Real Talk #050 – How to check into a hotel

Episode description

Everyone deserves a nice vacation from time to time. If you are not comfortable checking in to a hotel speaking English, don’t worry. In this Real Talk episode, you will learn useful expressions you can use at the check-in counter.

Real Talk is a series designed to teach you practical real-life English. In this episode, we teach you how to check in to a hotel and how to respond to the most common questions receptionists ask.

Fun fact

Checking into a hotel should be easy, right? How about checking in to the First World Hotel & Plaza in Malaysia, which has a world record 7,351 rooms? After listening to this episode, you’ll have no problems at all.

Expressions included in the study guide

  • Under the name
  • To pull up [something]
  • Make and model
  • To be all set
  • Complimentary
  • Enjoy your stay

Under the name (Phrase)

At the beginning of the example conversation about checking in at a hotel, the guest tells the receptionist that he has a reservation under his name. This is a common way of saying there is a reservation that is associated with your name. To search for it, the receptionist needs to find the file classified under his family name.

You can also use the variations under the name of, to the name of, and with the name. The receptionist might also ask you, “Under what name is your reservation?” or “What name is it under?”

Here are a couple more examples with under the name:

Maria:               Hello. I’ve reserved concert tickets and I’m here to pick them up. My name is Maria Perez.
Receptionist:   Let me see. I’m sorry, ma’am. I don’t see your reservation in my computer.
Maria:               Oh, it’s probably under the name of my husband. His name is Peter Kline. K-L-I-N-E.
Receptionist:   OK, I found them. Can I have your credit card, please?

Charles:           Hello. I made an appointment with Dr. Smith last week.
Receptionist:   OK. Let me check. What name is your reservation under?
Charles:           Woods. Charles Woods.
Receptionist:   OK. I see it here. Please have a seat.
Charles:           Will it take long?
Receptionist:   Not long at all. We’ll call your name shortly.

To pull up [something] (Phrasal verb)

In the example dialogue, after the guest offers his name, the receptionist says she will pull up the reservation. To pull up [something] is to access it. This involves a small degree of searching effort. While it is not a complex process at all, pulling up [something] usually involves a few simple steps, like clicking on your mouse a couple of times.

Think of an old filing cabinet full of files. When you found the file you were looking for, you literally pulled it out of the drawer to access and use it. It is in that sense that we still use to pull up [something], even though most of the information we access is now digital.

There are two different ways we can use this phrasal verb. The object, or the [something] that we pull up can be placed before or after the word up. For example, pull [something] up or pull up [something].

Here are a couple more examples with to pull up [something]:

Gianni:    Are you ready to go to the hotel?
Sofia:      Yup.
Gianni:    Good. Actually, wait. Before we go, can you pull the reservation number up on the computer?
Sofia:      Don’t need to. I have a screenshot of it on my phone.
Gianni:    Good thinking. All right, let’s go.

Jihee:      Look at what I pulled up.
Lucia:      Oh no! How did you find that old picture of me?
Jihee:      Your mom let me search through your family photo albums.
Lucia:      I can’t believe she let you do that. I’m going to have a talk with her.
Jihee:      This picture is just the tip of the iceberg. I found so many more. Get ready to be embarrassed!

Make and model (Phrase)

When talking about the parking situation in the example dialogue, the receptionist asks the guest for his car’s make and model. A car’s make is its manufacturer, for example, Ford, Hyundai, or Honda. The model is the type of car the manufacturer produces, for example, Ford makes a Ford Taurus and Hyundai makes a Hyundai Sonata.

There are several reasons why a receptionist would ask you for your car’s make and model. It could be for security reasons, in order to keep your car safe. It could be to differentiate between your parking rights as a hotel guest and the parking rights of outside customers using the same parking lot.

You can also use make and model when referring to other machines, such as a coffee machine, a stereo system, or a laptop.

Here are a couple more examples with make and model:

Winston:   When I check in to the hotel, do you think I need to give them my license and registration papers?
Nadia:       I don’t think so. Nobody has ever asked me that. Just give them the car’s make and model and license plate number, and you’ll be fine. Do you know those?
Winston:   Not at all.
Nadia:       You should take a picture of your car. That way you won’t have to remember.

Fareed:     I heard you know a lot about smartphones. Can you help me pick one out?
Suzy:         Sure. What kind of make do you like?
Fareed:     I’m not sure. Samsung, I guess.
Suzy:         Would you buy the newest model or does an older one interest you?
Fareed:     Again, not sure. It depends on the price.

