Hotel Club Lounge Vs. Restaurant Breakfast: Which Do You Prefer?

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Today marks my two week anniversary of living in hotels, and to be honest it’s still very much “business as usual.” I feel the same way I felt on day four, which I guess isn’t really surprising since I’ve stayed within 150 miles of Seattle the whole time. That’s because I’ve still been finishing up my move, and the “real” traveling fun starts later this month.

Anyway, I’ve spent much of the past two weeks at the Hyatt Olive 8 and Grand Hyatt, which are Hyatt’s two “full service” properties in Seattle. They’re actually sister properties and share one general manager, as they’re located just one block apart. I do find that a bit odd, since you’d think to some degree they’re cannibalizing their own business by having two properties so close to one another with virtually the same rates. But I guess Seattle isn’t really an over-saturated hotel market, so it works for them.

As a Gold Passport Diamond member, one of the major differences is that the Grand Hyatt has a club lounge while the Hyatt Olive 8 doesn’t. As a Diamond member you get complimentary club lounge access, and in the event that the hotel doesn’t have a club lounge, you get full restaurant breakfast.

The Hyatt Olive 8 happens to have one of the most generous breakfast benefits out there, as you can have breakfast for up to four people of $26.50 each as part of the Diamond breakfast benefit (so it’s basically a $106 breakfast credit). I don’t think I’ve gone over $30 any day, but they sure are generous.

There are pros and cons to both hotels, though as a Diamond member one question I’ve been asking myself is whether I prefer restaurant breakfast or a club lounge at a hotel.

There are pros and cons to each:

Pros to a club lounge:

  • Easy access to drinks all day, so I don’t ever have to purchase water or soft drinks (then again, Seattle has some of the best tap water in the country, so I usually just drink sink water here anyway)
  • When you work on your laptop all day from a hotel room, it’s nice to have a change of scenery, so I do enjoy sitting in the club lounge for an hour or two in the mornings and evenings (which I supplement by visiting different coffee shops throughout the day)
  • Evening happy hour, which in the US isn’t exactly good (outside of the US it can easily be a dinner substitute, though in many cases I’ll just have a big lunch and then some snacks in the club lounge in the evening)

Grand Hyatt Seattle Grand Club fridge

Grand Hyatt Seattle Grand Club happy hour spread

Grand Hyatt Seattle Grand Club happy hour spread

Pros to restaurant breakfast:

  • “Real” food that’s actually filling and can be reasonably healthy (edible fresh fruit, egg white omelet, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Actual high quality coffee drinks in the morning that don’t come out of a machine
  • As silly as it sounds, it’s easier for me to start my day if I’m having breakfast at a restaurant, since I’ll shower and wear “real” clothes (trust me, as a stay-at-homehotel blogger this is a real challenge)

Urbane Restaurant at Hyatt Olive 8 Seattle egg white omelet

Urbane Restaurant at Hyatt Olive 8 cappuccino

So which do you prefer — restaurant breakfast or club lounge access? Vote in the poll at the top of the post, and if you have further thoughts, let me know in the comments section below!

Filed Under: Hotels
  1. No choice for both? I love being able to have the full restaurant buffet breakfast, then some heavy appetizers in the evenings. Saves a fortune on food in expensive cities (though I think I gain 5 pounds on every vacation).

  2. Not even close – the restaurant breakfast. I find the lounge offerings fairly limited, and most lounges I have frequented are cramped.

  3. I think it really depends on where I’m at and who I’m with. If I’m with my family, I can save $ by having snacks and drinks from the lounge. If I’m by myself, I’d rather just go to a nearby CVS/Walgreens and buy some bottles of water then have a good breakfast the following morning.

  4. It depends on the club lounge. I find the one at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle especially dismal as far as any real food or drink.
    I stayed at the Hyatt Churchill in London last week and the Club lounge was tremendous. Morning and night.
    Last night I was at the Hyatt 8 which I prefer in Seattle and I actually ate in the restaurant for breakfast this morning, and as you mention it was great. I say this because I usually stay there and have breakfast thru room service which they also allow. I do wonder why Hyatt which is hardhearted in the US decided to make their US lounges so poor compared to their international hotel lounges.

