Hotel Breakfast as an Elite Benefit – Crucial or Not…

a plate of food on a table

Even though domestic US travel appears to be booming, many travellers are complaining that hotel breakfasts have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. Much of the time, this mediocrity has nothing to do with government restrictions and everything to do with hotel franchise cost-cutting (and insufficent staffing levels).

This situation is certainly very frustrating for those who have put in the effort to reach elite status with certain hotel chains, based partially on the promise of a proper breakfast at the hotel to start the day. Hilton has already “enhanced” this benefit away for its Diamond and Gold members staying in the United States – click here to re-read our original article – Gold and Diamond members receive a credit that rarely covers the cost of breakfast. The change is supposed to be temporary, but I don’t think that anybody honestly expects that a full breakfast will ever return, at least while top tier Hilton elite status is available by having the right credit card…

This leaves Hyatt Globalists and Marriott Platinum / Titanium / Ambassador as the only levels of elite status that come with breakfast. Coincidentally or not, these are also the levels of elite status that are:

  1. The hardest to achieve
  2. The most sought after

But should a proper, full breakfast really be a deal-breaker? Or something that causes so much frustration?

Breakfast is the “Canary in the Mine”

If you are paying to stay at a presumably nice hotel – a JW Marriott or a Grand Hyatt for example… – what does a failure to provide a reasonable breakfast suggest to you?

It certainly suggests to me that:

  • The hotel doesn’t value guests with elite status, so upgrades will be scarce
  • What else is the hotel cutting back on?  Service, housekeeping, security?

Not Everybody with Elite Status is Rich

When spending $200+ per night on a hotel room, it might seem cheap to complain about an extra $20 for breakfast, whether at a local restaurant or to upgrade a hotel’s “continental” offering to a “full breakfast”.

But many travellers aren’t paying the room rate when travelling on business or spending their hard-earned points, but they ARE paying for their food (whether directly or via a per-diem provided by their employer). A proper breakfast can be a crucial element of making ends meet, without having to resort to cheap fast food for breakfast or dinner.

And if you are travelling as a family, a $25 per day multiplied by three or four suddenly becomes a huge part of your holiday budgeting process, something you expected to avoid as a benefit from your loyalty to a specific hotel chain.

Eating at the Hotel is a Huge Time Saver (as well as Money)

We all know that hotel breakfasts are ridiculously overpriced. The target customer is usually a business traveller with an expense account. But the sticker price also reflects the massive convenience of eating breakfast before leaving your hotel in the morning.

Whether you are a tourist wanting to spend the rest of your day seeing the sights, or a business traveller with a day packed full of meetings, you don’t really want to have to think about waking up earlier than necessary to find a decent breakfast.

And although 3 meals per day is the ideal, many people manage to have a good, hearty breakfast last them through until dinnertime.  Saving time AND money if the hotel is honoring published elite benefits…

But I Skip Breakfast Anyhow…

There are, of course, people who think that hotel breakfasts are disgusting. Or prefer to sleep later. Or prefer a coffee and muffin from Starbucks, etc. etc.

That is certainly understandable. But then why bother chasing elite status?  If you don’t enjoy breakfast, you surely aren’t interested in whatever is offered in the executive lounge as an afternoon “appetizer”.  Upgrades? Only if you are lucky or DYKWIA loud enough. Bonus points? You’d probably get a better rebate return by sticking with and booking independent hotels.

What Do You Think?

Is the abrupt reduction of breakfast offerings something that bothers you as somebody with elite status?  Or do you think we are getting all wound up over nothing? Let us know in the comments section…