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If I were to book a hostel in Europe for a night, at what time during the day (before that evening) would I be able to check in and avoid having to carry all my junk when sight seeing?

I know this may be different is different from hostel to hostel and even country to country. But at this point, I just need a general guideline to get a rough idea for my schedule.

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Have you searched? The answer is 2pm is usually a customary time to check in in a hostel or hotel, but as you said it varies, it can be as early as 12pm and as late as 6pm. But there is no rule, this question is likely to be closed. Searching at least one hostel would give you a rough idea. –  Vince Sep 17 '13 at 9:23
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I agree with @Vince: every hostel has its own check in time. Moreover, usually every web site specifies the allowed check-in time in the description of every hostel. –  shard Sep 17 '13 at 10:25
    
Which parts of Europe? There are plenty of hostels that don't have an official check in time, especially when they're not full, at least in Eastern Europe. –  hippietrail Sep 17 '13 at 10:49

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Typical "earliest checkin" times are between 12:00 and 16:00 - but if your concern is luggage, it's not really relevant as pretty much all hostels and hotels offer to safely store your luggage for you before checkin and after checkout.

Some Hostels additionally have personal lockers, since dormitories are more or less publically accessible, so you don't want to leave valuables in them.

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Some hostels have a special luggage room for this. Some hostels charge to use it. With some hostels the staff will put your luggage in, with others they will take you in, with others they will give you key and let you do it yourself. In the last case there is a chance of bad backpackers stealing stuff. Everything is worse in high season, which is coming to an end right about now. –  hippietrail Sep 17 '13 at 10:54

If you're booking online (eg hostelbookers, hostelworld) the confirmation email almost always tells you what time check-in is (and checkout).

However, I've found that usually, most popular hostels accommodate that you may be arriving on an early flight or train, and will let you leave your luggage there and come back when the dorm/room/bed is ready for your check-in. However, again, check their site - for example many of the YHAs in North America charge for the use of this room.

Generally, however, people leaving have to check-out some time between 10am and 12pm, depending on the hostel, then cleaning happens (some places insist you not be in the dorms during this time) and new arrivals can check in some time after this - often from 12pm, 2pm or 4pm, roughly. Again, it'll depend on the hostel, it's not a country-by-country rule.

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It's not a country-by-country rule but in my experience it correlates with the national culture. In some countries such as Germany things must be done according to their rules. In other countries they take things as they come. The former countries tend to have later check in times and earlier check out times. Also messy or poorly kept hostels have fewer rules or are more likely to ignore their own rules. YHAs tend to have more rules and tend to stick to them. But these are all just tendencies and can't be relied upon 100%. –  hippietrail Sep 17 '13 at 16:34
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@hippietrail You read my mind, I brought up the country-to-country point because of cultural differences –  MarkE Sep 18 '13 at 6:37

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