What to Do When Breakfast Hours at Hotels Do Not Fit Your Travel Schedule

“I t seems a bit of a cruel joke when on holiday. You finally get away from the office with your loved one, enjoy a romantic evening, and then sleep in for the first time in months. Ensconced in a pile of cozy pillows you imagine starting your day together with pancakes and leisurely cups of coffee. You snake your arm out from underneath the duvet and inch the clock toward you. 10:23am. You groan, remembering that the hotel said breakfast ended at 10am.”

This is the opinion of Melinda Danielsen of Magic of Miles in this article she wrote pertaining to why breakfast hours at many hotel properties are not extended until 11:00 in the morning or later. “Oftentimes a lazy breakfast is just what you want when staying at a hotel for vacation, but the hotel doesn’t always agree on the time you’d like to keep it open until because hotels often cater to business travelers as well. At some properties where a buffet is available, it is not uncommon to see staff stop refilling the bowls and clearing items away more than half an hour before it closes.”

What to Do When Breakfast Hours at Hotels Do Not Fit Your Travel Schedule

One question which immediate came to mind is at the other end of the spectrum, so to speak: why breakfasts at hotel properties are typically not available before 6:00 in the morning. The same valid and plausible reasons which Melinda Danielsen offers in her article apply here, too — but that is of no use when there is a flight which departs at 6:00 in the morning or earlier and you have to be at the airport no later than 5:00 in the morning. There is nothing like being bleary-eyed and hungry with no options for food while it is still dark outside as you wish you were still sleeping back in that comfortable bed upstairs…

…and imagine doing that — skipping breakfast in the process — only to rush to the airport and find out that your flight had just been canceled until the next day. That is what happened to me, as the next flight was not scheduled to depart for another 24 hours — and I could have enjoyed a good breakfast that morning. Oh, well…

Some hotel properties offer a service where small bags of provisions are prepared in advance which you can grab and go with you, which is a nice gesture. Others may allow you to place an order the night before and have it ready at that ungodly hour. Unfortunately, you are more typically left to your own devices and have few options — such as purchasing some overpriced and unappetizing food at the airport…

Be Prepared for a “Famine”

…or you can do what I do and ensure that there are snacks in your bag which will be enough to sustain you until you are either served something aboard the airplane or until you arrive at your destination or stopover airport. That — combined with a serving of orange juice aboard the airplane — is enough for me to be good to go, as they say.

You should have at least a few snack options — which are not easily perishable, of course — to carry around with you as often as possible in order to alleviate your hunger during those times when you are not sure when you will be able to enjoy your next meal. Your flight could end at a time when concessions at the airport are already closed or have not opened yet; and you are preparing to drive two hours to your destination — which could be a hotel property with no restaurant on site or nearby, for example.

I personally carry sealed items such as pretzels, chocolate, and small boxes of cereal — which at least offer some nutrients — to name a few examples; but they must eventually be consumed and replaced, as they can become stale or melted over time.

In other words: be prepared for a “famine” — defined in this case as a long stretch of time where little to no food is available due to your travel schedule, which could potentially include irregular operations to exacerbate the “famine.”

Go to Sleep Earlier

If you really need your sleep, there is no need to miss breakfast in the morning. Simply retire to bed earlier to get a fresh start in the morning if you really need that much sleep.

I am basically a “night person” — it is not unusual for me to stay up as late as 6:00 in the morning — who is cursed with an appreciation for mornings. If I could, I would be both a night person and a morning person without requiring a nap during the day — but I do not believe that staying up for weeks at a time is good for my health. I have been known to do “all nighters” up to 50 hours without sleeping, though. Perhaps that is one reason why I can still function after being a passenger on an overnight flight and not need to be comfortably “ensconced in a pile of cozy pillows” — that statement is so Melinda Danielsen; and I hope she does not change — until later that evening.

It may even be one of the factors why I do not experience the phenomenon known as jet lag — but I digress as usual.

Despite my being a diehard night person, I have no issue with retiring to sleep as early as 9:00 in the evening if I want to enjoy breakfast the next morning — or if I need to catch a flight departing at 6:00 in the morning. Assuming that you do not wake up until 9:00 the next morning, that is 12 hours of sleep. I am not sure how much more sleeping in you would need after that…

Perform At Least Some of Your Personal Hygiene Routines Until After Breakfast

…and if you can hold off on your morning hygiene, you can even defer routines such as brushing your teeth and showering until after breakfast. This way, you have a full breakfast inside you to satisfy you; and when you return to your hotel room, you can put out the Do Not Disturb sign and securely lock the door of your hotel room before you leisurely shower, shave, brush your teeth — and engage in any other habits of personal hygiene which will get you ready for your now-abbreviated day.

If, however, your hair looks like you put your finger in an electrical outlet while your breath or armpits emit toxic gases capable of instantly exterminating any living being within ten miles of you, you might want to reconsider this suggestion — or, at least, ensure that vital personal hygienic habits are satisfied before indulging in breakfast and complete the not-so-vital ones after breakfast.

Take a Nap After Breakfast

If you really need to catch up on your sleep but want to partake in breakfast offered at the hotel, consider taking a nap after breakfast. Yes, it will cut into your day in terms of time; and no, this suggestion is not for everyone. Once I am awake, I am awake and I usually do not need to go back to sleep — but this is an option to consider, just the same.

