What do home-share hosts do about middle-of-the-night arrivals?

I have seen some old topics about this but was hoping to get some fresh perspectives on it since it’s a recurring issue in my AirBnB. I have check-in hours set from 3-10 pm. Very often I get guests who don’t arrive until after that time due to their flight times. I’ve always been flexible and allowed late check-ins since I have a smart lock. I’m starting to realize that arrivals after midnight are having a negative effect on my sleep, as I’m either sleeping lightly in case they have issues getting in or I get woken up when they come in because my bedroom door is so close to the front door. I don’t mind being woken up so much if I don’t work the next day, so would consider late arrivals on a case by case basis.

How do folks here handle late arrivals in a home-share? I’ve never wanted to be so strict as to say no check-ins after hours, but I think it is rude to assume you can enter a person’s home after midnight without checking first. Most guests just message me the day before saying that they’ll arrive after midnight and they hope it’s not a problem. That sounds more like telling than asking, because at that point what can I say—Get a hotel for the night and I’ll see you in the morning? :roll_eyes:

I wonder if it would help if I add something to my house rules or welcome message stating no late check-ins without prior approval and all check-ins must be before midnight? That way they have a chance to cancel before it’s too late. Sometimes I offer early check-in for a $25 fee, and I could do the same for late check-in after midnight. Do some hosts really ask guests to stay in a hotel for the first night if they can’t show up within the check-in window? That seems like a guaranteed way to get a bad review and have a hostile relationship with a guest.

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When I did home share I went in my room, turned on the white noise and went to sleep if I decided to open booking for a night when I worked the next day. But I would turn up the phone and have it right by my bed so they could message me. I had a couple of nights of disrupted sleep but that was the price I had to pay.

It’s tricky to try to have different check in times on different days. I wish Airbnb had simple custom settings for each individual day.

Our official checkin hours are 4 to 10 p.m., but we’re flexible. We’ve had guests arrive at all hours.

I stay up. I’m a night owl anyway.

Self checkin doesn’t work in our house. It’s a big house. They’d never find their way around. Especially not for the one room for which the bathroom is on the opposite side of the house.

We do allow repeat guests to self checkin.

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We have an Airbnb in our downstairs basement, so we live onsite as well. I’ve noticed that the great majority of our guests arrive late at night. We offer self check-in and as of now don’t have a strict check-in window other than that they can arrive anytime after 3pm.

I’ve used Air’s check-in guide tool to make a VERY detailed description - with photos - of where to park, where to find the entrance, how to use the keypad, etc. Although people can always surprise you, I really have no idea how anyone could use the check-in guide I provide and still be confused about how to get into the space. Hasn’t happened yet anyway.

This is the language I have included in my listing. I mention this in the house manual as well as in the house rules:

“We are very responsive between the hours of 7am-9pm, but will be hard to reach in the middle of the night. We suggest that you take this into consideration when planning what time you are checking in or out.”

SO FAR, this has worked for us. I struggle with enforcing a stricter check in window because most of our guests are one nighters who are just passing through for the evening and often arrive late. That’s just the nature of where we are located and what type of stay we offer. I think our guests appreciate the flexibility and I feel like I do my best to offer that flexibility while still making them aware of the risk they are taking if they do try to check in later.

Every host’s situation is different. Having this Airbnb is a “side gig” for my husband and I, and we always put our comfort (in this case sleep!) over anything. If I had to be on call 24/7 to help guests that can’t handle my simple check in instructions, being a host wouldn’t be worth it to me.


maybe try going to 3-8, so 2 hours late is 10 pm, and not midnight.

Most of my guests are driving here from metro areas 4-6 hours away, so my (self) check-in is stated as anytime after 3pm. Most arrive by 11pm when we’re still awake. If not, they have the code and clear instructions. Our bedroom is next to the front door/hallway, so any late night coming and going might wake me (not my SO. He sleeps like a rock!). That’s not limited to check-in day; folks coming back from the bars at 2am also wake me. I don’t want to impose house curfews, so that’s just part of hosting to me.

If you want to prevent them, I think you’ll need to require guests arrange an arrival time at booking and cancel anyone who expects to arrive after 10pm.

Once you’re a day or so away from their arrival, I agree it’s too late to do much. You’re put in the tough spot of enforcing your check-in times (and getting a bad review) or losing sleep. Having a fee for after hours check-in might take the sting out of it for you, but will also irritate guests. (Review: “After our delayed plane finally landed, we got our luggage, rental car, and made it to GardenFairy’s place it was 11pm. Host made us pay $40 before she’d let us in.”)

Yes, some hosts do enforce their check-in hours (as is their right). That may have been more workable back when reservations cancelled on arrival weren’t able to leave reviews.

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Pretty much what I was thinking:

“Our flight was delayed 3 hours due to local weather conditions. We were tired and hungry but we got our luggage and rental car as fast as we could. When we messaged the host to say we were on our way, we were told it was too late to check in so we had to find a hotel at our expense. We spent an hour trying to find a hotel room but everything was booked. We ended up in a dumpy motel 2 hours away. I wish I could give this host and this listing less than 1-star."

I have check-in from 3 - 10 p.m. @GardenFairy - actually i am quite happy to have people up to midnight but stating up to 10 means I don’t get people asking for a post midnight check in. I am a light sleeper and like you would worry about people finding their way around my house in the earlier hours.

I also have it in my house rules that people must provide a check in time on booking. I would say about a third do, a third don’t but respond on chasing and a third I have to get Airbnb to chase.

I would never leave to till the day before, or just before arrival to find out what time someone is planning to arrive. As you say by then it is too late to say no to a late check in.

