Travel: Nix the Hotel Breakfast

Oh, I know they try. How they try. But…[sigh].

The mid-range hotels I favor on the road — I will not name them; they don’t deserve it — provide solid, clean rooms. But somewhere along the way, they competed each other into providing free breakfast for guests. Aha. Another cost item. Some of it they can bury in room rates, but not all, not if they’re going to compete in this crowded segment of the hospitality industry.

So they try to get it done as inexpensively as possible. In most cases, this leads to a bland disaster in terms of both diet and quality.

If you can get by on a bit of raisin bran, milk, a fresh orange and coffee, the hotel breakfast may be O.K. But then you have the atmosphere, which is usually convenience-store plasticky. Not the way I want to start the day. Efforts at hot food necessarily involve compromise. Eggs just aren’t designed to be cooked in advance and wait in steam tables. Worse yet are the little roundish egg patties some places provide. The only way around such egg travesties is to have a manned egg/omelet station. But then you have left the realm of mid-range hotel and cost control.

Besides, accepting the ersatz hotel breakfast for anything other than dire economic constraints runs up against one of my chief travel directives: don’t visit; instead, live temporarily in your destination. Find the local spots that make a place unique, interesting, memorable.


Where food in concerned, apps such as Urbanspoon let you search restaurants by type, neighborhood and cost. User reviews help guide you. TripAdvisor is good this way too, as are numerous guide books, both print and online.

But even if you can’t pin down a good local diner, at the very least find a Starbucks. You can get a breakfast sandwich and an honest coffee, and watch the locals come and go and get caffeinated.

Wherever you can step out into the community, do it. That goes for breakfast too. Bon appetit, all over the world.

Copyright 2013 Adam Barr

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One thought on “Travel: Nix the Hotel Breakfast

  1. While in London next week I’m going to sneak out of the flat at 5:30 a.m., while my loved ones are blissfully dreaming about the People’s Prince, and make my way to the Cock Tavern for the 6 a.m. “Butcher’s Breakfast.” It is comprised of a pint, eggs, black pudding, calf’s liver and deviled kidneys. Not something you could eat every day, but definitely a meal you must enjoy once! (Photo:

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