Summary

Breakfast is the meal which I favor the least, as I much prefer lunch or dinner. Still, there is nothing like a satisfying leisurely breakfast to start the day; and if one is available to me — especially if it is complimentary for me — I will ensure that I will be awake in time to partake in it.

As an example, the breakfast buffet at Hilton Fujairah Resort — which is included with the room rate — was outstanding, in my opinion; and only part of this extensive breakfast buffet is shown in the photograph at the top of this article. Please be on the lookout for a review of my stay at this hotel property in a future article.

If you follow even one of the suggestions posted in this article, you have the possibility of having your cake and eating it too — if chocolate cake is your idea of breakfast, with no apologies to Bill Cosby — meaning that eating a leisurely breakfast and still get your much-needed sleep is indeed doable, depending on your priorities…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

14 thoughts on “What to Do When Breakfast Hours at Hotels Do Not Fit Your Travel Schedule”

  1. alexander says:

    I wish brunch buffet was offered 10AM-2PM that’s my time of day.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I would be with you on that, alexander — but the problem with that is that it splits up the day; and when I travel, I like to get as much done as possible without sacrificing the quality of my visit to wherever I am at that time.

      For me, the middle of the day is perfect if I have little to nothing scheduled on that day…

  2. Melinda says:

    I do the same as you Brian, and bring some granola bars or whatnot in my suitcase. It is nice when at least coffee and tea are set up in the lobby for those with early morning departures, but if not at least there is the small comfort of having a snack.

    It’s useless for me to think about forgoing any personal hygiene until after breakfast. I probably wouldn’t leave the room un-showered even if the hotel was on fire. Not a great travel habit I suppose, but true. :p

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      The first thing I thought when I read what you wrote is that that shower you must take would probably put out that hotel fire, Melinda.

      More often than not, I do my personal hygiene — such as a shower — prior to going to sleep for the evening, which of course gives me more time for breakfast in the morning…

  3. Kathy Redick says:

    The breakfast has a value. I’m a night person too, and dread getting up for breakfast, even though I enjoy it when I drag myself there. Frequently, I ask at check-in if I can substitute the breakfast for an equal value lunch voucher. I have never been refused. Even if they cap it at $25, I can roll over and enjoy those pillows; and then enjoy a leisurely lunch.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a great idea about which I had never thought, Kathy Redick.

      The reason why I have never thought about it is that I usually am not at the hotel during the day; but I wonder if your idea would work when requesting a voucher towards dinner for that evening…

  4. Joseph N. says:

    I can attest to your suggestions. I’ve tried them and they work.

    In hotels I have learned to make an effort to go to bed with the breakfast hours in mind. As the sleep experts say: set your alarm to tell you when to go to sleep, not when to wake up.

    I always run down to breakfast before showering, even if I have time. If I have that much time in the morning, I’ll hit the exercise room, not take a shower, before breakfast. That leads to your next suggestion: a nap after a big breakfast and a turn on the elliptical machine is the best part of the day. Unless I’m checking out, then I’ll be asking for a late checkout.

    Carrying a protein bar goes without saying when traveling. Not just for hotels, but airplanes as well, I always try to have a protein bar and/or peanuts somewhere in my bags.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for not only attesting to my suggestions, Joseph N.; but also for imparting your experiences. I appreciate it.

      Additionally, brushing your teeth after breakfast is a good idea to ensure that your teeth are clean — but do not do it too soon after drinking juices with citric acid such as orange juice and grapefruit juice, as the acid could eat at the protective enamel on your teeth. The duration of returning to your hotel room and taking a shower should be enough time between breakfast and brushing your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water to wash away as much of the acid as possible before brushing your teeth after drinking juice.

  5. Lu says:

    My best breakfast experience was at Best Western Plus Stockholm Bromma. As an airport hotel, breakfast was available before 6am and take-away boxes were available. The food variety was amazing and there were meats available. I was catching a SN early morning flight to BRU. Packed lots of food and it ended up being my breakfast and lunch unexpectedly.

  6. VG says:

    Yes, the limited hours for breakfast are a pain. My spouse grumbles at getting up on vacation so early, and on business travel I have missed countless breakfasts because they weren’t open early enough.
    I like to go back to the room after breakfast to groom for the day. That gets to my real complaint, if you put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign in even for a few minutes, housekeeping checks off your room and it will never get cleaned. If you don’t put out the sign during breakfast, they will invariably be cleaning your bathroom when you need it.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I have had that happen to me as well, VG.

      In the rare event that I happen to be in my hotel room during the afternoon and find my room still has not been visited by members of the housekeeping staff, a quick telephone call or visit with an agent at the front desk usually resolves that issue.

  7. Sid says:

    I had an Embassy Suites in Nashville offer custom breakfast hours. The employee who would be responsible for setting up the breakfast overheard our conversation in the lobby about having to leave before the breakfast hours in order to catch a flight. He walked over and asked what time we would need breakfast and what we would like prepared. At 5:00 a.m. the next morning we had scrambled eggs and bacon ready when we came down. Great customer service.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is great customer service, Sid.

      Did you mean the Embassy Suites in Nashville itself; or the one by the airport?

      1. Sid says:

        Actually it was the one by the airport. I also gave them a great online review after that.

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