Looking at flights for our 21-Day BOE trip in August 2022. The fastest and lowest priced refundable flights arrive in Amsterdam at 6am, however we can't check into our hotel in Haarlem until 3pm. Suggestions for what to do until hotel check-in? Afraid that we will be really exhausted and not able to rest before touring the city. Thanks for any ideas!
Sometimes when I have an international flight arriving very early, I make a hotel reservation for the night before, guaranteeing that I can immediately check into the hotel. I have found this worth every penny! (I let the hotel know that I will not arrive until morning so they don’t give the room away.)
I take a shower and a nap, then usually have enough energy for some walking and exploring in the afternoon, a nice dinner and (early) bedtime.
If your room is ready, most hotels will let you check in early. If not, go to the hotel, drop off your bags, and get out into the fresh air and sunshine. It will help with jet lag.
We landed about 7 am in Amsterdam our first trip to Europe. We dropped our bags in a locker in the train station and hit the sites running. However, we did not start the Best of Europe that day. Ten years later we did the BOE and it is a busy 3 weeks. If at all possible, arrive a couple days early ( we got there three days early and we’re not bored). I liked the suggestion of booking the hotel the night before and checking in early in the morning for a rest and refresh if you can’t get there a day early. Enjoy this trip.
I had an early arrival after a red-eye flight in Amsterdam several years ago. I was flying from Rwanda so I didn’t change time zones, just flew all night. I arranged with the hotel to pay for the night before my arrival and they knew I would arrive first thing in the morning. I arrived, my room was ready. They served a lovely breakfast, I took a shower and a short nap, and then headed out to see the city.
As I left the hotel, I passed a large and tired selection of fellow travelers draped over their suitcases in the lobby hoping rooms would be ready soon. It really affirmed my decision to spend a bit more to take care of myself. The hotel treated me exceptionally well. I think they respected my willingness to pay for my room.
My best advice, treat yourself well and just get your room for the night before arrival.
Have you planned your transportation from Schiphol to Haarlem? If you are taking the train, it will involve 2 trains. It's not difficult. The trains run all the time.
When you say, tour of the city, are you talking about Haarlem or Amsterdam?
At any rate, I'd book the room for the night before. Or talk to the hotel. Maybe they will let you check in really early.
Perhaps look into either booking your Haarlem hotel a day earlier or getting a day room close to the airport that will allow you to get some sleep when you arrive.
In the summer, hotels tend be very booked, so the odds of getting in early aren't great.
We have always had pretty good luck with checking in early including Haarlem in the summer time. Some hotel even have a fee for checking in early if advised in advance. Ask the hotel. Even if you arrive at six you will not be in Haarlem much before 8, maybe a stop in the bathroom plus breakfast will make it closer to ten. Even if you cannot check in early, leave you luggage at the hotel, and do some area walking or visiting the TI, or just generally exercise. The hotels are familiar with north Americans arriving early.
PS -- You take the bus to Haarlem. Direct and easy. You do not take the train. And depending on where you hotel is, you may want to get off the bus the stop before the train station in Haarlem. Check a map. We like Haarlem and have stayed there four times. Great ice cream shop in the church and a fry place just down the next street. Lots to see and do in Haarlem.
The friend who recommended Rick Steves tours to me (in 2007!) also suggested arriving at least a day early. This gives you time to get your bearings and to begin to recover from any jet lag. I’ve done this for every one of my 10 tours and it’s worked well. Tour mates arriving ‘day of’ the the tour will be falling asleep on your introduction to the city tour or during the welcome dinner!
Amsterdam is a great city for walking. Drop your luggage at the hotel, find a place to get some breakfast, then set out exploring the neighborhood. Use your pre or post days to see sites not on the tour agenda. Be sure to research sites or museums in to see if you need advance reservations. Have fun on your RS tour!
Don’t worry about being too tired the day of arrival. Even with a 6a arrival time you still have to go through customs, withdraw euros then work your way from the airport. Take your time and relax. When you get to your hotel drop off your bags and ask if housekeeping can accommodate you before 3p. I’ve done this more than a dozen times and most likely your room will be ready by noon if not before. Only once did I run into a problem and it was at a big cruise hotel in Amsterdam and I still managed to stay occupied.
I don’t recommend making a reservation the night before because chances are you’re not going to sleep anyway nor should you. The best way to fight jet lag is to get on Europe’s time zone immediately. Explore Harlaam and see the sights while you’re waiting for your room.
In 2019 I took a trip to Ireland with 10 family members. Our flight from New York arrived in Dublin at the crack of dawn. My sister suggested that we all book our hotel rooms for the night before our arrival, thus allowing us early access to our rooms. Some in our group argued that it would be a waste of money, that the hotel would probably check us in early, and that we would be so excited to be in Ireland that we wound want to start touring immediately. But in the end the majority of the group voted to book the rooms one day early, and I'm so glad we did. What a treat it was to arrive at the hotel after a long flight and immediately be able to take a shower and change clothes. Everyone was so relaxed and refreshed when we met up in the lobby that afternoon to head out for lunch. Even the people who were against booking the extra night at first admitted in the end that it was a great idea. In my opinion it was money well spent.
Hard to say what the situation will be then, but in November, my hotel in Amsterdam (Holiday Inn Express) gave me my room before 9 AM when I arrived. That also happened at several other hotels that trip. But other easy options would be leave your bags at the hotel, or if you want to hit Amsterdam right away, a locker at Centraal works well. I enjoy finding a small restaurant for coffee and a light breakfast near a canal as a nice start to the trip.