Many (if not most) guests like to have breakfast in the morning while staying at the hotel but rarely do the rates actually include breakfast from the start which can come costly if one doesn’t prepare.
There are many ways to tag on an extra breakfast benefit, from booking a package to using Elite benefits or adding a ‘breakfast option’ during the booking process.
All of the above should come significantly cheaper than just showing up at the hotel restaurant and paying for the buffet which in almost all cases is an outrageous rip off, designed for business travelers with expense accounts who simply don’t care about the charges.
It’s completely normal to see prices hovering around US$40 per person at 4 Star Hotels and as soon as you step into the 5 Star area then pretty much the sky is the limit. I’ve seen breakfast at hotels such as Park Hyatt Vendome Paris, Park Hyatt Tokyo or various St. Regis and Intercontinental properties where the retail price for one breakfast buffet exceeds US$60 per Person after Service Charge.
I find such prices unreasonable, especially since its really hard to eat anything of that value in the morning even if the hotel uses great, fresh ingredients which most (but by far not all) five star properties do.
So how does one get complimentary breakfast while staying at the hotel or at least paying a decent price?
By far the best method as most mid-tier and above Elite Status with various hotel loyalty programs comes with a complimentary breakfast benefit. This is the case for Hilton HHonors Gold/Diamond, Marriott Rewards Gold/Platinum, Hyatt Diamond and Starwood Platinum.
Hilton Gold is very easy to obtain either via one of their 4 Stays to Gold Fast Track offers (see John’s article here) or by applying for a credit card in various markets. I consider Hilton HHonors Gold the best Hotel Loyalty Status for leisure and infrequent travelers because it’s so easy to obtain and the benefits are worth real money and comfort.
Executive Level & Suites
Guests who book the Executive Level or a Suite usually have access to the Club Lounge where breakfast is served. Often hotels also offer their Executive guests to have breakfast at the restaurant instead.
Booking a Package
Pretty much all hotels offer special package deals that also include Breakfast as well as other benefits such as a late check-out. These packages can make sense but aren’t always a good deal so you should really compare.
Here is a good example of a decent package at the ANA Intercontinental Tokyo:
This particular package ‘Weekend Getaway’ is 1,400 JPY (~ US$ 10) more than the lowest Advance Purchase Rate and includes the breakfast option as well.
IHG Hotels offer this option at most of their hotels and with many different rates as well. Basically you can add the Breakfast for a flat fee and then go to the breakfast with max 2 guests.
Keep in mind though that the price of 2,375 JPY is the same no matter if you go with one or two persons so take that into account. It’s still considerably cheaper though than paying the full price at the restaurant.
Sometimes such offers also come up in an ‘upgrade option email’ that some hotels send out where one can bid for upgrades or in some cases breakfast too. I got this before on an award reservation as well which is especially useful since the add on isn’t offered for IHG Rewards reservations.
Breakfast is one of the primary reasons why maintaining my top tier Elite levels at the big hotel chains is worth it so I don’t have to worry about these things, especially when on holiday.
The maximum I’m willing to pay for a breakfast is the equivalent of US$20 unless it’s a special occasion or location. There is no way I’d spend more on a daily basis just to eat breakfast, better go to a local Starbucks or Cafe and grab something small. Certain locations such as resort hotels though don’t always have that available so it can be worth it to do some legwork in advance to figure out options in advance.