a croissant and a cup of coffee on a plate

You had me at buffet…

When choosing a hotel there are so many angles to steer your business. But one that wins above all, is a fantastic hotel breakfast.

How could you ever possibly turn down the pleasure of grazing your way to a treasure trove of fresh goodies, half awake, with just a simple elevator ride. But the art form is in choosing “which” breakfast to indulge. When booking a hotel, you’ll see descriptors like: continental, English and American to describe the various breakfast offerings from hotel to hotel, so here’s how to know what you’re in for…

a croissant and a cup of coffee on a plateContinental Breakfast

A continental breakfast is your most basic option, which essentially lets hotels off the hook for reheating croissants, bagels and other light “on the go” options. Your coffee will probably come from a large pot, too. Don’t expect a fancy latte.

Continental breakfasts are designed for on the go travelers, who don’t have the time to fuss with cooked eggs and other treats. A continental breakfast can be delightful, but if this is what the hotel is advertising, your expectations for a massive, multi course feast of eggs, bacon and chef curated specialities should be tempered to a quick banana and a bagel, and coffee in a foam cup.

a plate of breakfast with eggs bacon tomatoes and mushroomsEnglish Breakfast

This will often have the descriptor “full” next to it, because that’s absolutely what you’ll be afterwards. If a full English is on offer, expect: eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, toast and if you like, baked beans.

In a nice twist, Each region of the United Kingdom offers different twists, so don’t be surprised if there are a few delightful little add ons like pastry, black pudding, porridge, fried mushrooms, or even some smoked fish involved!

As far as “non buffet” breakfasts go, this is the gold standard and can easily help you skip lunch if you’re on a diet, or budget!

a plate of food with eggs bacon toast and toastAmerican Breakfast

An American hotel breakfast is yet another option where you can expect full on food made to order, and not just some reheated pastry.

By definition, an American breakfast involves two eggs, a side of bacon or sausage, toast or cereal and your choice of juice.  Pancakes may be offered as a side or alternative.

Like its English counterpart, The American breakfast is a power punching, calorie packing hotel option, which is sure to get you through the morning, and depending on portion size, perhaps the day. American breakfast beats continental breakfast, but may tie, draw or lose with full English, depending on your tastes.

What’s your go to breakfast on the road?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Breakfast is our #1 “amenity” we want at a hotel. We’ll take any, and what I found in Paris and Italy were “continental breakfasts” that included servings of ham and/or light Italian meats. It provided a little more filling option without the danger of being so full we might skip the day’s plans. 🙂

  2. Porridge is never part of an English breakfast. That’s something you may have before or after the English breakfast and would be more prevalent in Scotland anyway. If you can eat porridge and a fried breakfast, perhaps economy class seating is not good for your waistline.

    Black pudding should always be on a full English or Scottish breakfast as otherwise it’s not a full breakfast. The only optional is really hash browns or potato scones.


  3. Don’t forget the starch in the full American. It nearly always also includes either hash browns or home fries – – some sort of a fried or roasted potato option, on the side.

    1. Lol nah potato’s may be a favorite of sum by definition they are not in the American breakfast you can’t re write definitions the way you want them to sound

  4. You’ve forgotten the wonderful Southern breakfast in the US. It is eggs, grits, bacon or country ham, biscuits and sausage gravy. With wonderful, hot, fluffy cat head biscuits, it is one of the great joys of staying at a fine Southern hotel.

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