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10 Things to Do When You Arrive Too Early for Check-In

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In many locations, hotel check-in doesn't begin until the afternoon. That can be more than an inconvenience for those who traveled many hours through many time zones, arriving at a destination early in the morning.

When you present yourself at hotel check-in tired and in need of a shower and hear, "Sorry, your room is not ready yet," there are steps you can take. Not all of them will get you to your room sooner, but they may make the wait more comfortable.

1. Stash Your Luggage

Regardless of whether or not you leave the premises before your room is ready, ask the bellman, concierge, or front-desk clerk to store your luggage. Remove all valuables beforehand, and be sure to get a receipt. Not having to drag a week's worth of clothing around while you wait will provide immediate relief and make you feel less like a refugee.

2. Request Early Check-In When You Make a Reservation

While there's no guarantee your hotel or resort will honor this, if the request is in the system and rooms are available early — and you good-naturedly mention to the front desk that this is your honeymoon — there's a chance you can fly into your lovenest that much earlier.

3. Suggest a Room Upgrade or Offer to Accept a Downgrade

If the hotel or resort has pre-assigned a specific room to you that is not available when you arrive, it's possible other rooms are clean and vacant. Take a chance, as a honeymoon couple, and nicely suggest that the hotel might want to upgrade you (without charge) to a more-expensive room. Or if you're about to fall asleep on your feet, tell the reservations clerk you are willing to accept a room-level downgrade.

4. Use the Hotel Spa

If the property has a spa, ask if you can use the facilities before check-in. If the answer is yes, you'll have a place to shower, have a snack, and perhaps even snooze while your room is readied.

5. Access the Hotel Business Center

Check your email. Call home, and tell them you arrived safely. Write an e-postcard or thank-you notes to wedding guests. Surf the Web. Check your watch. How much longer before you can lie down? Not yet? Play a video game. Time will fly. If there's no business center at your hotel, or if it is tiny, ask at the front desk where the nearest Internet cafe is located.

6. Locate the Guest Lounge or Lobby

Hotels are public spaces, and yours may have an area with comfortable couches where you can await your ready room. Alternately, ask if the hotel has a concierge floor. A fee is charged for access to these special areas. Inside, drinks and snacks are served, you can spread out and read newspapers and magazines, play games, and perhaps watch TV until they hand you a key.

7. Explore the Area and Get Something to Eat

With your baggage safely stored, take a walk. Before leaving the reception area, ask for a map and have someone circle the street where your hotel is. Check out the neighborhood, and stop in for coffee, tea, or something stronger while you wait.

8. Go to the Park

If your hotel is in an urban area, there may be a park nearby. Ask the concierge for directions, get a map, and pick up snacks along the way for an impromptu picnic. Find a park bench or velvety green patch and start unwinding from your travels.

9. Exchange Currency and Buy Stamps

If you haven't gotten the local currency at your port of entry, need more, or hope to find a better rate, head for a local bank. On your way, stop at a post office and buy some distinctive stamps to use for sending messages home.

10. Get a Recommendation

The hotel staff knows the neighborhood best: Ask the concierge or front desk clerk where he or she would go if there were a couple of hours to kill. You might be near a world-class museum, a don't miss-restaurant, or the coolest shop in town. So get a recommendation, allow your body to re-set itself to the local time, and do some discovering before you dive under your duvet.
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