Background: Delayed hospital discharge occurs when patients are medically cleared but remain hospitalized because a suitable care setting is not available. Delayed discharge typically results in reduced levels of treatment, placing patients at risk of functional decline, falls and hospital‐related adverse events. Caregivers often take on an active role in hospital to mitigate these risks. Objective: This scoping review aimed to summarize the literature on patient and caregiver experiences with delayed hospital discharge. Search strategy: Seven electronic databases and grey literature were searched using keywords including alternate level of care, delayed discharge, patients, caregivers and experiences. Inclusion criteria: Included articles met the following criteria: (a) patient or caregiver population 18 years or older; (b) delayed discharge from a hospital setting; (c) included experiences with delayed discharge; (d) peer‐reviewed or grey literature; and (e) published between 1 January 1998 and 16 July 2018. Data extraction: Data were extracted from the seven included articles using Microsoft Excel 2016 to facilitate a thorough analysis and comparison. Main results: Study themes were grouped into five elements of the delayed discharge experience: (1) overall uncertainty; (2) impact of hospital staff and physical environment; (3) mental and physical deterioration; (4) lack of engagement in decision making and need for advocacy; and (5) initial disbelief sometimes followed by reluctant acceptance. Conclusion: This review provides a foundation to guide future research, policies and practices to improve patient and caregiver experiences with delayed hospital discharge, including enhanced communication with patients and families and programmes to reduce deconditioning.