given to me seems to be that, if you want them to guarantee that you will be able to check in early (some hotels have a 4pm check in, which is ridiculously late), there will be a $25 dollar charge (plus taxes).  This fee varies but that’s the average charge.

The logic behind it is understandable, in that if check in time is 3pm or 3.30pm (any later begins to be unreasonable, in my opinion) there is usually a reason (cleaning and organizing the rooms); at the same time, if everybody checks in at the same time it can be truly unpleasant chaos so, staggering arrivals is always desirable for all involved. Ultimately, if you enjoy your hotel room hours before the regular check in time, it is almost understandable that an additional charge is applied. Personally, I would rather be allowed to check out at 12 or 1pm and endure a later check in somewhere else than having to leave my hotel room at 11pm (as some make you do), especially after having enjoyed the Vegas nightlife! Ironically, the Vegas hotels with an early check-in charge are the very same hotels with mandatory early check out! Now, how ridiculous is that? It seems to me that, under the slogan of ‘choice’, visitors end up paying for every move they make. I think it’s awful and it’s really different from what Vegas has been and should continue to be. After all, let’s not forget that most visitors will drop hundreds of dollars in their casinos!

What to do: Whether this charge will take place or not will depend on the specific hotel you are checking into. We have never experienced it; even in during our latest trip this year we have check into almost all the resorts, most of the time at 12 noon, and we have never been charged. In fact, we have found most resorts quite pleasant about allowing us to check in early. The key is to look sure of yourself, presentable and polite (namely, like someone who is likely to drop nice amounts of money in their casino) and, more often than not you will be allowed to check in early, if it is possible (perhaps not so during peak traffic times, of course). However, as I said, some svisitors eem to have been charged by some Strip hotels; you therefore need to wise up and do your research before you book with a Vegas hotel. It is always worth making a phone call and asking all this information directly (even without booking, as an informative anonymous ‘chat’ with the reservation centre, as we have just done) or, if you prefer to do everything online, that you read all the small print before you book (but sometimes you just won’t find this information unless you ask directly).

If you need to check in early for whatever reason and you are set on a specific hotel, which tends to charge for early-check ins, I would advise that you consider just leaving your luggage with the hotel, go to lunch and come back later; if you can’t go to lunch because you need to use the dining coupons that you are given at check-in, you may wish to consider using the pool (some hotels don’t ask for the key when you enter their pool area) or even pay for a day at the spa or gym (the gym is usually even cheaper). I would do the latter if all else fails; this because the day spa entrance (or gym entrance) is often as much as the early check in! This way you have a day pass for the spa of gym (with all the freebies in it!) and you’ll have a great place to relax and unwind. Most spas have resting areas as well as lounge areas where you can have free teas, coffees, juices and fruits: I would say it’s a much better use of the 25 dollars you’d spend for the early check in. Of course, if you are 4 occupying one room it may still be cost-effective to pay for the extra charge; but, if you are travelling solo or as a couple and both of you enjoy the spa or the gym, following my suggestion may be a better option for you.

Note on leaving your luggage with various resorts’ bell desks: some resorts now charge if you leave your bags for longer than 24 hours. It has been our experience (though we had our charges waived after talking to casino marketing), and it is always advisable that you ask and read the fine print on your ticket (the ticket you will be issued by the bell desk) before merrily walking away from your bags.

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