How Has Coronavirus Changed Hotel Breakfast?

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

It goes without saying that hotel protocols have changed as a result of coronavirus. One of the things I was curious to observe during my trip was how hotels have adjusted their breakfast offerings, especially at limited service hotels that have free breakfast for all guests.

While presumably the exact protocols vary by hotel, here’s what I saw at the three hotels I’ve stayed at in recent days, two of which were limited service:

Breakfast at SpringHill Suites in Springdale, Utah

SpringHill Suites is a limited service Marriott brand that ordinarily offers a complimentary hot breakfast buffet for all guests in a breakfast room.

In light of the current situation, the hotel is instead offering guests a “to go” breakfast.

This consisted of a granola bar, some yogurt, an orange, a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich, some apple juice in a cup, and a… lollipop?!

Breakfast at Hyatt Place in Page, Arizona

Much like SpringHill Suites, Hyatt Place also offers free hot breakfast to guests (technically only to those who book direct, but in reality they rarely enforce that).

Unlike at SpringHill Suites, the Hyatt Place continued to have a breakfast buffet, but the selection was modified.

There was self serve coffee and juice, as usual.

The food selection was more limited than usual, and consisted mostly of packaged items. There were oranges and bananas, yogurt, instant oatmeal, and some bread.

Breakfast at Hoodoo Hilton Curio Collection in Moab, Utah

Curio Collection is a “full service” Hilton brand. Honors Diamond members receive a $15 per person breakfast credit to use in the restaurant. Since breakfast is a la carte, there are no changed to the breakfast service, other than blocking tables for distancing.

Bottom line

It’s interesting to see how hotels are evolving service to reflect current times. Obviously hotels that have an a la carte breakfast have to make the fewest changes.

The biggest changes will come for those hotels that offer free breakfast as a brand standard, given that buffets mostly aren’t a thing right now.

Understandably it will likely take hotel groups some time to optimize their offerings to reflect the times, especially as the situation continues to evolve. While SpringHill Suites went the “to go” route, Hyatt Place went the “packaged buffet” route.

If you’ve stayed at a hotel in recent weeks, how did the hotel handle breakfast? How would you like to see hotels evolve breakfast offerings?

  1. I usually stay at Executive suites at Ritz-Carlton or Conrad when in Tokyo or Hong-Kong (all paid of course, no credit card points)
    The service is still very good these days.

  2. My experience varies:
    – Brno, CZ (non-affilated property) around 30th May – No changes at all. Regular buffet breakfast provided. Some tables were blocked due to government requirements.
    – Budapest, HU (non-affilated property) around 5th June – Breakfast not provided due to the low demand (lack of guests). Instead, we were offer a breakfast at a nearby hotel run by the same company. This would be a choice of various pre-made packages (we skipped the option and went to a proper restaurant with normal service).
    – Prague, CZ (Park Inn) earlier this week – Most cold items were served in a normal way. The exception were cold cuts which were prepacked (I can’t wrap my head around how is the ham more dangerous than bakery items but OK). This led to quite some food waste – to get two slices of ham I wanted, I had to waste another 5 slices of ham/salami which came in the same package. Hot items were only available on demand, although I suspect this had commercial reasons rather than being a health meassure (the breakfast room was dead-empty).

    My conclusion is that unless hotel offers regular, non-restricted breakfast buffet, I’ll simply choose rates without breakfast. If I want to be served a la carte, I will prefer eating out – it usually offers much bigger variety of options and I’m not bound by silly restrictions created on the other side of the planet.

  3. The lollipops may be strange, but if I remember correctly, that is what the SS are known for (dum dum or similar lollipops). Kind of like chocolate chip cookies at double tree

  4. Park Hyatt in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. For globalists breakfast is free. All have in room breakfast where you can choose whatever you want off the menu. Melbourne also has a la carte service in their tea lounge. It was a little slow but in room dining was always on time. Never tried it in Canberra. Sydney has been in room except for Sunday which was a la carte but same menu as in room.

  5. I stayed at two 5 star properties (booked through the Preffered Platinum Programm) in Germany since March. They both offered their usual and extensive selection of a la carte breakfast, which was perfectly fine and much better than any pre packed snacks.

  6. I’m staying in Hyatt Centric SF this week. They told me that there is no breakfast service, but they will be giving me 500 points per night as a result.

  7. I am currently staying in Crowne plaza in Doha. Here breakfast is delivered to room, if your booking includes breakfast. its fixed menu from last three months šŸ™

  8. This weekend, the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale gave us a $38/day credit towards breakfast for the 2 of us in the one restaurant on property which is open. And since the most expensive item in the limited breakfast menu is $18, that pretty much covers all but the gratuity.

