Most of us worry about missing bookings when travelling—not arriving early for them. But sometimes flights arrive early or traffic lightens and you reach your destination faster. Unfortunately, most hotels will not hand over the keys to your room before your check-in time.
Early check-ins conflict with hotel cleaning schedules. Guests from the night before have until noon to check out, giving the cleaning crew a few hours to tidy. The availability of your room depends on when said guests leave and the cleaners finish. That said, you might have some leeway.
Ask for another Room If Available
If you know that you will be arriving early, give the hotel notice. Doing so might allow the staff to prioritize your room and prep it. Similarly, it might help them find alternate accommodations to fit your fast-tracked schedule.
The more flexible you are during an early check-in, the greater the chances of finding accommodations. If other units in the hotel are not booked, then the front desk can move you. But any special accommodations you requested in your first room will no longer apply. For this reason, consider how important it is to get in immediately.
If you just need to drop off your luggage, ask the front desk to keep it safe while you wait for your room. As well, if you need a place to work, walk into the lobby and ask for the internet password. Some hotels will even let you enjoy their pools and gyms to pass the time.
For killing several hours, ask if the hotel offers day rentals. In some cities, especially those with international airports, flights come in and out sporadically. Such hotels book in day and night increments to accommodate the travellers. So if you need a temporary day room, there might be something available.