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I am traveling with my wife and son (infant) to London from Dubai. The flight lands early morning (6 am) and hotel check-in time starts at 3 pm. I contacted the hotel and they refused to accept an early check-in. What are my options to spend 5 - 6 hours after a tiring journey? I am looking for a place where we can relax a bit.

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    Either paying for the previous night, or asking them to keep your bags, and heading to the nearest MacDonalds. Some run down hostels might charge per hour, personally I would not want to be there alone, much less with an infant. – Rui F Ribeiro Mar 16 '18 at 10:36
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    Plaza Premium have arrivals lounges in T2, T3 and T4. You'll have to pay, but it'll let you shower, eat breakfast, maybe even have a nap in a chair in the corner – Gagravarr Mar 16 '18 at 10:48
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    Otherwise, book another hotel for "day use" for the day. Bunch of hotels around Heathrow do fairly reasonable day use rates, Hilton and Accor websites will let you check, or see a broker like between9and5 – Gagravarr Mar 16 '18 at 10:49
  • @Gagravarr The problem is that by the time you add taxis and the daily use of the hotel, it may make more sense paying another night and not moving hotels... – Rui F Ribeiro Mar 16 '18 at 10:57
  • @RuiFRibeiro No need for taxis - almost all the heathrow hotels are in the "Heathrow Free Travel Area" so you can take a local bus for free to get to them – Gagravarr Mar 16 '18 at 12:03
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Your options might be either paying for the previous night, or asking them to keep your bags, taking care of the room registration, and heading to the nearest MacDonalds.

Some run down hostels might charge per hour, personally I would not want to be there alone, much less with an infant. You might consider paying the full previous night in a cheap B&B just to try to rest a bit.

The problems I see is that by the time you add taxis and the daily use of another hotel, it may make more sense paying another night and not moving hotels. Furthermore, you also have the added annoyance of dealing with luggage twice.

However, usually in the mornings people will be running all over the place for breakfast and with heavy luggage for leaving, also cleaning crews, and then the preparations for lunch time, so I doubt pretty much you will be able to sleep before 0300PM.

Considering you will be checking out of a big airport, get transportation to the center of London, and then go through the bureaucratic motions at the hotel, or even wait for a room, I would say that you wont get a room much before 0930-1000AM. You also will need to wind down from the trip and from jet lag, so again you wont be able to sleep/rest much.

At the end of the day, if it might mean only spending a couple of hours at a MacDonald´s, and winding down over a cup of coffee in a relatively family friendly environment, I would probably do it ( I did it last time I was in Manila with my wife ). If in a big chain, you may also linger for a while in their premises/lobby/coffee shop while making time.

Nevertheless, as a first approach, I would still try to secure a room at a discounted rate for the previous night. They will probably say they have the same expenses with you sleeping on it the full time or only part of the allocated time, which is mostly BS as for instance, often corporate rates are half of the full price - make it clear that if they do not offer a good discount, you are not getting a room at full rate. It might work if they are not fully booked; you might have more changes of getting that if asking to talk with the manager on duty.

  • its sad that check-in time of London hotels starts from 14:00 until 23:00, nothing mentioned about guests arriving after midnight and early morning – Abdul Hannan Mar 16 '18 at 11:29
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    @AbdulHannan Not only in London, I would say it is much pretty standard in Europe...one of the last times I was in a hotel here, check-in was only after 0400PM, which clearly is borderline abusive. – Rui F Ribeiro Mar 16 '18 at 11:32
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    @AbdulHannan When do you expect guests to check out? There has to be a gap between check-in and check-out time in order for the rooms to be serviced. – Berwyn Mar 16 '18 at 11:40
  • @Berwyn Guests do not all check in and out at the same synchronized time. For an airport or business hotel, a significant fraction of guests will leave before 7 am. If you turn up at 8 am, the odds are in your favour that a room will be found (even if it's not the best one). – Calchas Mar 16 '18 at 22:29
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    @Calchas I know, I've checked in at 8am before, but I've not found it very commonly available and extremly rare to be offered it in advance. I've had to wait until 16:00 or 17:00 to check in and I stay at the same chain of hotels 200 nights a year – Berwyn Mar 16 '18 at 22:36
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In my experience, if you are staying at a large chain hotel, particularly an airport or business hotel, it is quite possible to be checked in very early in the morning. There are very few guests checking in at this time, but lots of guests checking out, and the hotel only needs to find you one room.

At worse, the hotel will take your luggage from you and put it in the luggage store.

I am struggling to remember any time I was refused an early check in---a few years ago in Dubai I arrived at the hotel at 7 am or so---I remember was on the first train of the day from the airport---and the hotel asked me to use the pool for an hour while they found me a room. I was in Buenos Aires a couple of years back and similar story, but that time hotel found me a small room for a few hours until a suite was ready. 95% of the time though it's not been a problem for me.

If you're staying at a small, non-chain property or a family B&B, these places tend to be much more strict with check in times.

  • I was also offered waiting by the pool once (or twice) too.In our last stay at a big-chain Chinese 4-star hotel,while my wife was clearly feeling unwell (we were both recovering from food poisoning),they demanded we checked-out at noon;I negotiated a half-rate for them to allow us to keep the room for the rest of the day, but my wife did not want it. They kept our luggage for we to enjoy the rest of the day,and allowed us to linger in the lobby for the end of the afternoon until we left for the airport Being allowed to check in earlier or later is also pretty culturally dependent too. – Rui F Ribeiro Mar 17 '18 at 4:52

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