  9. Stayed at a Homes 2 Suites Thursday night and the breakfast was reduced to bags of various fruit and pre made sandwiches that you could heat up in microwave. Besides the obligatory coffee/tea urns that was it. Unfortunate but not unexpected. I always viewed breakfast as a perk not a requirement or deal breaker. So the lack of does not move the needle too much. The Comfort Inn I stayed at the previous week did away with the breakfast service altogether other than the coffee/water. At home I intermittent fast usually only eat between 12 noon and 8 pm. However when traveling I usually eat breakfast just to make sure I am good for the trip. This time I brought a protein shake packet and an oatmeal packet and just ate in the room. The Homes 2 Suites by Hilton rooms are full service living with kitchenware so it was very convenient to basically eat like I was at home. I imagine this will be the case for the foreseeable future until we know where this is going.

  10. Stayed at a Loews last weekend. No a la carte breakfast, only grab and go. Options looked fresh and delicious, but I opted to use my $60 FHR breakfast credit on a bottle of wine instead.

  11. I’m currently at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, all facilities are closed and room service is only from 5AM-10AM then again from 5PM-10PM. The lobby is totally deserted with only 2 staff working, definitely an eerie visit, this place is usually buzzing with activity.

  12. Weā€™re staying in the black forest in Germany and breakfast is wonderful. No big buffet to choose from but just a menu at the table where you choose some different options (including champagne ) and they bring the basics to every single table. Just great and to be honest a lot more comfortable then big buffets. They have this post corona thing nailed here.

  13. Since the risk of infection from food handling is low- to non-existent, I would venture to say the removal of hot food from breakfast buffets is in reality about spoilage due to low guest counts. Once that food is in the hot tray, it canā€™t be saved for the next day. It goes in the trash. Maybe itā€™s just not cost-efficient to source and prepare hot food with such reduced business. But yeah, this is not about your safety, which is nothing more than a convenient and timely excuse.

  14. @Jonathan – I have stayed in 2 Holiday Inn Express hotels since the lock down ended. In both cases they had “grab and go” bags for breakfast. Frankly, I passed on both of them since the items were basically a muffin in a package and a protein bar. Not nearly as nice as the first one Lucky posted above. Maybe just me but I’m pretty picky about what I eat (cardiac issues will do that to you) and having something that was over half the daily sodium allowance (the muffin) and filled with all kinds of chemicals just didn’t do it for me. I’m sure there are some that will take the bags, especially because they are “free”, but I pass on them. I’m not much of a breakfast person anyway since I feel it adds to overall weight gain and would only typically have low fat yogurt and fruit so not missing much by passing on the bag.

    I have stayed in 2 Hampton Inns as well. One had the “to go bag” and the other was serving breakfast, instead of having a buffet, with staff behind a table putting eggs, turkey sausage and potatoes in a “go to” stryofoam container. The coffee was also handed out here. There was another table where you could get yogurt, cereal and fruit.

    Basically, even within brands, you experience will vary.

    The only thing I miss is coffee dispensers in the lobby since it is typically much better than what can be made in the room (although the last Holiday Inn Express I stayed in had a Keurig machine).

    Understand that, while I agree hotels can use COVID to cut back service, many are trying to do something and the prepackaged items are safe to hand out – just not, IMHO, very healthy or something people should eat.

  15. I stayed at the DoubleTree in Del Mar, CA last weekend. As a Diamond member I expected a free breakfast and was looking forward to room service dinner. Neither happened as the restaurant remained closed. The reason….wait for it… Their restaurant staff was and still are earning more from our gov’ts enhanced unemployment benefits than they do working at the Doubletree so no one is coming back to work until that ends. I told them they could rescind their benefits by refusing to come back to work and the front desk staff just shrugged their shoulders. I was not happy. They did comp my parking fees of $15.00 per night, but I cared more about having food on property than anything else and they failed miserably. At least they had their cookies.

  16. On Monday night I stayed at the Denver Airport Marriott. Elites had the option of an a la carte menu with coffee starting at $3 for a small cup and several other outrageously priced items or a grab and go bag. I opted for the grab and go. It had a Tropicana Juice bottle, yogurt, granola in a package and a Nature Valley bar. It was fine. I walked across the street to the Residence Inn to check out their options. They had their complimentary coffee station up and running and a fruit bowl with apples and oranges.

    On a side note, the Marriott’s airport shuttle was running hourly and the RI shuttle was suspended…

  17. Stayed at Residence Inn San Diego Bayfront last weekend (co-location with SpringHill suites). Buffet was closed. They offered 2 different options each morning in a ToGo brown bag. Usually 1 choice was a type of Egg dish that could be reheated. It was actually pretty good. It always came with a yogurt, granola bar, and orange.

  18. The problem with buffets is all those high-touch public utensils. When you pick up a serving spoon or tongs you just don’t know who touched it last with who knows what on their hands. And the same is true for those juice and coffee dispensers in your above photos. And it would also be true for family style serving.

    The solution is to have a staff person serving and not letting guests handle the serving utensils, as I’ve seen in a review of an airport lounge. Alternatively issue each guest with serving utensils and clean them in between guests.

