When you are pressed for time on a business trip, nothing can infuriate you more than a slow hotel check-in process. I've lived this a few times. You arrive a bit late for your meeting schedule and want to drop off a few bags and jump in a taxi. There's a line in the lobby, a clerk in "training," and a few crabby patrons causing a major stall. Need a work-around? On your next trip, try these hotels that offer a speedier check-in process.
1. Yotel New York
The self-service kiosks at this high-tech New York hotel are open 24×7 and work just like the ones you'd see at an airport. There are just five-steps to register and obtain your card key. There's even a robotic luggage concierge. You tap in the number of bags you're carrying and sizes, then wait for a robot arm to swing down and store your luggage in a locker (say, for a day trip). This also speeds up the check-in process if the first thing you need to do, like me, is head to a series of meetings.
2. Aloft Cupertino
Lately, I've been heading out to Silicon Valley about four to five times per year. On my next trip, I'm going to stay at Aloft Cupertino. The hotel offers a Smart Check-In system that's brilliant. You receive a Starwood Preferred Guest card prior to your trip. It's an RFID card that can unlock your room. When you arrive you can walk right past the front desk and kiosks. You press and hold the card on the door lock of your room to gain entry. One bonus: When I've stayed at Aloft hotels, the Wi-Fi is always faster than other hotels.
3. Marriott Detroit Airport
Another option for business travelers in a hurry: Marriott is rolling out its mobile check-in app to 325 hotels this year, including the Marriott Detroit Airport hotel. (I've tested the app itself but not for a real visit quite yet.) Here is the basic idea: you download the iPhone or Android app. The night before, you can "check-in" virtually. When you arrive, you get an alert that the room is ready and your key, which is already tied to your reservation, is waiting for you at the desk.
4. Hyatt Regency Minneapolis
I happened to stay at this hotel recently and liked how fast the kiosk check-in works. Like the Yotel, the kiosk asks you to insert your credit card, similar to an airport terminal. The whole process took about three minutes. When I left, I was equally impressed with the fast check-out. An agent meets you in the lobby with an iPad and asks for an email to use for a receipt. The big advantage: you never have to wait in line.
5. Radisson LaCrosse
The Radisson is trying to make the kiosk process even faster. At a few select hotels like the Radisson Lacrosse in Wisconsin, you use a mobile app to register and then receive a barcode by email or text. When you get to the kiosk, you scan the barcode to get your key without any other steps required. It's super fast. You can find this new check-in system at the Radisson hotels in Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Phoenix as well.