Do You Even Have to Check Out of a Hotel?

hotel lobby

These days, everything seems to be streamlined. You don’t even have to go to a car dealership anymore in order to purchase a car, but can instead purchase it online from the comfort of your own home, all while wearing pajamas and sitting with your feet up. As such, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a lot of hotels are now allowing you to leave without a formal checkout process. However, that isn’t always the case. If you don’t know whether or not you need to formally check out at the hotel where you’re staying, it could inadvertently wind up costing you extra money.

The Traditional Hotel Check-Out Process

Traditionally, people have been expected to formally check out with the front desk whenever they leave their hotels. It’s important to note that some hotels, especially those that are not associated with chains, still expect their guests to do exactly that. In fact, you usually have a deadline to check out by, typically 11 a.m.. In many cases, hotels that still require a formal checkout process will charge you for another day if you don’t formally check out by the designated time. If you’re running a few minutes late, it might be possible to call the front desk and explain your situation so that they give you an extra 15 or 20 minutes without charging you for another day. However, failing to check out at all or not communicating with the front desk could end up meaning that you’re paying for an additional night’s stay, even though you’re not actually going to be present in the room. When you consider the cost of most hotels these days, that’s probably not something that you really want to do.

A Streamlined Process

In some cases, the checkout process has become so streamlined that there’s nothing truly formal about it whatsoever. Some hotels even allow you to check out electronically through a special app on your phone or even by selecting a specific control on the television in your room. That streamlines the checkout process, effectively allowing you to leave the premises without standing in line to speak with someone at the front desk. You simply log on, select the option that you are checking out, leave the key in the designated area and you are on your way. In some cases, certain hotel chains no longer require a checkout process at all. Instead, they prefer to slide your bill underneath your door the night before and then add any additional charges to the credit card they already have on file as needed. Of course, many of these types of major hotel chains are also moving to an all digital process.

As opposed to sliding a paper bill under your door, they may have your bill reflected on an app you can access from your phone. Alternatively, they may require you to register for an electronic account when you put your credit card on file for your initial stay. From that point on, all you have to do is go online and login. From there, you can see all of your charges and any other pertinent information that you need to know about. This effectively eliminates the need for any type of formal check out process. In short, it streamlines things for both you and the hotel staff. All things considered, it’s relatively easy to see why so many hotel chains are moving in this direction. Many of them were doing so before the pandemic. They are even more likely to do so now, especially given the fact that a number of them are struggling to maintain adequate staffing.

It’s All About Manners

There has been a lot of debate lately regarding whether or not failing to formally check out is considered rude behavior. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any end to that debate. Having said that, it all comes back to where you’re staying. Many people who travel all the time have repeatedly stated that they either leave the key on the dresser or in some cases, slide it into a special receiving box that is in the foyer of the hotel. After that, they walk away. In other cases, this type of behavior is considered unacceptable. As previously mentioned, there are still hotels out there where this type of behavior would effectively get your credit card charged for another day. In these cases, the front desk wants to see your face and have you confirm that you are indeed leaving or they will charge you for not checking out by the predetermined time.

Regardless of where you’re staying or what method you decide to use to check out, it’s important to let someone know because the cleaning staff has to come in and clean your room in order to prepare it for the next guest. If you don’t tell anyone you’re leaving, this can throw their entire schedule off. They have enough to do, so they don’t need to be running around trying to accommodate guests who aren’t even there, just so they can go back and catch those rooms later on as if they have nothing better to do. At the end of the day, your best bet is to ask questions at the front desk when you check in. If you’re not familiar with the hotel and you don’t know exactly how the checkout process works there, don’t be afraid to ask them. The front desk, and practically everyone else who works there, would much rather you ask about the checkout process as opposed to just assuming and getting it wrong. By the same token, the fact that you’re asking shows that you have enough respect for the hotel staff to extend to them the common courtesy of formally checking out if that is what they require. It’s just good manners to do so and it could end up saving you a lot of hassle as well.

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