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The ever-rising cost of hotel breakfasts

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Cedric_Statherby - 12/02/2012 11:04 BST

Everyone knows that hotels are finding the current economic climate in Europe difficult, but there appears to be a bit of an arms race going on to see how much they can charge for breakfast.

Of course businessmen are a captive audience, not enough of us check (for which read, not enough of our travel departments check) the price of breakfast before making a booking, and anyway it is all on expenses for most of us, but I have noticed a marked switch among European hotels to rates being quoted "American style" (ie room without breakfast) rather then the more traditional "European style" of bed-and-breakfast rates.

And that leaves the hotel free to charge (almost) what they like. A stay in Paris recently - at a middle of the range hotel, rooms around €180 (quite cheap for a business hotel in central Paris) - came with a simply eyewatering €40 for the breakfast buffet. To put this in perspective, I usually expect to spend less than that on dinner in Paris when travelling there - with a glass or two of wine.

I know there is the option of going to the café round the corner (croissant and coffee around €7) but in the current very cold weather it was not appealing at 6.45 am to try and find one that was open!

What are other people's experiences in this regard. Or was I just unlucky to find a particularly gouging hotel?

VintageKrug - 12/02/2012 11:09 BST

I was staying at a Taj hotel recently, and was billed £48 per person (equivalent) for breakfast.

My jaw dropped.

They had billed each item individually (a rasher of bacon was £4!).

I had a word with the receptionist and this was reduced to a more reasonable £20 - I'd imagine few people staying in the suite I was using ever bother to check the bill.

MartynSinclair - 12/02/2012 11:21 BST

When i am covering the hotel bill I will usually try to obtain an all in rate. Otherwise will "negotiate" and exec floor room with lounge an breakfast. SPG Plat, generally don't have the problem of needing to pay for breakfast .

£48 + tip for breakfast is nonsense.

PatJordan - 12/02/2012 15:15 BST

Good to hear from VK again, it might put an end to some speculation.

Whilst we all Know Paris can be expensive, £48 for breakfast is over the top. One has to wonder how many guests did not follow VK's example and query the cost? And the subsequent boost to the hotel's revenue stream?


LeTigre - 12/02/2012 15:30 BST

I noticed that the Sheraton Milan Malpensa, a hotel I frequent, increased charges to 18 euros each for a breakfast excluding drinks which are more than 5 euros each. Each time I go, the room only costs £40/night (cheap!) on secret hotels, but for two people to pay 46 euros (same as room price) on breakfast is just silly.

The key to this is McDonald's! I love their pancakes and syrup which never exceed £4 including a hot drink in various countries, cheapest in Malaysia (£1.50). Save the money and have a nicer lunch!

LuganoPirate - 12/02/2012 17:21 BST

I understand your point Hengli, but if I paid just £40 for a night at the Sheraton I really wouldn't mind paying same again for breakfast. I guess the hotel has to make some money somewhere and £76 B&B for two at the Sheraton is still quite a bargain.

Saffjoyfox3 - 12/02/2012 17:21 BST

Ridiculous that a Taj was charging that sort of crazy price for breakfast but good to know they reduced the charge. I know they have properties in New York, Boston and San Francisco, London and Cape Town, but my experiences with Taj in India has always been great since breakfast and other nice money-saving benefits come included with the club rooms and even if not in a club room their 24 hour coffee shops provide a superb spread at a very reasonable cost. I know not all hotels around the world have club rooms, but they always work out at better value with everything taken into account. Had especially good experiences with club room bookings in India and the Middle East.

LeTigre - 12/02/2012 17:36 BST

LP, if you're saving so much money on the room, why blow all the savings on an inflated breakfast?

But, actually, the way to beat the system is to buy breakfast through the secret hotels option and it costs about £5 each! Bingo!

Only downside is no spg points...

LuganoPirate - 12/02/2012 17:59 BST

The most I've ever paid for breakfast is € 32 at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. But if you think about it, some of these breakfasts in 5 star hotels are the equivalent of 3 or 4 course meals so not such bad value really.

LuganoPirate - 12/02/2012 18:02 BST

I'm intrigued by the "secret hotels" Hengli. I'd be grateful if could you tell me what they are or how to find them? Always up to saving money!

seasonedtraveller - 12/02/2012 21:04 BST

The Radisson Mayfair London wanted £30 for breakfast even though I only wanted coffee and a bacon roll and only had 15 mins spare.

I went across the road & enjoyed my breakfast for less than a fiver.

