The Truth About Hotel Breakfast

One of my conclusions from traveling the world is that there is one common denominator about (almost) every hotel out there, and that is about breakfast. In short: Most Hotel Breakfast is horrible. Let’s be honest.

Sure, there are exceptions. Most of the ultra-luxury hotels are doing an excellent to amazing job at delivering great breakfast, and many hotels in Asia have a much better choice and quality than in the rest of the world. But whenever I am traveling outside of that exceptional area, my choice is clear: I never take hotel breakfast. Here’s why.

In the recent years even more, hotels are seeing breakfast more as a nuisance, a cost center. Many room rates now include breakfast, or they give it for free to elite status members. So many hotels, especially all chain hotels, are trying to lower the cost of offering breakfast to make it as cheap for them as possible. This means mediocre, minimal quality and standard choices.

Have you ever noticed that almost every hotel in, let’s say, North America is offering the exact same things for breakfast? It is always “eggs” (more about that later), bacon, some kind of toast, hash browns and maybe some sad grilled mushrooms. Add to that canned OJ and horrible coffee, and you get your typical hotel breakfast.

I can’t finish talking about breakfast without mentioning the worst of it all, in my opinion – the eggs. Especially scrambled eggs, or omelette. In almost any hotel, around the world, the hotel will never use fresh egg. It’s too expensive, and inconvenient. Instead, they are buying industrialized liquid egg, which is a yucky liquid of pre-broken eggs with preservatives to make them last for an eternity. To make scrambled eggs, they simply need to heat a bit of that liquid, and what you get is coagulated liquid industrial egg. But not what you and me know as real scrambled egg. You can notice that by the jelly-like consistency and uniform look of the final product on the buffet.

The solution: Go for a walk!

For me, the solution to get a great breakfast is simple: I take a short walk. Except for remote locations or island resorts maybe, there’s always a choice of great small local restaurants and coffee places around the corner. I would much rather give my money to a local business than to buy mediocre industrial hotel breakfast.

Taking that walk has the additional benefit of getting you some early morning sunlight exposure, which wakes you up and gives you energy. And so far, I have always discovered something interesting on these walks – a new park, an interesting spot, and lots of great restaurants and coffee shops that I keep coming back to later.

The truth about hotel breakfast

Having said that, there are a number of great hotels out there that do an amazing job at offering outstanding breakfast. It would be unfair to not mention a few of these examples – and this is of course far from an exhaustive list.

JOALI Being, Maldives

This luxury hotel has probably the best breakfast I’ve ever seen. The buffet has hundreds of non-standard items, such as fermented fruit and vegetables (good for your tummy), freshly made juices, homemade bread and granola, all kinds of nut butters and, of course, a-la-carte items made with fresh, organic eggs. Delightful and never boring (sorry, no breakfast burrito. Yay!)

Six Senses Yao Noi, Thailand

The Six Senses brand does a great job at food in any of their locations around the world, but I specifically liked their property near Phuket. Natural ingredients, a lot of them homemade (they even have their own chickens for daily organic free-range eggs). Plus a lot of the treats you get from staying in a hotel in Asia: Curries, stir-fries and noodle soup for breakfast. In general, Asian hotels do a much better job than anywhere else at breakfast (and food in general).

Hotel Bergrose Hideaway, Strobl am Wolfgangsee, Austria

This hidden gem in the Austrian Alps is a small family business and has great food in general – including their homemade breakfast. They produce a number of fruit preserves such as apricot, sour cherry and red currant, which they also ship around the world. Together with an amazing selection of freshly baked items, you are free to enjoy all of these fruit preserves for your breakfast.

Which is your favorite hotel with great breakfast that needs to be added to this list?

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