Why I Love Hotel Complimentary Breakfast & My Take On Hilton’s Change
Spurred on by Hilton’s recent hotel complimentary breakfast (temporary) changes for elite members, Mark recently shared why he thinks free breakfast is highly overrated. Similar to his Hilton FNC stance, Mark triggered me a bit with his breakfast take, as well. No doubt, how one values complimentary breakfast is very situation-dependent. Today, though, I’ll describe why hotel complimentary breakfast, whether due to elite status or a hotel standard, is one of my favorite features of any stay. I’ll also share my initial take on Hilton’s change.
First off, the convenience of a hotel complimentary breakfast cannot be replicated by an off-property option. Breakfast at the hotel is a huge time saver and encourages a great start to the day. At times, I’m surprised that some complimentary breakfasts end on the earlier side – 9 am in some cases. This is a turn-off to some, but I try to use it as motivation to not unnecessarily lurk around the hotel. I love sleeping in, but not all the time.
Knowing that I don’t have to jump into a rental car, hop on public transit, or even walk down the block for breakfast is a huge win. If anything, I would say hotel complimentary breakfast is too convenient. How so? Check out how many people are eating breakfast in their pajamas on your next hotel stay.
One Meal Solved
With two little ones, a large focus of our trips involves figuring out meals. The logistics of feeding our family of four three times daily takes time away from other preferred activities. In some ways, meals are more work during trips than at home. Hotel complimentary breakfast solves one of those three daily challenges.
Taking it a step further, we aim for a late breakfast or brunch on certain trips. For those larger breakfasts, they resolve two meal needs in a day. In those cases, just a late breakfast and early dinner meet our daily goals. We’ve done this at resorts, of course, but also more in more seemingly pedestrian properties, such as Hilton Garden Inns.
Exploring Variety at a Hotel Complimentary Breakfast
When I’m paying for my breakfast, I’m not particularly adventurous with my selections. I want to go with the sure thing which I know I’ll enjoy. When breakfast is complimentary, I’m more apt to try new foods, such as local favorites or more exotic fare. We’re also more open to our kids trying different stuff here, too. Of course, exploring variety at a complimentary breakfast isn’t always possible. TownePlace Suites’ breakfast is the opposite of variety. Nonetheless, I enjoy taking advantage of the variety at any hotel breakfast when it’s available.
This definitely doesn’t apply all the time, but we’ve received stellar service from hotel employees working breakfast in on-site restaurants. We’ve taken advantage of their local knowledge, and they’ve shared hotel aspects that we wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Along with housekeeping, I’ve found these employees to be some of the most underrated hotel staffers out there.
My Initial Take on Hilton’s Change
You can obtain a full refresher on Hilton’s temporary changes here. Long story short, certain elite members were previously eligible for at least complimentary continental breakfast at the majority of Hilton hotel brands. Through the end of the year, that benefit is being replaced with a property credit (amount varies by hotel brand).
My first thought of the change is that this is a shrewd move by Hilton. Compared to other major properties, Hilton has one of the more generous elite breakfast benefits in terms of applicability across the chain. Undoubtedly, they are devaluing the benefit with the credits. But is it a substantial enough devaluation for me and my family to focus our loyalty elsewhere? No, and I bet we’re not alone here. While they are announcing this as a temporary change through the end of the year, I’m considering it more of a pilot period. If Hilton determines the change is working out successfully, I figure they’ll implement it permanently. I’d be happy to be proven wrong and have them revert back to the old version.
Regardless, we’ll still be fans of Hilton Garden Inn, my favorite hotel brand, and their breakfast offering. I’m okay paying a few extra bucks, as we enjoy the consistency, quality, and absence of stuffiness there. While the old benefit covered breakfast for two (and all four of us most of the time), I was accustomed to shelling out via gratuity. With the new policy, I’ll just pay a bit more; I’ll simply dip deeper into my cash back rewards to cover it. No big deal.
If the new policy is permanently adopted, I’ll inevitably try different hotel brands within the Hilton portfolio that still provide free breakfast. Check out Mark’s helpful article for more info, but these Hilton brands are:
- Embassy Suites
- Hampton Inn
- Homewood Suites
- Home2 Suites
We’ve stayed plenty in Hampton, Homewood, and Embassy Suites properties. This devaluation may be the kick in the rear I need to try those other brands. As I mentioned, I probably won’t take my hotel loyalty to another chain. Instead, perhaps I’ll just shift my brand tendencies within the Hilton chain.
While I’ve enjoyed Embassy Suites in the past, I don’t think it’s wise to consider their breakfast (or happy hour) truly complimentary. From my perspective, travelers pay for those Embassy Suites benefits via higher rates (cash or points) as compared to other alternatives (Hilton properties or otherwise). I’ve found that Embassy Suites properties are at least 10k points more per night (and frequently, much higher) than other Hilton brands. In this, and all other cases, decide if the extra points or higher cash rate is worth the “free” breakfast.
Hotel Complimentary Breakfast – Conclusion
I truly value hotel complimentary breakfast across all hotel chains, but Hilton is my favorite chain. With this temporary change, Hilton has put more responsibility on loyalists to determine their best values for breakfast. It will involve a bit more legwork, but nothing near the mess that Marriott has created with their painful breakfast policy. Hilton’s change could’ve been much worse! At best, it’s just a temporary thing – at worst, it’s a minor devaluation. Based on how you value hotel complimentary breakfast, what do you think of Hilton’s change?