BeckyBoop - 12/02/2012 21:53 BST

OMG Vintage krug did you stay at The Pierre NYC?

Hengli123 yes MaccyD's pancakes are to die for and you get nice coffee too!!

No excuse for any hotel to charge stupid money for breaky unless it was a 3 star michelin one by heston blumenthial made with all weird ;) I was once charged £9 for a bowl of cornflakes with milk?!?!?!?!?? ;S lucky i wasnt paying it was all on the company.. but still not right :( x

- 12/02/2012 22:00 BST

Like Martyn I am SPG Plat and use the lounge, except as properties where you cannot get decent coffee. Then its off to coffee store for latte with extra shot or two and a bagel or a dansih. Not big on sit down breakfast except on vacation and then the tab goes up with Bloody Mary or a Mimosa.

Bucksnet - 12/02/2012 22:16 BST

Becky babes, if you think McD pancakes are to die for then you haven't tried anything decent. Plus the syrup they give you is high fructose corn syrup which is very bad for you. Best to stick to genuine maple syrup.

BeckyBoop - 12/02/2012 22:53 BST

True hun but you don't eat the macdonlds ones all the time The best ones i have ever eaten are at the Mandarin oriental in NY and they were with prop syrup ;) xx

RichardB - 13/02/2012 02:06 BST

The price and whether breakfast is included in the room price is normally linked to the travel policy the typical guests have. Nordic countries (like Finland) have fixed daily allowances that don't require receipts. Since you get the money regardless of what you spend it on, travellers in Finland would not spend 20 or 30e of their allowance on breakfast when the cash would otherwise end up in their pocket. End result – all hotels I've stayed at in finland and Scandinavia include breakfast in all room rates.
This system beaks down when you travel to countries with different styles of travel policy. I would not use up 40e of my 80euro (tax free) daily allowance in Greece for breakfast at Athens Hilton. It would otherwise be 40e in my pocket and a two week trip at 80e per day tax free soon makes a nice bonus.

I spend 4-5 months of the year in hotels and don’t find hotel breakfasts that healthy either. Plus I'm not going to get dressed, wait for the lift, sit down, eat and then go back to my room just for a cup of tea and breakfast. Especially if it's the type of restaurant where you have to ask for the bill, sign it, ask for the tea, wait for them to bring it. Instead I have a small kettle to make my own tea and small packs of instant porridge. That and some yogurt from the local supermarket mean breakfast in bed for about 1euro instead of time wasted going to the hotel restaurant for it at 30-40x the price.

I think mini-bars have started to disappear from UK hotels due to company travel policies not paying for items from mini-bars. But I doubt the same thing will happen about hotel breakfasts. If it did then the hotels would soon follow the Nordic model.

LuganoPirate - 13/02/2012 04:00 BST

I've a friend who takes his own toaster with him. Using the room kettle he can then have "hot" toast and tea.

stevescoots - 13/02/2012 08:21 BST

I never eat breakfast in hotels, usually ia m up too early to catch a flight, or having a lay in! I have seen the prices though and yes, they are rediculous in most cases.

McDonanlds coffee is probably some of the worst around as well!

SimonRowberry - 13/02/2012 12:39 BST

Had the same problem as VK, when staying at the W in Istanbul.

I came back to the hotel (a little worse for wear, admittedly) and thought that I'd fill the breakfast card in at reception, whilst still vaguely compos mentis. The concierge helped me (I'm not sure I still had the ability to write at that point).

When I settled the bill later that morning, I discovered that they too had charged by the item. I can't remember the exact amount but it was somewhere around €50.

What made it worse was that I had such a hangover, I only had the juice, toast and coffee and left the rest.

Still, one learns from one's experiences. Allegedly. So they say, anyway.


SimonRowberry - 13/02/2012 12:54 BST

Richard B,

What you say is correct, except in some of the more upmarket properties and, of course, where room service breakfast in concerned.

I stay quite often at the generally quite splendid Hotel Kämp in Helsinki. It was the case until a couple of years ago that if you were on a breakfast inclusive rate (and not all of them are), you could have room service simply by paying the tray charge (which was something like €8). I had done this many times.

On one occasion, I followed my custom and practice and filled out the room service menu, only to be hit by a bill of something like €40 for breakfast and tray charge. The policy had changed to one where rate-inclusive breakfast could only be taken in the restaurant and any room service brekkie was at full price.

I had not been told of this change (in fairness, there's no reason why they should have, I guess). I explained to the front desk on check at and as I was (at that time) a regular and known guest, they waived the charge.


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