The Continental Breakfast
One of the few things I look for in a hotel when I am browsing for a place to hang my hat on the road, outside of free parking - that’s another blog post coming - is the continental breakfast. I like to be able to walk down with my Grandpa Munster morning hair, eyes still foggy with sleep, and fix me a small plate of food and a mug of coffee. Actually, I like the coffee to be in the room with me so it can be fixed as soon as I wake, but that’s just to get me down to the coffee waiting at the breakfast. In case you are unaware, a continental breakfast consists of coffee or tea and light pastries and a roll. Way too light of a breakfast for me.
This breakfast is also self-serve, usually set up in a buffet style. Hey, they fixed this free food; don’t expect them to hand it to you, as well. Be grateful that it’s hot. Usually there is one poor lady trying to keep up with the demand for food by reheating more of it in a tiny room and bringing it steaming hot out to the counters. She’s been up since an ungodly hour and is now having to deal with hotel guests who haven’t completely woken up, yet. And she isn’t being tipped.
Not every hotel offers the continental breakfast. Some have a small hotel restaurant that they would rather you eat at for an average of $10.99 a plate. For those who do offer it, the substance varies depending on the manager more than the hotel chain. Some offer the basic coffee, juice and three day old donuts such as our experience at the Americas in Gainesville. Others offer a luxurious spread with eggs, waffles, pancakes, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, cereal, pastries, bagels, and an assortment of fruits and yogurts. This doesn’t even have to be at the more expensive hotels either. I have found that most of the more costly establishments don’t even offer the continental breakfast. The more reasonably priced hotels use it as a means to attract guests to their place of business. A wise move as it attracts me.
The term refers to the continent of Europe, which has lighter breakfasts than we do in the States. We prefer heartier stuff in our morning meal, which is probably why we are heftier people, thicker around the middle. Still, it’s one of the ways I judge a hotel and try to get the most out of my buck for staying there.
It can also be quite peaceful, depending on when you go down. When Char and I used to chaperone the boys’ youth trips, we would venture down just after six when the rest of the hotel was sound asleep and enjoy a quiet breakfast before the screaming teenagers woke up. Now the girls and I sleep in a little longer and venture down to people watch while consuming our morning nourishment.
This past weekend, we stayed at a Best Western in Miami. Well, actually it was Doral just to one side of Miami, but it all seemed the same to me, one big mess of traffic and madness. The hotel staff was extremely pleasant and helpful and the hotel was well-kept and clean. The room we stayed in was a tad stuffy from being closed up, but the maid quickly put an air freshener over the air conditioner and that took care of that in short order. Over all, it was a fantastic place to stay. The breakfast was the only downfall. It was a cheap imitation of their usual fare with powdered eggs, those mini weenies that are served at parties and not meant for breakfast and massive waffles. We skipped the eggs and had waffles and cereal. It wasn’t the best offering we have had, but it put food in our stomach that morning and then the following morning, we skipped the continental breakfast and went to Burger King. Still, they had tried.
The more the girls and I travel, the more we tend to look for in the places we stay. Do they have an iron and ironing board in the room that we don’t have to walk across the parking lot to the office to borrow? Is there a coffee maker in the room to keep me from killing someone by the time I get to wherever it is downstairs? Finally, what type of breakfast do they serve before 9 a.m. that will fill my belly? For us, these are important questions we have learned to ask along the journey. What do you look for in a hotel?
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