hotel breakfast buffet

Don’t get overwhelmed by options. Learn how to hack the buffet. (Photo: Marriott International)

Eat + Drink

Spoiled for Choice: How to Get the Most from Your Free Hotel Breakfast Buffet

We’ve all heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s true. Breakfast “breaks the fast” from sleeping through the night, gets your metabolism going and gives you energy to power through the morning until your next meal.

Whether you’re traveling for work or vacation, eating a decent breakfast will help you stay more focused so you can stay awake during that morning presentation or take in every last one of the sights you came to see.

With more and more hotels offering free breakfast buffets, you don’t even have get up even earlier to go to a café or restaurant before starting your day. But the options can be overwhelming: Should you get a bagel? Load up on bacon? Go with eggs and oatmeal? Or maybe you’re tempted to just grab one of everything.

Don’t succumb to the overwhelming choices — with a little strategy, you can make the most of your hotel’s breakfast buffet and walk away feeling completely satisfied without being stuffed.

Here are a few of our best tips for maximizing your meal.

Scope Out the Entire Breakfast Buffet First

hotel breakfast buffet
(Photo: Marriott International)

An ideal meal consists of whole, unprocessed foods from the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein/meat and dairy). Depending on what the free hotel breakfast has to offer, it may or may not be possible to include something from each food group. Before you start piling food onto your plate, walk the entire length of the buffet to see what your options are.

Most hotel breakfast buffets have some fresh fruits — like apples, bananas and oranges — and you’ll usually find eggs (hard-boiled or scrambled), sliced bread for toast, maybe some bacon or sausage, yogurt and milk. Check under the buffet table for a refrigerator with extra options, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask someone.

Take Advantage of an Omelet Station

hotel breakfast buffet
(Photo: Getty Images)

Not all buffets will offer omelets, but this is one of the best ways to ensure your meal is fresh and made exactly as you like it. There won’t be anything added that you don’t want, and you can watch it being made right in front of you.

Get Creative

hotel breakfast buffet
(Photo: Getty Images)

Just because you don’t see something neatly laid out in the buffet doesn’t mean you can’t make it yourself. Craving a sandwich? Toast up a bagel or bread, add eggs and whatever else you’d like. (A peanut butter and banana sandwich can hit the spot, too.) Want a little crunch in your yogurt? Add fruit, granola, nuts or even sprinkle oatmeal or cereal like Raisin Bran or Cheerios on top.

Try Something New

Many hotel breakfast buffets will include regional foods in addition to the basics. This could be fresh local fruit or specialties like grits in the Southern United States or grilled fish in the U.K. This is especially helpful if you are leery of new foods — take a sample and try it for free at your hotel before ordering it at a restaurant when you’re out and about.

Don’t Forget about Drinks

Most free hotel breakfasts include juice, water, tea and coffee, but some buffets offer smoothies or other options. Try to limit your juice to 4 ounces, and if you don’t drink your coffee black, go for skim or 1 percent milk instead of loading up on cream and sugar. Too much sugar can cause your system to crash and burn, which is the last thing you want to happen.