The Check-in Process

As Westerners, and specifically Americans, we are used to the American hotel honor system: reserve the room with a credit card, check-in and stay for the length of the reservation (or longer), and pay upon leaving. Sweet!  We even get to wait until our check-out to settle the costs of any incidentals such as beverages and snacks consumed from the “honor” bar (the mini refrigerator stacked from top to bottom), meals delivered to the room, movies selected from the various cable TV channels, and so on. And I shouldn’t forget― anything we accidentally broke or lost that belonged to the room.

However, In China, the rules for a hotel stay are a little different.

China hotel lobby desk

When checking into a hotel in China, you must:

Verify your identity and pay first
You’ll need to: 1) present your passport; 2) pay the full amount for the entire time you expect to stay at the hotel; and 3) pay a deposit. If nothing is removed from the honor bar (where available), taken from the room, or broken you will receive the full deposit when you check out. This system is customary for everyone. It’s not just for foreigners.

Keep your receipt for check-out
It is a good idea to always keep your receipt when you check in, as it will assist the hotel staff when you check out. You can still check out without it, but it is good for you to have the information.

Remember that forgotten personal items aren’t a total loss
If you leave something in your room, the cleaning staff is very good about telling the front desk, so you can retrieve your belongings.

Being prepared with a little insight about China’s hotel check-in process will go a long way in making your check-in and hotel stay a much more relaxed and pleasant event.


Learn more in my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education