Letting people in before check in time?

Our check in time is at 5pm (yes, I know it’s late, but we have jobs and it’s the only way we can make it work). Still, over 80% of booked guests asks to check in earlier.

Some people even show up in the mornig, without notifying us, expecting to be able to check in.

Some days and during the weekends I’m able to let people in earlier when they arrive to drop off their luggage. The problem is, some people are not only dropping of their luggage and leaving, they want to change clothes, use the toilet and some people even start cooking, which makes the cleaners job very difficult. I’ve even had people taking pictures of the not ready apartment and after complained the apartment was dirty and untidy!

I feel I should give people the opportunity to drop off their bags early whenever possible, but in the end I’m not getting much credit for it. It’s just a lot of extra work and hassle and not many people are giving us credit for it when they write their reviews.

Any thoughts?

My check-in is 5 pm. No early check-in, no late check-out, or baggage drops. People so often say if you give an inch, people try to take a mile. My pre-arrival messages are polite but firm, particularly when guests request any of these. I have declined what looked like a good booking, after a guest tried to bully me into a 12 md check-in, so they could get ready to attend a wedding here. I called Air to say what I was going to do, got them to read the message thread, and had their total support sent in writing.

The only bit I find hard to control is people who tell me they will arrive between my check-in window, when they have clearly planned not to, and arrive at 11.30 pm.


5:00 PM is too late and you are going to continue to have this problem unless you change your check in time. Even then, though your issues will be less, they will hardly be eliminated.

That being said, just don’t allow early check-ins. As you’ve come to see, guests don’t really attach much value to it, and it’s often a big inconvenience for hosts.

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As mentioned, 5PM is 'way late for check-in, and you’re gonna continue to have the problem unless the first page of you listing description says

The OP said that he has a job, and this is the only way he can work it. Perhaps Joa provides accommodation in his home, not a separate unit or remotely. Whilst I agree 5 pm is late for an entire rental, if you offer rooms in your own home, no it’s not!

I have been up since 6 am. I have got Mr Joan off to work in London, provided breakfast for six guests and checked them out, fed the cats ten times and medicated them; I’ve turned over three double bedrooms, cleaned two bathrooms, two landings and two staircases. I’ve cleaned the guest dining room, the kitchen, loaded the dishwasher and done three loads of laundry. It’s one pm and I haven’t touched our own rooms yet. I have a large garden to tend, it’s 32C and I need to clean up myself before guests arrive or I will an uninviting stink.

There are lots of different ways that people host; one size doesn’t fit all.


If more than an isolated guest or three mention the same problem, then I always suggest that the solution is to change what the host is doing. You cannot force people to like or do things that are either counterintuitive or simply awkward.

There is a setting to not allow bookings back to back - it allows you to create a one day or more space between checkouts and checkins. Perhaps that will allow you to clean etc and then go to work that next day knowing that guests can arrive at 3pm for example and you are not frantic or inconvenienced.

A keypad lock and a camera would also solve the issue of checkins that might need unlocking the door etc.

If 80% of your guests find this very check in a problem, you will need to solve it quickly or else your bad reviews and low ratings will cost you much more than the cost of a spare day here and there or a one time cost for a lock.

5 p.m. is certainly not too late @Chloe for check-ins.

Airbnb says post 3 p.m. For many of us who work and want to do a personal check, it needs to fit with our other commitments.

For over a year and a half I had check in post 6.00 until I was confident enough of my guests and my check in system to install a lock box. Now I have moved check in time to post 3.00 and don’t offer same day bookings.

I provide guests with details of left luggage facilities and nearby cafes/restaurants and of local attractions they can visit if they arrive in the morning/early afternoon.

I never had a problem with people trying to do early check ins


Hello @Joa

I NEVER let guests in before the checkin time.
Here’s some things I would suggest for you:

  1. put it in your house rules that checkin is only available after 5pm. That way they’ll have to agree to it before booking
  2. make a template welcome message confirming the checkin time and send it straight after they book. Then make another template to answer the famous question about luggage advising them of nearby facilities (maybe train stations?) etc that they can drop luggage.
  3. you said you have an apartment. Can they get in the building without you being there? You can have a luggage holder with a lock outside your apartment so they can put the luggage in without entering the apartment. What I do is I let them drop their luggage on the ground floor of the building underneath the staircase. I simply say to them: “Unfortunately dropping the luggage inside the apartment before checkin is impossible because the previous guests would have the keys/or the cleaning staff will be in (myself lol). You can drop the luggage at the ground floor of the building, though its not secure and we’re not responsible for any damages/loses. There are also this this and this facilities that provide safe luggage holding“

Until now, they all dropped it inside the building without any problems.

