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Big News! A Satisfactory “Free” Hotel Breakfast Still Exists

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Complimentary Hotel Breakfast

I’m a fan of quirky, niche, middle of the road, and what some may consider questionable hotel brands.  And I agree many such properties deserve that last moniker.  On the flip side, finding a single hidden gem can make the time-suck search a worthy endeavor.  Even more endangered is a sufficient complimentary hotel breakfast at any of these locations.  You know, that “free” thing which comes with the room rate – cash or points.  I’d pretty much given up on those until recently.  Here’s how it worked out.

Background

Over the years, I’ve found several attractive properties which outperform in their weight class.  Within their names, they often promise comfort, sleep, a garden, a country feel, or other vague notions of a respectable rest without spending much.  Along the way, they deliver a hotel breakfast that is as complimentary as it is consistently lacking.  Participating in said meal has primarily become a displeasure.

Indeed, we’ve mostly given up on this option on family trips.  The fare isn’t anything particularly desirable, and entering a Mad Max reenactment in the breakfast area isn’t high on our list, either.  But a newish property pulled me back in.

Complimentary Hotel Breakfast
The breakfast wasn’t particularly high quality or healthy, but serviceable.

Comfort Suites Lake Buena Vista

Subsequent to our recent MtM Diamond meetup, I switched hotels for two more nights in Orlando.  The Comfort Suites Lake Buena Vista opened earlier this year, and the 12k Choice points nightly redemption rate intrigued me even more.  I promptly reserved one of the properties’ spacious, hopefully-not-beaten-to-hell-yet rooms.

The room unsurprisingly met my expectations, but the adequate complimentary hotel breakfast served by hard-working staff in a large dining area took the stay up a notch.  Options at the breakfast bar are predictable – mini waffles, warm breakfast meats, limited fruit selection, marginal coffee, egg patties (no thanks to that last one).  Of course, the breakfast wasn’t out of this world, but I found it just right during my solo stay with a busy outside schedule.  The service area was tidy and well-staffed.  Overall, I wanted a bit of fuel in a drama-free environment prior to heartier fare later in the day.  Mission accomplished.

It’s About the People….and Lack Thereof

It’s not surprising that many brands across chains offer the same basic items at this level.  In a cost-cutting world where these brands reside, a huge point of differentiation is hotel staffing and service at breakfast.  In my experience, we’ve come to a point where competence has now become quaint.  Breakfast workers who adequately do their jobs make the experience more enjoyable.  And if they’re nice, or at least open to a kind word, that’s even better.

Complimentary Hotel Breakfast
Arriving first for complimentary breakfast – beautiful.

On the other end, it’s the lack of people that made my complimentary hotel breakfast more of a pleasure this time.  I arrived a few minutes after the 6:30 breakfast opening, and the area hadn’t yet been overrun with hotel guests.  Optimally timing such breakfasts is a wild card, I’ve found.  Some properties are busier earlier, others later.  But this time, I recognized a true complimentary hotel breakfast miracle – a guest in pajamas never arrived!

On a whole, I’ve found breakfast workers make the experience better, and guest hordes tend to degrade it.  Positively engaging the former while avoiding unruly cases of the latter is generally my goal.

Complimentary Hotel Breakfast – Conclusion

I was looking for a complimentary breakfast win, and I got it.  So many of our previous stays at this property level have been tainted by terrible breakfast experiences, and I’m confident we’ll pass on future ones.  But my eyes are open to those opportunities for just a hint of complimentary breakfast satisfaction.  How do you feel about the current state of complimentary hotel breakfast?  What are your strategies for maximizing this amenity?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Another Choice property, this one located in Berlin Ohio (Amish Country) has, in my opinion, one of the best free breakfasts I have experienced. As a IHG Diamond, I’m also enjoying the complimentary breakfast that my wife and I receive.

    • Bill,
      I don’t slot a status option as a “free” hotel breakfast in this article, but it’s great to hear you’re getting a solid return there. Back on the topic, though, I’ve found Holiday Inn Express to have a somewhat consistent complimentary breakfast, presuming they don’t run out of cinnamon rolls.

  2. It’s easy to say that the property owners are cheap screws but, in reality, we (the guests) create the breakfast experience. Part is the tangible food offering and part is the intangible look-and-feel of a place. Day after day after day, management and the workers “experience” their guests. They know their audience. At *this* property, the guests are nice and observe decorum. At *that* property, the guests aren’t and don’t. Management and the workers deliver a breakfast experience that is consistent with their guests. It’s a feedback loop. Running the range from luxury to budget-conscious, I’ve had far more good experiences than bad experiences. Maybe I’m just lucky. If someone is experiencing a low batting average, I’d say the person should rethink their choice of properties.

  3. Had and enjoyed a nice complimentary breakfast at a (comparatively upscale) Hyatt Place in Maryland just after Thanksgiving. The breakfast area was popular/crowded, but the staff replenished the foods frequently and were friendly.

    For free hotel breakfasts, my litmus test is whether or not the complimentary breakfast features hot scrambled eggs. The HP we stayed at not only had scrambled eggs and sausage, but also real yogurt (the kind you have to spoon/scoop into your bowl) and real strawberries-blueberries compote (although I believe they were from frozen) to go with it. They also had hot oats and several types of hot sauce to sprinkle on the scrambled eggs, which made for an overall satisfying breakfast.

    • Quo Vadis,
      I’m glad to hear another HP breakfast success story, and I like that litmus test. Incidentally, I was scarred by a rancid fruit experience at HP breakfast years ago and still haven’t recovered.

  4. Feel the same &, as you, was so delighted with a similar breakfast at the Best Western Omaha Airport. Folks there cared about their property & the quality of the breakfast. We left a $10 tip to the workers & left with a restored faith in people with pride in their work and an attitude to please & deliver.

    • Pam,
      I completely agree! While “Best Western standard” may be an oxymoron, if you find a good property, the breakfast (and much else) are often above average. Great people can turn something pedestrian into much more.

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