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Skip the free hotel breakfast?

Posted by exacto on 17/3/2022 at 15:25

In the past, I would usually avoid hotels which offered a free breakfast because experience proved it typically isn't very good and because eating a mediocre free breakfast at the hotel prevented me from eating an awesome,  even if more expensive breakfast at any number of cafes nearly everywhere. Two exceptions might be if the hotel is isolated and other options are limited, or if it is a small breakfast of coffee and fruit or similar, which can be a perfect setup for a second breakfast out later.

I'm in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico at the moment, staying at a lovely budget hotel. It offers a free breakfast of usually scrambled eggs with fried rice or a pasta in red sauce dish, cereal, toast, and coffee. Fruit is limited to bananas only. These isn't much else. The breakfast isn't awful, but it certainly isn't great. The best part is enjoying it in the open courtyard of the hotel.

A few days ago, I was in Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico, staying at a wonderful small guest house. They included a breakfast of fresh fruit (cantaloupe, papaya, and watermelon), toast, and coffee. It was small, but good, and a perfect lead into a late morning breakfast after a morning explore through town. Better still, this guest house had free brewed coffee (as opposed to Nescafe) available all day long. I know Somtam would like that.

I thought I might try the included hotel breakfast option again at the start of this trip after not being on the road for so long, but if I had it to do again, I'd skip it and have breakfast out each morning instead. What do other people think?  What extra good or extra awful included breakfasts have you had at hotels? Cheers.

#1 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,821

Posted by antoniamitchell on 26/3/2022 at 11:49

Hi Exacto,

Most places I've stayed, the free breakfast is toast made with crappy white bread, cheap margarine that tastes like ear wax, some fruit or "juice", and maybe a greasy egg, occasionally a hot dog. So "free breakfast" isn't typically a selling point for me, and I don't bother with it, unless I'm staying at a business class hotel or nicer mid-range hotel, where they have a good breakfast buffet (or at least they did, pre-Covid - dunno if breakfast buffets have made a return yet). 

But there are a few exceptions - I stayed at a great small guesthouse in Yogyakarta (Aloha) that made local breakfasts each morning, different every day, and all wonderful. For example, one day there I was given a grilled banana-leaf packet of rice, chicken satay, sambal goreng, stir-fried cauliflower, a fruit plate, and a desert of a rice-flour cake. I was so impressed by their cooking that I took pictures of my breakfast, and I don't think I've ever done that before.

But I have to admit - those exception are few and far between.

I have far more memories of breakfasts eaten at small cafes - both great memories of enjoyable breakfasts (like eating roti canai while sitting in the sunshine on my first Asia trip) and memories of terrible breakfasts (trying (and failing) to manage the raw egg and super-slimy root vegetable goo I was served with my rice and miso soup in Japan).

Enjoy your explorations!

#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 569

Posted by somtam2000 on 12/4/2022 at 09:04 admin

I’m a big one for avoiding the hotel/hostel breakfast, yes there are exceptions (as Exacto says, freshly brewed coffee rather than nescafe), but I’ll almost always head out.  The main reason (aside from the coffee?) if I eat out I’ll be able to get something that is (a) local, and (b) affordable. I’ve never understood why, hostels in particular, offer up a breakfast of plastic bread, peanut butter and iridescent jam. Get some roti in! Or charge for it but get stuff in. 

It is a shame as the breakfast scene can be social, a good place to meet others who are under the same roof etc, but yeah, local food please—then you have me!

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,079

Posted by gecktrek on 12/5/2022 at 07:56

hey, depends where it is, in europe, would eat in, in asia and i knew i could get roti canai and teh tarik or a delicious soup, i am out the door each morning...

#4 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 175


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