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There has long been an interest among frequent travelers to do away with check-in and checkout times completely. Red-eyes typically get you to a destination between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.—and the average check-in time is around 3 p.m. That’s at least six hours of time spent patiently awaiting a fresh shower in your hotel room. In response to this persistent challenge, The Peninsula Hotels will, as of January 2021, be among the first five-star hotels to introduce flexible check-in and checkout times.
Their offering, officially called “Peninsula Time,” originally debuted at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, and stipulated that guests could check in or out at any time, for no additional fee. Come January 2021, Peninsula Time will be offered at all 10 of The Peninsula Hotels around the world. The flexibility is all part of their commitment to provide a “superlative guest experience”—because nothing provides ease to travelers like not having to worry about check-in and checkout logistics. And, of course, there’s distinct luxury in being able to indulge in an extra few hours of hotel room bliss. As The Peninsula Hotels team puts it, “when [guests] book a room, suite or villa, it is theirs for one night—even if they check in at 6 a.m. on their arrival date and check out at 10 p.m. on their departure date.”
As long as guests book directly or through a travel advisor, they can take advantage of the flexible check-in and checkout times. Gareth Roberts, group director of brand and operations support for The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, which owns and operates The Peninsula Hotels, suggested that the time felt right to offer this perk. Between the challenges the hospitality industry has faced amid COVID-19, and the extra layer of logistical nuance an ongoing pandemic adds to our travel schedules, simplicity in check-in and checkout times is especially poignant.
“Especially now that travel has become somewhat more challenging, we understand that extra time is one of the most meaningful gifts we can provide to our guests,” said Roberts. “By letting guests arrive earlier and stay longer, we hope to provide them with greater peace of mind—and an even more personalized experience.”
Because peace of mind and relaxation is, indeed, what most travelers are looking for when they plan a hotel getaway to relieve stress. And while the occasional boutique hotel is sometimes willing to accommodate flexible checkout, it’s less common among well-established luxury hotel brands.
Joining the ranks of hotels offering flexible checkout over the last few years, however, are noted wellness brand Capella Hotels & Resorts and The Hoxton, the London-based hotel group owned by Ennismore. The Hoxton sought to eliminate check-in and checkout times altogether with their Flexy Time offering. For The Hoxton, it was a matter of unconventionality and refusal to conform to hotel norms. Their philosophy is that, for the most part, if guests can come and go as they please, things will even out. And while that occasionally means getting a guest who arrives for a reservation at 12:01 a.m. on the day of their reservation, it’s a rarity. At Capella Hotels & Resorts, flexible checkout is part of the relaxation approach at their properties across Asia, Europe, and Australia. Capella is all about tailoring the experience to each guest, and that includes allowing them to check in and out at times that suit their schedule and needs.
Peninsula shares the sentiment of offering flexible check-in and checkout as one more way to personalize each guest’s stay. That personalization element is a common theme throughout The Peninsula Hotels’ new flexible offerings, which also includes relaxed cancellation policies. They will allow guests, as of January 2021, to cancel their reservation up to the day before their stay and have waived all cancellation fees for group bookings or events, with the awareness that most families are traveling only within their household for the moment. The result? A more relaxed, luxurious, and to borrow The Peninsula’s term, superlative hotel experience.