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Just to add I also have people asking for early checkin even though my checkin time is 2pm!!! Some lady 2 days ago said: “We arrive at the airport at 8am so we will be there at 9am. If its too early we will need to drop our luggage” …

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Do you need any other reasons not to let people in early?:joy:


Hi, Joa. You said “It’s just a lot of extra work and hassle…” and that struck a chord. I, too, was doing something for guests that was a lot of extra work and hassle and getting no credit - in fact getting dinged stars, as you are (in your case for the unready space, in mine because more people - the people they begged to be allowed to bring along - were sharing the space). So I stopped doing it. Stood firm. I know that sounds simple, but it was, I am ashamed to say, a full two years before I saw the easy fix. If something isn’t working, stop doing it. Hope it works as well for you as it did for me.


I feel tired just reading this. Clearly, I’m a layabout. But I suppose people do work hard in the UK. If they don’t belong to the royal family, that is.

BTW, is there something the matter with your cats, or do they just like eating frequently? Disclaimer: I don’t know any cats personally, though I’m an admirer, from a distance.


Is self-check in possible for your unit? Could save some headaches if the unit is actually ready. But as others have said, best to just be firm, you may want to highlight that in your listing. 5:00pm is a little later then most would be expecting if they don’t read.

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My listed check-in time is 4 pm, but it’s more an indication than a strict rule. I usually try to be flexible, but draw the line at anything earlier than 1-1.30 pm, though I have had people turn up around noon. But I try to discourage that. Partly because it becomes problematic trying to turn the room over from the last guest (assuming there is one).

But one really does need to post a check-in time, because otherwise people will just assume that they will arrive anytime. And it’s not a bad move to made it a bit later than you are actually willing to check-in. It gives you a little wiggle room, and an easily earned appearance of flexibility.


5pm is categorically NOT too late for check in in a homestay. (I think other hosts here are perhaps thinking of self contained listings). I have been doing check in from 6pm for 3 years. Sometimes I do early check in if work allows and there’s a good reason. Otherwise I just recommend several nearby pubs and cafes they can wait in. Where’s the problem? I have hardly ever had problems with it.

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I’m a bit like faheem in that I have a check in time (3-8) but do frequently allow early check in. Often this works for me as if I have everything ready and guests arrive at 1, I have the rest of the day free and am not hanging around waiting for people to arrive.

If people ask for very early check in, I say, quite honestly that we have guests until 11 and that I need two hours to prepare their rooms. I do allow early bag drop off but just in the hall so no sneak pics possible :see_no_evil:

I like to think a bit of compromise is a good thing as long as guests aren’t taking advantage. As Airbnb travellers we have also occasionally asked for a bit of flexibility with check in and out times too :blush:

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My house rules are clear:

You MUST let me know your checkin time (anytime after 3pm is ok) at least 2 days prior.

Sorry, for legal reasons no bags can be left before or after checkin.

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I’m unsure what the relevance of the laundry list of activities was, but yes, we’re all busy.

It appears that different listings in different areas of the world attract guests with different expectations in terms of check in. I host rooms in my home, not in a separate stand alone rental. For me, 3PM seems to be the very latest that the majority of my guests expect to be able to check in. 2PM would be more ideal, but yes, that would complicate things in terms of my cleaner’s schedule.

When I opened 3 years ago I worked from home, could be flexible with check in times and greeted my guests. Now I work outside the home and often don’t get home until 6PM. Instead of changing my check in time, I worked things so I could offer self check in. I installed keyed locks on all BR doors plus my garage and basement where I don’t want guests. I removed any small items I cared about from the common areas of my house. I installed a keypad lock on the front door. Lastly, I have template letters that greet guests when they arrive telling them how to find their room and giving them the most important info, as well as telling them they’ll find a guide book at the foot of their bed to tell them everything else.

My point is that many hosts can figure out a workable way to allow self checkin if they give it some thought.

The question of self check in for homestays has come up a few times here. The thing is it’s just fine not to do self check in, and to meet and greet instead, even if that means an evening check in. Hosts don’t need to give it any thought unless they want to. Many of my guests have a meeting or excursion during the day, and have no need of a daytime check in anyway, particularly during the week. Host choice all the way I say. I recently had a case decided in my favour by Airbnb for a guest who attempted early self check in contrary to arrangements by following another guest into my house. Evicted without refund. Too right!


The point is @Chloe that people can host in the way that works for them and if hosts aren’t comfortable doing self check, then they don’t need to figure out a way to do something they don’t want to do.

I’m sure it wasn’t your intention, but it came across as a little patronising to tell established hosts they can do self check in ‘if they give it some thought’, as if these hosts hadn’t thought through the options before deciding what worked best for them.