Over our ten years we have had a lot of questions from guests. We should probably have a hand out of numbered answers to refer them to, sort of our own FAQ sheet so to speak, but that wouldn't seem very friendly.
The most frequent questions are about check in and out times. Check out is at 11 a.m. Check in starts at 4 p.m. and we hope everyone is here by 10 p.m. The closer it gets to midnight the the less sentient the innkeepers become. Early check out or check in is sometimes possible but we charge $25 per hour. Why a fee? Why those hours? Can't we make an exception?
To understand the policy it helps to understand the innkeeper's work day. Unlike many properties we do not have hired help other than the guy that cuts the grass. Breakfast prep usually starts at 7 a.m. The dining room is open from 8 to 10 a.m. which means meal service is over around 10:30. Dave waits to handle check outs while I play the coveted role of Scullery Maid. By noon we begin cleaning rooms, diving into laundry, making repairs, catching up on paperwork, answering phones, and the other unending, less than glamorous tasks that keep this place going. Some days we actually eat lunch. Depending on the number of rooms that need to be prepared we may not finish until nearly 4 p.m. On one particularly memorable day I had guests waiting on the porch at 3:45 p.m. while I dashed to the hardware store to buy three new toilet seats. (Why four broke in one night is a question I refuse to ask. I was still three short.)
Quite bluntly, the fee is to discourage early check ins and check outs. We have learned the hard way that making exceptions often back fires. Stopping the day's work to greet and help guests with their questions also means that another room might not be ready for the guests that show up at the stroke of 4 p.m. for their room.
Of course a hotel or another property might not have this policy or our fees. More power to them! (They also have the added expenses of a desk clerk, concierge, housekeeping staff and price their rooms accordingly.) We have learned over the years how to provide a quality experience for our guests by fine tuning our routines and recognizing what we can't provide.
If you are in the area early you may leave your car in our parking lot. Hang out on the lawn swing or walk to the beach or around town. (Unfortunately we do not have a public restroom or changing area at the inn. There are public facilities two blocks away next to the library.) Then come back at four to be welcomed with a smile.