  5. Finishing my Diamond status challange at the Hyatt Century City right now on your recommendation, using my SPG plat status. I’m Wondering why I did this as the “club lounge” is dreadful… Breakfast is really scary. But I’m keeping my focus as I’m looking forward to my suite nights at better, Park Hyatt, properties… Have not had the breakfast in the restaurant as they have a lounge. Needless to say I’ve not had breakfast at all.

  6. Depends on the hotel. At some, the club breakfast is limited and at others, the club offers the buffet with the option to order egg dishes made to order.

    I usually try both if I can but am biased to a restaurant breakfast if i hoave a choice.

  7. With Hilton you get lounge access and restaurant breakfast as a Diamond. Obviously this is of little relevance in the States given the generally poor state of their lounges, but in the Far East and in continental Europe this can work out as a really nice combo! At the Hilton London Metropole I also sometimes just opt for the lounge if I only want a quick breakfast or if the queue at the restaurant is too long (eg if a tour group are staying)

  8. A Restaurant Breakfast, hands down.

    I was staying at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco, and booked a Club Room, where amusingly the rate was cheaper when I chose the rate that included the full restaurant breakfast buffet.

    The club has nice views of the SF Bay and Coit Tower, but it had an awful breakfast (scrambled eggs, no croissants, supermarket yogurt) and was awfully packed with people. And ZERO SERVICE, no one around to clear your plates.

    The next morning, went downstairs to the restaurant to get the buffet breakfast. Excellent fresh eggs, sunny-side-up, servers provided jams & refilled juices, fresh yogurt made from the kitchens, fresh pastries and croissants, crispy bacon, healthy servings of fresh fruits such as berries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.

    Cannot be compared. The only thing the Grand Hyatt SF club lounge had going for it was the views. The Intercontinental SF has a much better Club as the food quality is 3X better, plus a free flow of alcohol during Happy Hour. You had to pay for alcohol at the Grand Hyatt SF club lounge. Shame.

  9. Very hotel dependent, and day dependent.

    Weekends – restaurant.
    Weekdays – lounge, unless restaurant is awesome enough to get up a half hour earlier to enjoy (like the Palace in SF). I usually just want to grab something in 15 minutes total on a workday.

  10. That is such a hard choice! If we are staying somewhere and plan to spend a lot of time at the hotel (like when we stay at the Grand Hyatt Kauai) I love the lounge. The breakfast is usually great and it’s nice to drop in throughout the day.

    If we are planning on being out most of the day, I don’t care as much either way.

    When we were in Hong Kong, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt and although I loved the lounge for it’s views, the breakfast was much better at the restaurant and was still a buffet.

    By far though, the best hotel breakfast we have ever had was at the St. Regis Bali where it is included in your room rate.

  11. It really depends on the property. The Grand hyatt NYC and Regencys in in Honolulu, Tampa and Coral Gables all had great offerings for breakfast from their lounges. Most of the others have been disappointing to say the least. The problem with the full restaurant breakfast is having the time to use the credit.

  12. I think for US hotels, a restaurant breakfast would be preferable but it’s nice to have some way to get free drinks/water when needed.

    On a related note, I wish SPG Platinum had the same rules (if no lounge, free breakfast) but I guess we can elect breakfast as an amenity in lieu of points.

  13. In the US, where lounges are often a cramped joke with awful food, I’d go with restaurant breakfast. Worldwide, or for long stays, it’s lounge access hands down.

  14. I love the lounges, especially in Europe and Asia where they have more in the evening and usually cocktails gratis. Having said that I love Urbane at the Olive8 so it depends so much on the property.

  15. Hyatt Olive 8 Bacon is thinner and more greasy than at Grand Hyatt though I may have had an off day or 3. Olive 8 feels newer but Grand Hyatt feels more “substantial”. Both can survive because of conventions.

  16. Restaurant breakfast. Hilton has the worst lounges in the US. I nominate Hilton Boston Back Bay as the worst lounge ever- the room reminds me of an oversized prison cell with no windows. You do however have the opportunity to peak at the lucky ones who don’t qualify for elites benefits. They’re the ones eating in adjacent restaurant – full buffet and attractive views of the city. Oh, and Fox is usually blasting on the lounge TV.

