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The traditional hotel check-in procedure is fairly universal: A queue of luggage-dragging people line up in front of a person at a computer, who will check their ID and swipe their credit card, and then hand them their room keys. It’s a process that works, and it exists basically everywhere. But some hotels are trying to make their check-in routines a whole lot more interesting by offering creative new ways to get you to your room. Here are some of our favorites.

RELATED: The most unusual hotels in all 50 states

Hu Hotel

Photo courtesy of Hu Hotel

Hu Hotel: Memphis, TN

After a long and tiring journey, you could probably use a latte. At this Memphis spot , an actual barista checks you in, and offers you a cafe menu! Guests who arrive in the morning can grab a specialty Memphis-made coffee and a pastry, while individuals with a later arrival can enjoy a complimentary classic cocktail, delicious small bites and sweet and savory treats.  

ARRIVE: Wilmington, NC

At this Wilmington, North Carolina boutique property, guests check in at The Library, where they can pick up a board game or book to read while visiting.

Le Blanc Los Cabos: Los Cabos, Mexico

Since it’s a wellness resort, Le Blanc greets you with coconut milk, fresh aromatherapy infused wet towels and a hot neck pillow from the spa. Did we mention a butler assigned specifically to you will be there to greet you?

Moxy Washington DC

Photo courtesy of Moxy Washington DC

Moxy Washington: Downtown DC

Moxy’s new DC location opened this spring. In good weather, the hotel’s floor-to-ceiling windows are left open so arriving guests can walk through the “wall” and into the fantasy land of a living room that is the lobby. Guest’s find no check-in desk, but rather a four-sided bar. Check in and receive a token for a coffee, cocktail or ride on “Trigger,” a throw-back mechanical horse, the kind you rode as a kid outside the grocery store. The bar is stocked with made-in-DC spirits.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort: Aruba

This property updated their arrival experience a few months ago—both physically and service-wise. Guests are now greeted curbside by their personal concierge. As they walk into the lobby, they receive a glass of Champagne from the new Champagne service bar before their private concierge escorts them directly to their rooms, checking them in via tablet.


Photo courtesy of Bode

Bode: Chattanooga, TN

Guests receive a text prior to arrival and have the option to “‘check in” at the Hub or head straight to their room with the code received via text. Easy peasy!

Hotel Lincoln: Chicago

Guests who are feeling lucky can try their hand at an upgrade at this Joie de Vivre property in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. At check-in, front desk attendants play blackjack with guests and the stakes are high—you could win a room upgrade!

Salamander Resort & Spa: Middleburg, VA

Guests checking in at this unique resort on a Friday or Saturday have a chance to enjoy cocktails with Cupcake, a miniature pony. Located in the heart of Virginia’s horse country, the resort embraces its rich equestrian backdrop by bringing Cupcake inside for pictures and meet and greets during afternoon weekend check ins. You can also purchase a Cupcake Cocktail to sip alongside the adorable pony.

ALSO: What’s just as rewarding as free perks at check in? Orbitz Rewards, the free travel program that rewards you on every trip!

The House: Barbados

Designed to mimic the ultimate beach pad, guests arrive to The House’s lush courtyard and open-air living room where one thing is noticeably missing—a check-in desk. Instead, one of The House’s 24/7 service ambassadors will welcome you with a glass of Champagne and take you right up to your suite. It’s that easy. Once you’re settled, they’ll show you to the spa where you can schedule your complimentary 30-minute jet-lag revival massage. Ahhh!

Waldo Emerson

Photo courtesy of Waldo Emerson Inn

Waldo Emerson Inn: Kennebunk, ME

At this Maine spot, guests check in at the 266-year-old “keeping room” and greeted by a staff member offering warm cookies, given a history of the house and shown unique attributes like original beams with axe moldings still holding up the house, etchings in the original windows by past residents from the 18th century and 200-year-old tiles surrounding the fireplaces. Then comes the kicker: an introduction to the five spirits still living in the house, just in case they are encountered during their stay. This is all before you’re even shown your room.


Photo courtesy of Noelle Hotel

Noelle Hotel: Nashville, TN

Check-in at Noelle happens at the Keep Shop, a boutique that showcases Nashville’s creative side. For instance, as you check in, your eyes may wander to the custom Stetson hat (exclusive to Noelle).


Photo courtesy of the Source Hotel + Market Hall

The Source Hotel + Market Hall: Denver

At check in, guests at this new hotel in Denver’s trendy River North (RiNo) neighborhood get a complimentary taste of local—and freshly brewed—Colorado beer. New Belgium Brewing actually brews beer in the hotel lobby, and there’s a tap right at the hotel’s front desk to have a tipple when you’re doing things like handing over your credit card. (New Belgium Brewing’s 10-barrel brewing system focuses on small-batch, artisanal creations, which are only available at the hotel’s signature rooftop restaurant and bar, The Woods.)  Guests of the hotel can also book a private tour or “brewer for the day” behind the scenes experience for an additional fee, but the tasting is free.


Photo courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: Scottsdale, AZ

This property’s theme this summer is Superhero Summer, where each kid at check in gets a cape and mask and a tote with Superhero H2O. They can also visit with lobby dogs, Bixby, Gibbs and Delia.

The 404 Hotel: Nashville, TN

This boutique hotel offers invisible service, meaning there is no lobby, no check-in, no front desk. Lest you think the lack of human service is in error, be assured guests receive a personal code ahead of time that allows access to the hotel’s front and back doors, as well as their room.

JW Marriott El Convento Cusco: Peru

The check-in experience at the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco is anything but traditional. Guests are personally greeted and escorted to the Nina Soncco Lounge, where they are invited to sit by the fire and sip coca tea, a typical medicinal infusion brewed in the Andes to help guests adjust to the region’s high altitude.

Hotel Clermont: Atlanta

The boutique-like Hotel Clermont in Atlanta offers guests a complimentary can of PBR at check-in (for those 21-and-over, of course). The hotel, which was dramatically revamped and reopened in 2018, is located above Atlanta’s infamous Clermont Lounge, a kitschy strip club, which still operates under separate ownership (and is also famous for its beer cans).


Photo courtesy of Curtis Hotel

Curtis Hotel: Denver, CO

This property dedicated to pop culture encourages all guests to “Stay Happy.” When guests check into the Curtis, they will find guest access to hula hoops hanging at the Front Desk. Guests can also challenge the Front Desk staff to a game of Rock Scissors Paper or Cornhole for the chance to win a complimentary room upgrade.

Casa Palopó: Guatemala

Casa Palopó is nestled on the edge of Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands, overlooking the serene lake and its three majestic volcanoes. Upon arrival to this Mayan-inspired, 15-room boutique hotel, guests are welcomed with a Rosa Palopó, a refreshing beverage of hibiscus juice, fresh watermelon and lime, and then escorted to the hotel’s terrace, where a complimentary 10-minute foot massage is the perfect complement to the incredible view.

Mojo Nomad Central: Hong Kong

At Mojo, you’ll find a reception built into the hotel’s restaurant and bar, Te Quiero Mucho. The blending of the two spaces encourages guests and visitors alike to come together, plus it’s decked out with beer taps, so guests are encouraged to have a drink upon check in.

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Tagged: Arizona, aruba, Atlanta, Caribbean, Chicago, Chicago, Colorado, Denver, Hotels, Los Cabos, Memphis, Mexico, Midwest, Nashville, New England, Washington DC

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Aly Walansky
Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer.

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