If someone wanted to arrived at say 8.00 a.m.or 2 a.m. in the morning, I am then in a position to ask Airbnb to cancel the booking as this can be done soon after booking rather than at the last minute.

In situations where there has been a genuine emergency such as a delayed flight I will either wait up or allow self-check in.

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I’m trying to see both sides here. OTOH, I agree that I don’t like things like late check in fees and a one-off, guest has no control should be dealt with with hospitality, not hostility. Two years ago our arrival in Costa Rica was delayed by 8 hours and instead of a pleasant 8 pm check in arrived at 2 am (to a hotel desk clerk at a small family run hotel). If I’m flying internationally I try to plan according to not disrupting my host and I also buy trip insurance. Is there any responsiblity of the guest to simply not book a place like GardenFairy’s if they will arrive late?

I agree with this and don’t have a house curfew and just have to deal with being woken up sometimes with latecomers. Although sometimes annoying, I’m less concerned about this as I would have already met the guest, but it’s a bit more uncomfortable having a stranger arrive middle of the night for the first time and wander around my house.

Exactly the reason I no longer offer early check-in. I used to allow early check-in for $25, but people either didn’t take me up on it and were hoping to check in for free, or they seemed annoyed with the extra fee, so I just removed this option all together.

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Thank you @Helsi. Sounds like we have a similar mindset on this manner. I also chose the 3-10 window to allow some leeway for those who need an extra hour or two, which I’m fine with.

Do you have instant book on? That would be the easiest/only way to get Airbnb to cancel penalty-free, right? Since I don’t have instant book on (and won’t do it), it would depend on which CS agent or case manager gets assigned to the case if I try to cancel after accepting a reservation. I spend enough time writing guests to confirm they agree to the house rules and are not smokers, so this would be one more thing to chase guests down for, but like you said, it’s better to ensure it’s not a problem before we get so close to the arrival date.

Absolutely, if they know. But sometimes you just can’t know with travel, (especially international travel as you point out with your Costa Rica trip). I was only trying to exaggerate the situation with the hypothetical review above. When my travel is delayed significantly, I know I’m tired, hungry, and generally grumpy.

Still, maybe those situations are actually rare if you can prevent the guests that know (or should know) that they can’t make it in time from booking in the first place. E.g. the guests whose plane lands at 9:55pm and your listing is a 1-hour drive from the airport and check-in ends at is 10:00pm.

We have listed check-in between 4-6PM.

We only allow “late” check ins under special circumstances (there is one flight from Milwaukee which doesn’t arrive until 10:30PM), but we don’t advertise that fact. We only discuss it if guests ask.

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I guess everyone has to start somewhere on the road to becoming a “savvy traveler.” No way I would have booked a room in someone’s home going to Costa Rica unless the listing clearly said “separate space, check in at any time.” And when we went, we scheduled to arrive one day and go the next day to our week long VRBO rental. Returning we went back to the capital city, back to the small family run hotel, and then flew out the next day.

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My AirBnB is in an apartment block in which the majority of apartments are managed as self-contained hotel rooms. So the company has a receptionist there from 8am to about 8pm. After that the main door is locked and requires a key fob to access. I provide the key fob to the guests of course which is availabl when they check in.

My normal checkin time is from 3pm to about 8pm when reception is manned so the guests can get it, go to my apartment and enter using their code on the deadbolt.

I had guests check out on Christmas Day and others check in! Reception was closed earlier not surprisingly.

Not wanting to have go and meet the guests on Christmas Day and take me from my family party, I worked out a mechanism where I could leave the key fob that opens the front door “under a door mat” figuratively speaking. It was a completely not obvious location but the guest found it fine. I got this inspiration from two AirBnB’s I experienced as a guest in France.

In Paris the key was in a lock box behind a grill on the window of the apartment. The host emailed me the code to the box on the day of the checkin but the hardest part was getting my hand through the grill, to the lock box and manipulating the dials.

In Avignon the house was in a block of 4. The windows to all the houses at the rear were shuttered and locked but for one house (the one we had booked) the shutter was not locked. We were told to slide the shutter open and the key would be behind the shutter!

Normally I would not put the key fob in an exterior location but it worked well and the times I will need to do that will be minimal and saves me a drive down to the apartment at early hours to meet guests.

I always book entire space with self check-in, so I have no basis to comment, but I concur with those who suggest accommodating late arrival guests who may be having a less-than-ideal travel experience.
For self-check ins with lockbox, hidden key, or “go to the bodega for pick up,” good instructions and good lighting are so helpful; travel unknowns can be stressful and “key anxiety” is just an added negative, especially when alone in a strange location at night. Worn out keys that you have to jiggle through multiple unlocking attempts are especially nerve-wracking to me.
I did once have to crawl around a dark porch in New Orleans with my cell phone light looking for a key “under the chair on the right.”


In Paris the AirBnB location was not obvious from the address at all. The Uber driver could not find it. Luckily I had the phone number of the host and Uber driver called the host and got clarification (in French of course) and we eventually found the place. Turns out the address pointed to the street location but the actual location was down an alley. And that was not obviouis at 10pm

Our check-in hours are between 4 and 7 pm. Late check-ins have never been a problem for us. Our problem has been guests wanting an early check-in. Perhaps, changing your hours to earlier might be helpful. That way people can plan accordingly.

The problem is when they don’t plan at all…

That’s the whole problem with this situation! Setting earlier check-in hours will only make things worse as I’d have to make more exceptions.

I agree with @annettestacy that early check-ins are also problematic, but it’s easy for me to say no to those without any repercussions.

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