Because hotels overbook—both accidentally and yes deliberately—you want to avoid this major hassle, especially late at night, by showing up before everyone else has. Don’t worry in Las Vegas, where guests check in and out at all hours.
When checking in at better hotels, dress appropriately for your destination and age.
Like it or not, those who guard the doors of the best hotels, clubs, and restaurants are more likely to do favors if they think that you belong.
You do not have to wear a business suit when arriving at a top hotel in New York City, but cover yourself with something more upscale than while camping.
Check in with an American Express or airline frequent traveler credit card. Hotels see you as a person who may bring repeat business.
As American Express says, “Membership has its privileges.”
Treat hotel staff with politeness and respect.
Especially at first-class and deluxe hotels, do not ask for free upgrades especially if you are a Hotwire or Priceline customer, unless you hold top-tier status in a hotel's frequent guest program.
Hotel front desk clerks are quite jaded when it comes to these requests. After all, Hotwire and Priceline customers are likely paying far less than other guests.
INSTEAD of asking for free upgrades, politely ask how much it costs to upgrade to a "lake front," "partial ocean view," or whatever type of room you wish.
You may be surprised at how little it costs—and how often you are upgraded for free.
Partial ocean view rooms are often fantastic values.
For example, at the Sheraton Waikiki, I never tired of looking down the beach toward Diamond Head. What a contrast to looking out from a full ocean view room, with water all the way to New Zealand.
Take advantage of hotel secure storage facilities, instead of less secure room safes. Bell captains at better hotels can lock up large items, such as laptops, while you are away.
Prevent problems before arriving
Print out your confirmation and receipt (if prepaid) and take these with you to your hotel.
At some point, you will probably need to prove that you made a reservation that somehow became "lost" in a computer system.
After booking online, wait several hours and then call your hotel or resort and confirm that it received your reservation and that all is well.
Give your hotel any special requests you may have, such as a nonsmoking room or king bed.
The more in advance you make these requests, the more likely they can be honored.
However, wait until check in to deal with free upgrades. (See above.)