Is it considered uncouth to check in early into a hotel?
I usually never early check into budget hotels. In relatively more expensive hotels (3-star or higher) I feel that it's appropriate to check in early, but not in cheaper hotels or hostels.
I don't know if my policy is correct or not, but sometimes I might run into problems if I'm arriving somewhere around 11:00 AM whereas the check-in time might be 2:00 PM. Would it be considered uncouth in either case (expensive vs. cheap) to request an early check in beforehand?
Does the appropriation of this differ country by country?
It differs from one hotel to another, the best thing to do is always tell the hotel in advance, they will tell you if it is ok or not.
I do not think so, many flights reach early and people will be tired, so they seek early check in.
Early check in is fine virtually everywhere. What is not fine is checking out late. There is only a small window of time for housekeeping to ready the rooms for people coming in the following afternoon...such as yourself.
If I remember correctly, I have seen at least one hotel which, in the online registration, offers early check-on or late check-out for an additional fee.
London (UK) hotels, even expensive ones, don't seem to let you check in early for free. I guess too many flights arrive from North America in the early AM.
I worked in a variety of hotels and hostels when I was a young backpacker and student. The simple answer is that it comes down to availability of rooms (or beds if you're staying in a dormitory).
Most hotels will post a check-in time of around noon to give them time to get at least some some rooms ready for the earlier arrivals, but even that should never be considered as a guarantee of getting into a room.
A typical hotel has just enough housekeeping staff to turn over all rooms in a day. Typically the rooms which are checking out (a full turnaround) are done first, followed by rooms which are staying (more or less just a tidy up). So if everyone turned up to check in at exactly 12 noon, then most of you would be waiting.
There is nothing "wrong" with arriving early, that is before the stated check in time, it's just that the chance of a room of the type you booked being ready diminishes the earlier in the day you arrive.
The worst that will happen is that they will usually offer to store your luggage for you while go you about your business. Reception will usually give you some indication of when your room will be ready.
If you really need your room (e.g. to shower and change), just explain your need and they may be willing to swap you to a room which will be ready sooner, or possibly even offer you the use of a room which is vacant but not yet made up specifically for the purpose of using the bathroom. It never hurts to ask politely and see what they can do for you.
It's great to hear an opinion from a person with some first hand experience! I guess, I shall change my ways. Thanks a ton! ^_^
I had exactly that happen once in Brussels... we arrived before check-in, but needed to use the restroom. One of the maids let us into one of the vacant, but un-cleaned rooms while we waited to check in.
@Flimzy: If it's just for the restroom, many hotels have a "public" (well, for anyone who has business with the hotel) restroom in the reception area that is not connected to any room (as the reception sometimes doubles as a bar, and also because more so than early arrivers, the reception area is regularly occupied by checked out guests that have already given back their keys, yet have to stay for an indefinite amount of time to wait for their airport shuttle or similar services).
@O.R.Mapper: That's often true, but many budget hotels/hostels don't have such facilities... since they don't have a bar or restaurant.