  19. How could you eat a la carte breakfast? What if an asymptomatic super spreader was working in the kitchen? Seems mighty risky for Covid cooties

  20. Just more evidence that its not worthwhile to travel now in areas where the pandemic continues.

  21. @GringoLoco the same way I’ve been eating food prepared by commercial establishments this whole time? I assume they are abiding by food safety requirements

  22. Just did a 30-day roadtrip around the U.S., mostly staying at Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, and Holiday Inn Express type properties (we were traveling with a dog). Almost universally breakfast consisted of a brown bag of unhealthy, highly processed food. Usually an Otis Spunkmeyer muffin, a granola bar, bottle of water, and maybe a piece of fresh fruit. Only one time did we get a microwaveable breakfast sandwich (which was much appreciated as at least this gave us a small amount of protein amongst that sea of sugar/carbs).

  23. Alarmists alert. You canā€™t get coronavirus by eating it…

    If you feel the need to touch your breakfast then smear it over your nose, then covid is the least of your issues.

    A la carte is completely safe.

  24. I stayed at some hotels in these few weeks. I could not travel so I did spend my time mostly on staycations with the good price.

    At Fourseasons Jakarta I had in room breakfast (choices of Indonesian Breakfast, American Breakfast, Continental Breakfast or Chinese Breakfast).

    At Raffles Jakarta, I could choose to have in room breakfast or breakfast at the pool. I did choose breakfast at the pool, it was a la carte breakfast.

    At Grand Hyatt Jakarta, the restaurant was open so I had an ala carte breakfast at the restaurant.

    At Fairmont Jakarta, I had in room breakfast (You could choose Indonesian breakfast, continental breakfast etc).

    At Kempinski Jakarta, yesterday they served breakfast buffet. Options were limited but I was happy it’s a buffet.

  25. Our Novotel served made-to-order breakfast from a very(!) limited menu: Asian breakfast, continental breakfast, or American breakfast. Coffee, tea, and juices were self-served, though.

  26. Hakone Hyatt Regency served a choice of Western or Japanese breakfast, which was multi course. If you wanted more of anything they brought it. A large bottle of Perrier was brought when I requested sparkling water. All covered by globalist benefits. It was lovely.

  27. i agree Scott so many people-former hotel-restaurant workers etc esp in california are making more $$$staying out of work thanks to the fed and state government hand-outs ..and many states are extending till good luck with getting staffing

  28. I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in CA recently. They had a staff member working the buffet and serving what you requested from a limited menu. They had pancakes, breakfast burritos and a few other things. Even coffee was from the staff member. I think it was all setup so guests don’t have to touch food service items like tongs and the coffee pot handles.

  29. @AC The springhill suites at Zion NP is a very nice one (and expensive). Probably the nicest Springhill I stayed in. So that would explain the nice breakfast bag.

    helpfull post since travelling starts slowly and I need to now what to expect at the different brands. (if I would pay for RC or St regis I would be pissed of if there would be a breakfast bag)

  30. In May, I stayed at a Hampton Inn in Hendersonville, NC (bag with bottle of water, that tea/lemonade mix packet, packaged muffin, granola bar and saran-wrapped apple), a Courtyard in Richmond (bag with granola bar, packaged muffin, water) and a Hilton Garden Inn in Charlotte (table set up with bottled juices, yogurt, cereal cups and fruit). None of these locations had coffee or tea available.

  31. We just stayed at the Sheraton Hotel and Resort on East Panama City Beach, FL. They only had a little cafe/bar where you could get a Starbucks and some packaged items. Quite disappointing to me, because having my time sitting at breakfast is a favorite thing for me to do….so we just went to an outside breakfast place. I was also disappointed in the dining room/bar option. Dining rooms could have been at 50% capacity with outdoor seating available, but instead they only had their “dining room” near the pool…all outside with the accompanying fluorescent lighting…we again opted to eat else where. Very nice and comfortable hotel….but lacking the amenities we look forward to.

  32. im shocked at how many people in the comments have stayed in hotels recently and are travelling during a PANDEMIC.


  33. I stayed at an aloft a month ago. The usually have a buffet, but had made to order breakfast, eggs, bacon, sausage. Was really good!

  34. I’ve never cared for the free breakfast at mid-range hotels encountered on your average Hyatt house or the, where they don’t have a kitchen and everything that is available is pre-cooked. Rubbery frozen Sysco omelets or crumbly dry eggs. And for some strange reason I won’t feel deprived if I can’t make my own waffles from premixed batter that’s loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. Likewise the pastries and other food-like products that are just a junk food sugar fest. To boot all served on plastic.

    From what I’ve seeen, the answer is hotels will simply entomb their breakfasts in even more individual sized styrofoam and plastic to add to the mountain of waste we already generate.

    Much better in Europe where you can get fresh food and it is served on China, even in a HI Express.

  35. Staying at the Hampton inn, SC;
    The likelihood of transmission of Covid from food or utensils is practically non-existent! However at this particular HI we are not permitted to even get our own coffee. They have the buffet area closed off and one person waiting on guests to serve them their selections. I do not think this type of restricted service is doing anything except very obviously reducing costs for the hotel. I have been with HI Honors for many years but will likely make a change unless they return to their previous ( modified for Covid version) of service. Socially distancing and wearing a mask is part of my life but guests can still do those things and serve themselves breakfast. I remain hopeful that HI will look at their current processes and make some changes to the way they handle their buffet areas!

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.