While check-in time is never a problem as hostels have 24-hour receptions, check-out time is a more controversial topic in the hostel world, no matter how big or small the hostel.
Generally, checkout time goes from 9.30 to 12, but it can vary depending on the hostel organization, cleaning service, and number of beds/rooms. As a traveler and a hostel resident, my personal ideal checkout time is between 10:30 and 11.
The most frequent problem is that many passengers “read” the checkout time as the time to wake up, have breakfast, take a shower and only after doing all these, they leave the room. So it’s important to be clear to your guests during check-in, while reviewing hostel rules.
Many hostels include the checkout time on their websites. This is a good idea, because your guests can plan their itinerary, like when to catch a train, in advance. And a later checkout time option could be a reason to choose your hostel.
Another issue regarding checkout times is what to do if your guest doesn’t leave the room at the agreed to time. Should you wake them up? Should you let them sleep and then charge an additional fee? Of course, this is up to you, and managers should use their best judgment. But the important thing here is that everything must be clear from the beginning. This will prevent your guests from being surprised by a knock on the door or a late fee. You want to maintain and friendly, calm and fair environment (which can boost positive customer reviews).
Lots of hostels have a “late checkout” option, with which they charge guests an additional fee to stay later, or they may wave the fee, if the guest asks if the can stay late in advance. But here we have another issue. Does the guest need to leave only the room or the hostel? Do we allow the guest to continue using the rest of the hostel’s facilities? Again, clear communcation is the key. Maybe if you’re going to charge the guest for late checkout, he or she can stay in the room for 4 or 5 hours more and also use the hostel services. But if you decide that everyone must be checked out by 12, you let the guest know that’s the deadline, but you provide a closet for guests to leave luggage, in case they have a flight, train or bus later that day. This is something backpackers really appreciate.
Be careful with reviews!
Very often, you will find in guest reviews that guests complain because they were not properly warned about the checkout time or that they consider the checkout time to be very early.
That’s why it is important to take into account that most of our guests are young, relaxed, unhurried people on holiday. They don’t want to stay at a hostel, where they feel like their parents are waking them up early for school.
On the other hand, you need to organize our checkout time to make sure rooms will be clean when the next guests arrive!
To sum up, be flexible and kind while providing clear information in advance regarding limits, so your guests can make choices and plan accordingly.
So… What’s your opinion? Which would be your ideal checkout time?