Conrad Osaka atmos

I Dislike Hotel Free Breakfast… Sometimes


Free breakfast is often regarded as one of the most important benefits a high enough hotel status can give you. But, after years of having hotel status and sampling tons of different hotel breakfast, I find myself battling with the obligation to take advantage of free breakfast some days.


Obligation to eat free breakfast

There’s some sort of a built-in obligation to take advantage of your hotel status as best you can since you’ve already committed in a loyalty program by staying lots of nights or signing up for a credit card that gives you automatic status, which typically comes at a cost of more than $500 a year. Either way, you’ve already paid for it, so wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to get more value than what you already paid for?


Free breakfast leaves out room for food exploration

This will depend on the individual, but I tend to make most of my trips abroad. Trying out local cuisines is one of the things I tend to do while traveling. Free breakfast from hotels are often at odds with this. While hotel breakfast can serve local cuisines, they may feel “too sterile” compared to going out to a popular local cafes or restaurants. The food experience is just different. There are also times where the hotel breakfast just didn’t taste good.

The volume of a typical hotel breakfast is also to be considered. Tons of them are all-you-can-eat buffet, plus a la carte menu of smaller items you can order on top. Or, the ones that mainly have a la carte menu have huge portion. Either way, you can time when you eat breakfast so you can skip lunch.

Kimpton Shinjuku Steak Breakfast
Steak and fries for breakfast can feel heavy, at least in some mornings.- Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo

On the other hand, eating a big dinner the day before can make it difficult to eat breakfast the next day, especially that most breakfast times end at 11am. Thus, should you power through or avoid big dinner the day before to take advantage of breakfast benefit because it’s “free”? It’s definitely something to weigh on if food experience is important to you in your travels.


Benefits of hotel free breakfast

Despite my rants about free hotel breakfast, I still appreciate that it’s still an option for me in many other times. Hotel breakfast can be convenient, and they were at times handy in certain places where stores and cafes nearby open way later than the time I wake up.

Sheraton Bishkek Breakfast
Many restaurants may not open until 10am in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan!- Sheraton Bishkek Breakfast

Also, there are certain places where I don’t jive with certain cuisines due to much differing palate, and hotel breakfast offer familiarity that’s suitable for a safe backup option for food.



Free hotel breakfast can sometimes be at odds with food exploration while I’m traveling. Do I trade off trying new and authentic local cuisines by taking advantage of free breakfast and potentially save cost for lunch as well? I think it also depends where I travel. Free breakfast can be more valuable on places where I don’t particularly like their cuisines, and they provide safe and decent options for food.

To get deeper in the discussion of “maximizing value”, I don’t think it’s necessary to take advantage of free breakfast everyday, unless you’re in a resort where you can’t leave the property easily. The measurement of value is often personal, and hard to pin down with just dollar signs alone. If exploring food outside of hotel is a more valuable experience, then you probably won’t lose out on skipping breakfast. Plus, hotel status offer other benefits outside of free breakfast that you can still wring out of.

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