To be all set (Idiom)

Near the end of the check in, the receptionist says that the hotel guest is all set. In this situation, to be all set means that the guest has finished some preparations and is ready to go to the next phase. The preparations are the checking in, and the next phase is going to his room and beginning his stay at the hotel.

To be all set usually involves some kind of preparations. For example, if you spent a few weeks planning and packing for an overseas trip, once you are ready to go to the airport, you can say you’re all set. It is also common to say you’re all set and ready to go.

Here are a couple more examples with to be all set:

Chad:      I’m a bit nervous to be driving in front of you for the first time.
Barry:      Don’t worry. We’ll take it easy. Did you check your mirrors?
Chad:      Yes.
Barry:      Did you adjust your seat properly?
Chad:      Yes.
Barry:      OK. Turn on the engine and we’re all set to go.
Chad:      Cool. Let’s go.

Mona:      OK. I got my wallet, my mask, my bathing suit, my hat, and my sunscreen. I’m ready. How about you? Are you all set and ready to go?
Franny:   I’ve been all set for an hour. I’m waiting on you.
Mona:      Oh, wait. I forgot something. Can you wait a minute?
Franny:   Geez. Sure.

Complimentary (Adjective)

In the example dialogue, the receptionist informs the guest that there is a complimentary continental breakfast available for all guests. Complimentary means that it is free or already included in the initial price. The guest will be able to eat a continental breakfast, which is a light style of breakfast, at no additional cost.

Complimentary can be used in many other situations. For example, you can go to a music concert and find out that there is a complimentary drink with your ticket. That means you can have a free drink once you are there. Complimentary is an additional free benefit that goes along with something you have already purchased.

Here are a couple more examples with complimentary:

Receptionist:   Hello, Ms. Jones. Is there a problem with your room?
Harriet:             No, not at all. But I noticed two bottles of water in the fridge. Did I have to pay for those?
Receptionist:   No, you don’t. You are entitled to two complimentary bottles of water per day, as well as complimentary packets of tea and coffee.
Harriet:             That’s sounds great. Thank you.

Vera:       Where are you going?
Olive:      I’m heading over to Z-Mart.
Vera:       Really? You never go there.
Olive:      I know. But I read that they’re giving out complimentary coffee mugs if you spend over $50.
Vera:       That’s not a bad deal. Do you mind if I join?

Enjoy your stay (Phrase)

Near the end of the example dialogue, the receptionist says goodbye to the guest by saying enjoy your stay. This is a very common expression that receptionists and general staff members of the hotel say to guests. It is a polite and friendly way of hoping the guests have a pleasurable experience during their time at the hotel.

Enjoy your stay is the short version. You can always add more to it. For example, you can say I hope you enjoy your stay or please enjoy your stay here at the ABC Hotel.

Similarly, flight attendants will often say enjoy your flight to passengers while boarding. Waiters often say enjoy your meal after serving food at restaurants.

Here are a couple more examples with enjoy your stay:

Receptionist:   Here is your key card. Is there anything else I can do for you?
Isabelle:           I’m think I’m all right for now.
Receptionist:   Very well. We here at the Angel Hotel truly hope you enjoy your stay.
Isabelle:           I’m sure I will. Thank you.

Flight attendant:    Welcome.
Christopher:           Excuse me. Where is seat 32-G?
Flight attendant:    Your seat is on the left side of the plane. Just continue until you hit row 32. It will be a window seat.
Christopher:           That’s great, thanks.
Flight attendant:    You’re welcome. Enjoy your flight.

Real Talk #050 – How to check into a hotel


  1. What do you like and dislike about checking in at a hotel?
  2. In your experience, do you usually have to check in at a hotel under your name or do you simply pay with no questions asked?
  3. What is a complimentary item that makes you the most happy to find when you walk into a new hotel room?
  4. How important are the make and model to you when buying a household appliance?
  5. How long does it take you to get all set in the morning?

Hosts: Andrew Bates and Suzanne Cerreta
Music: Song One by Artist One, Song Two by Artist Two
Episode preparation/research: Kassy White
Audio editor: Kevin Moorehouse
Transcriptionist: Heather Bates
Study guide writer: Matty Warnock
English editor: Andrew Bates
Business manager: Tsuyoshi Kaneshima
Image: The Anam and Brandon Hooper (

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