Sometimes you might need to book a hotel very late at night or extremely early in the morning such as right after midnight.
In these cases, you might be wondering is it possible to book a hotel room so late and how would that work?
Below, I’ll take a look at how late you can book a hotel and some important factors for you to consider when doing so. I’ll even talk about how this can get you a discounted rate in some cases!
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How late can you book a hotel?
You can usually book a hotel at all hours of the night but you may be required to book over the phone or in person if you are trying to book a hotel for the “night” that began the previous calendar day. For example, if it was Saturday at 12:30 AM and you wanted to book a hotel for the remainder of that night, you may not be able to book online. Also, in some instances, you might be able to negotiate a discount with the front desk.
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Booking hotels very late at night can sometimes be difficult or impossible when you are trying to book them online.
The reason is that the online booking systems basically don’t allow you to book a room for a given night once you cross over a certain time threshold. This could be as early as the evening or it could be at or close to midnight.
So for example, if it is 1AM and you are trying to book a hotel room with Expedia for that night, you probably will not even see the option to do so.
You might have more luck using the hotel’s website when trying to book a hotel really late but even those will have a cut off at a certain point.
Tip: If you think the website is allowing you to book a hotel room after midnight be sure to pay extra close attention and double check everything because you might be booking for the next night. This happens way more often than you might think.
The time zone trick
Some people have been able to have success with changing the time on their device when searching for hotels after midnight.
Essentially, you push back the time to the previous day by changing your time zone and that might allow you to beat the system and book a stay.
I would be careful with this though because this seems like something that could introduce confusion into your booking. For example, maybe a hotel booking system still defaults your booking to the next night. Maybe your booking never goes through, etc.
So if you go this route be sure to confirm your reservation!
Something else to consider about booking online is that it can sometimes take a little while for your reservation to show up in the system. Nowadays, a booking should show up virtually instantly but sometimes it can take a few minutes.
And on occasion if you’re booking through something like an OTA, sometimes there is a serious lag and you might have to talk with someone at the front desk to track down your booking.
Tracking down a missing or “late arriving” booking is not always a quick process so this is one reason why you might consider handling your booking over the phone or in person.
Nothing worse than showing up really late to a hotel only to have to wait a long time while a stressed out night auditor tries to fix things.
There are several apps that specialize in offering last minute deals for hotels. These could be good resources to check out if you are booking really late. I’d recommend checking out: HotelsByDay and HotelTonight.
Booking in-person or over the phone
Instead of booking online, the best route will probably be to book over the phone or to simply walk-in and book your room in person.
Personally, I would recommend that you book over the phone because that could save you a trip if the hotel ends up being sold out.
But be aware: sometimes there is only a single night auditor working at the hotel’s front desk at around midnight.
If you arrive at the hotel while that person is off doing some type of random task such as tending to a housekeeping issue then you may struggle to access the lobby. They also may not be answering the phones.
Getting a discount on your reservation
One of the perks of booking a hotel so late at night is that you might be able to get a discount. The reasoning is two-fold.
First, at around 11PM or after, a hotel is not going to expect many (or any guests in some cases) to come through and book a room so they pretty much are going to assume that those rooms will be unsold.
Secondly, you are spending a lot less time in the room which means that you are utilizing the facilities less and probably will have less of a need for housekeeping.
Some hotels have something that they call a “Walk Rate” or “Fade Rate.”
These are essentially the minimum price levels a hotel would consider offering for the rooms when working out a deal with a potential customer.
When you are booking a hotel around midnight you might be able to take advantage of one of these Walk Rates. This is something you will have to do over the phone or in person since these are not usually visible online.
The best approach would be to just contact the front desk and let them know that you want to book a hotel for the night and are curious if they are willing to offer a negotiated rate based on the fact that you are checking in so late.
Certain types of hotels such as airport hotels may have more experience with dealing with a lot of guests coming in really late and so those may have systems in place for dealing with discount requests. Depending on the hotel, that could make it harder or easier to get a discount.
Checking in extremely early
In some cases, you might be able to check into a hotel extremely early which will allow you to stay in the hotel for the next night. This is essentially a two nights for the price of one deal.
If you are booking the room sometime around 2AM or 4AM this is like getting extreme early check-in.
Most properties will probably not allow you to do this so I would definitely not go around expecting this to happen.
But, it is possible that you could get lucky and a check-in agent could offer you this option if the hotel is at a lower capacity.
The earliest I’ve been able to check in at a hotel is around 6AM.
This was at an extremely nice property known as the Singapore Marina Bay Sands hotel so it’s definitely possible to do this at a five star hotel. Worth noting, I did not have any type of status with that hotel or any kind of VIP recognition.
Booking a hotel room very late is not always possible online but if you remain open to booking online or in person, you should be able to book a hotel room at any hour of the night so long as there is availability.
In some cases, you may be able to get a discount due to the fact that you are booking so late such as after midnight. And in very rare cases, you might be able to check in super early for the next night.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.