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Which Budget Hotel Chain Has the Best Free Breakfast?

January 8, 2009 at 3:55 PM | by | ()

We've all seen the commercials: from Holiday Inn Express to Hampton Inn, budget hotel chains around the country — the nice kind marketed to business traveler-types and road-tripping families, not pay-by-the-hour joints — all claim that their free hot or continental breakfasts will blow you away.

But are any of these breakfasts actually any good? We got excited when we heard Hilton Garden Inn was serving up a healthy new breakfast menu put together by former Top Chef contestant CJ, but reader jeffcodee let us know we'd be much happier with good ol' bacon and eggs. Courtyard made a big to-do about their Eggs Are It buffet in '07, and who could forget that awkward-funny Holiday Inn Express ad that encouraged hotel breakfast-eaters to act like they were at a singles mixer?

There's a whole lotta hype and a whole lotta competition, and we need your help to cut through it all: which budget hotel breakfasts are actually worth our time, and which hotels should we check into with our own granola bars in tow? We're not expecting custom-prepared omelets and white-truffle bagels here, we just want some non-rubber eggs and a decent glass of OJ. Where can we find 'em?

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[Photo: adobemac]

Archived Comments:

i dont eat the breakfast?

is that weird? i would rather go out to a real breakfast joint. but i always do enjoy a pastry and coffee. i also think european hotels do it better.

Me too

I usually skip hotel breakfast while on business trips, but I like when they've got coffee and some kind of bread thingy (bagel, toast, muffin, whatever), just to save a stop at a breakfast spot. Of course, if I'm on vacation, bring on any brek buffet you'll set in front of me. (But include it in the room price!)

Hampton Inn

Now, as far as consistency goes, this is probably one of the worst budget chains out there, but I do the research before I book one, and I can't say that I've ever had a bad breakfast at a Hampton.  There is always a hot option, along with fresh fruits, cereals, granola, and surprisingly bold and rich coffee.  I've stayed everywhere with free breakfast, and for my money, Hampton gets the vote

I'm a fan of HGI

I've always been a fan of the Hilton Garden Inn breakfasts -- i think the commercials seriously turned me off the holiday inn ones.

I remember the HGI in West Palm having a decent breakfast... pastries weren't stale, but expectations weren't really high. I can say with confidence, however, that most budget hotel breakfast bagels are the exact consistency of compacted wonderbread.

Hampton Inn

I actually enjoy the Hampton Inn breakfast oatmeal, yogurt and fruit simple & straight forward but they also have the breakfast in the to-go bag which usually contains a bottle of water, piece of fruit, cereal bar, muffin and Hampton Inn mints which we have deemed "Hotel Crack" because after the box is gone you always want more.

Why stop at breakfast?

Being quite cheap and often mid 12hr+ road trip, it's best for one to think of these breakfasts as your one stop shopping for the day. I had a horrible experience with some poorly disguised plastic as egg product at a Hawthorne Suites, but the bagel, muffin and apples were spectacular several hours later.

Most of these breakfast extravaganzas have the pre-portioned Belgian waffle makers, which not only provide an edible vehicle for the maple-corn-syrup but also some quality early morning people watching. Without question, the best is the cinnamon rolls of Holiday inn express.

They all suck

Lets be honest all the free breakfast are pretty gross!  I've stayed at more than 10 different chains and the ones w/ the free breakfast are horrible.

No such thing as a free breakfast

In my opinion, Embassy Suites does a nice free breakfast. You just have to watch out for the guy in the bathrobe with bed head who may or may not be hoarding a plate full of powdered donettes instead of ordering rooms service (that'd be me). I did however have one of the worst pancakes ever at an Embassy. It looked good enough to be a fake display and tasted like it too.

Hyatt Place

Hyatt Place is my favorite hotel breakfast. The bagels and pastries are fresh, good granola and yogurt plus honest-to-goodness fresh fruit - grapefruit sections, etc - that doesn't look like it is so full of chemicals it will live into the next millennium. I can't stand the usual hotel red delicious apples or navel oranges that taste like cork, or hockey puck bagels.

I'm a tea drinker, so really hot water thrills me. Hyatt Place has it, as well as good tea. For coffee drinkers, they use Starbucks coffee.

You can buy eggs, bacon, etc for an extra, but reasonable, charge.

The breakfast room is actually comfortable, too. Plus, I think eating with real silverware makes it feel more like a meal than using flimsy plasticware.

Hampton gets me percolating.

Definitely love the hot breakfast offerred by Hapmton Inn. The eggs are microwaved egg pattys, but if you build a sandwich it works. I'm not an egg girl anyways though. The waffles and the muffins make it all worth while. A full juice and coffee bar are sure to get your creative juices flowing for the day. Now, I'm hungry!

Does Wingate count as a budget hotel?

I like the Wingate breakfast, but I skip the microwaved eggs & bacon.  The waffle maker is a blast, I agree with commenter above that it makes for great people watching.  Usually when one person starts making one, other people see it and go "oh!  that's not hard!  I can do that!".  They also have apple, cranberry and orange juice that is palatable.  Wolfgang Puck coffee, um....and sugar-free syrup options for the waffles :)

I vote for embassy suites if it counts

Their breakfast buffet is awesome, you can even get a cooked to order omelette made for you.

I was disappointed by the Hyatt Place breakfast, the orange juice was horrible and my bagel was stale.


westin's new element brand is limited service and has an amazing offering, (+ looks sexy) http://i535.photobucket.com/albums/ee357/jrventana/ElementFood0123v2_CMYK.jpg


I don't trust those hotels for anything but packaged goods in the way of food. So if I were to stay at such a place, I'd maybe grab a handful of Cheerios and bolt.

breakfast at a residence Inn

We just stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriot on Emilia Island, FL. On Weekdays, they make omelets to order, have fresh fruit, and creamy oatmeal with all the fixings (granola, brown sugar, nuts, etc.) plus they have daily hot entrees in addition to all the other usual breakfast foods you will see. Thur - Sunday, the omelet station is not there but everything else is. It was by far the BEST free breakfast at any hotel chain! On Wed. evening, they served FREE hot dogs, chips, hamburgers with all the fixings, baked beans, salad, beer, wine, and soda. For the price, the best hotel ever!

Breakfast Reviews

I found a new website that rates hotel breakfasts. It is really useful when we are on the road and are looking for a good breakfast and a good hotel price. Mostly on the west coast. It's at travelbreakfast.com


At Hilton Garden Inn Times Square the only free breakfast we got was a ticket for a free bottle of water from their gift shop!


At Hilton Garden Inn Times Square the only free breakfast we got was a ticket for a free bottle of water from their gift shop!