  17. For me depends on the hotel, the Omin hotels have a full breakfast in their lounge that rival other hotel restaurant. But if you are truly using miles, points and status you use what the hotel gives….

  18. Hi lucky, here is the question: I will start with my hyatt diamond challenge before my big family (total 8 person) trip to chicago. Since we will have two rooms, but I will be the only one with diamond membership. So I assume we can only have 4 free breakfast or maybe 4 lounge access, am I correct? Is there any way all of us can get free breakfast besides apply another diamond challenge?


  19. @ Wes — In my experience hotels will typically grant Diamond benefits for multiple rooms if booked by the Diamond member.

  20. I much prefer the lounge.

    In a lounge, I don’t feel obligated to leave a tip, which may or may not be covered by the diamond program. Also I often find I am leaving early to get to meetings, appointments or flights and don’t have time to sit down, order, pay the bill and check out. If there is a lounge, I can just be on my way.

    In Seattle, the Grand is my go-to hotel and much prefer it to the Olive 8 in a big part because it has a lounge.

  21. A bit surprised you are paying top dollar for these luxury hotels in lieu of rent. Thought you would be maximizing award stays and Points Breaks in order to keep costs at least somewhat in line with perhaps a luxury apartment.

  22. @ Carl — Long term that’s the goal. For the first two weeks I’ve still been in the process of getting everything set up and getting my stuff sent to Florida. The fun starts later this week!

  23. I stayed at the Olive 8 last night to finish a Diamond challenge in a very spacious (small apartment) suite………what I thought was great about their property was the great full size 3 lane lap pool where I swam a mile and spacious steam and sauna ……….then when I had bumped up against the end of the breakfast hour I kindly asked for a transfer to lunch instead……….while they let me know they didn’t do that on a regular basis they did a one time exception……..Olive 8 was such a fantastic property and great location that I already have another Seattle trip planned…………..

  24. @wes We are getting ready for a trip with some friends and will have two rooms booked. My husband is the only one with diamond status and he confirmed when we called to make the reservations that as long as the rooms were both booked on his account, the diamond benefits would extend to the second room. They told us that our friends can even use their card to pay for the room. You can always call to verify if you have any questions. We’ve had great experiences with Hyatt customer service.

  25. It depends on the hotel.
    In some hotels the club lounges are spectacular. Some time ago I just lived in the club lounge for 4 days. The food spread was great and the drinks were really high quality.
    In each case I’m not a breakfast person, so I would ALWAYS choose club lounge if I can.

  26. Depends on which hotel. The Hyatt Regency in Santiago, Chile has a spread every morning and evening that is a full breakfast and dinner and free drinks in the evening! We would take some items from breakfast back to our room and use it for lunch. At the time, it was only 8k points per night! I suggest you relocate there. You will never need to buy food again!

    The Hyatt Regency in Long Beach was pretty bad in the evening. However, breakfast was decent. Cereal, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs and fruit.

  27. Restaurant, hands down. The economics just win out – and I don’t really mean value for the money, at least not directly.

    Club Lounges are offered as an elite perk or as part of a club room rate. It’s lumped in, and it’s never clear what you’ll actually get until you show up and look. They range from awesome to awful.

    Restaurants, on the other hand, have menus and prices. They sell to everyone at the hotel, and even some people who aren’t guests. While hotel restaurants can be expensive, they generally need to offer at least a decent value to remain viable.

    In other words, restaurants compete for more wallets than club lounges do, so in general I’ve found the offerings at restaurants to be competitively “better” than those from club lounges.

  28. Definitely prefer the restaurant breakfast if it’s the full buffet or allows ordering off the menu. But best of all is when you get lounge access and then have the option of either breakfast in the lounge or restaurant. Sometimes you need something fast and the lounge is always faster. And as you say you can usually get drinks all day and sometimes some evening snacks.

  29. I voted “restaurant breakfast”, because I’m usually with family and we usually are out the rest of the day. But if I was on my own I’d prefer the club lounge access.

  30. hey lucky . I’m at the grand Hyatt Jakarta and they said that as part of my diamond benefits i could have breakfast buffet in either the club lounge or the restaurant . Is this normal ?

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