Is this the end of the hotel buffet breakfast? It's not just the toast I'll miss | Hadley Freeman
Everyone knows you never go à la carte for breakfast in a hotel. I can measure out my life in pancakes, paratha and pain au chocolat
But when I heard that hotel breakfast buffets “might be a thing of the past”, a red line was crossed. Squeezing that extra drop of lemon juice into my wound (instead of on to the crepe at the crepe station, where it belongs), one hotelier told a reporter, “We’ve gone entirely à la carte.”
“A la carte”?! Everyone knows you never go à la carte for breakfast in a hotel! Why pay £12.95 for one plate of pancakes (which you have to wait for the waiter to bring!) when £20 will get you pancakes, toast, croissants, cheese slices, fruit salad, waffles, cereal and fruit juice in one of those inexplicably tiny glasses, which you can get yourself and eat straight away? Please don’t take away my human right!
As proof of the urgency of this issue, here is my life story, told through the hotel buffet breakfasts I have known:1983, Deauville My parents take me from New York to Europe for the first time to meet the French side of our family. On our first morning, my great-aunt Sonia takes me and my little sister to the hotel buffet. “This is a baguette,” she says, giving my sister the craziest bread we white-sliced American kids have ever encountered. “And this is a pain au chocolat,” she says, giving me something that turns out to be heaven in my mouth. “I like Europe!” I think. And 37 years later, I’m still here, still eating your tasty European carbs.
2000, Udaipur After graduating from university, my best friend and I display the thrusting ambition for which we would henceforth be known by binning the job search and swanning off to India for a month. According to my travel diary, we saw temples in Mumbai, the millennium new year in Goa, the Taj Mahal in Agra. But what I actually remember is the buffet breakfast at a hotel in Udaipur that we checked into as a treat for the last two nights. Tables of parathas! Trays of dosas! And, because it was a luxury hotel, croissants and omelettes! Life after university, we decided by the waffle station, was going to be OK.
2003, Milan I am covering the fashion shows for the Guardian and on my first morning in Milan come downstairs for the breakfast buffet. As it’s Italy, which doesn’t understand the concept of breakfast, this consists of plastic-wrapped wafers, palm-sized pieces of toast and mini boxes of Frosties. I see a table of fashion journalists, all with 25 pieces of mini toast piled on their plates. They make space for me. I have found my people.
2008, Las Vegas I go to Vegas with a boyfriend and I remember nothing about the casinos. But I do remember the breakfast buffet at the Bellagio hotel, the DisneyWorld of breakfast buffets. Seriously, I saw one man with pancakes and lasagne on his plate. There is no other story to this memory.
2015, St Lucia My boyfriend and I are on our first big holiday and I’ve been feeling queasy. He suggests I rest in the room. He does not yet understand the situation with me and hotel breakfast buffets, and so I teach him, by eating his weight in pastries, papaya, pineapple, bread and muesli. That afternoon, we find out I’m pregnant – with twins, it later transpires, which means double the morning sickness. In no way does that break my stride when it comes to the buffet.
There is a current strain of thought that if you complain about sacrifices required during the lockdown, you are saying you do not support it. But to wish your children could go back to school is not disregarding the importance of teachers’ health; to long for the shops to reopen is not wishing illness on older people because you want to buy a new skirt. We can acknowledge the pain while also accepting the reality. So I understand why the breakfast buffet may be no more, but I still mourn its demise.
Hotel breakfast buffets are important, because they are an essential part of the illusion that anything is permitted if you do it in a hotel – from staying up until 3am watching movies to eating seven helpings of waffle six hours later. The buffet is where you meet your fellow guests, so that for the rest of the holiday you think of them as Mr Salmon and Mrs Yoghurt; where you learn that some people are fine with mixing cold and hot food on one plate; and that if the omelette station runs dry riots will break out. It’s where you see all of humanity, and many pancakes. And if that’s not the stuff of life, I don’t know what is.Read more: The Guardian »
LOOKS LIKE IT AND VEGAS GAMBLING wonderful article Hadley causing a happy reminisce of all the wonderful breakfast buffets we have had...... hard to choose the best so had to to do a top 5 I’ll be glad to see it. It’s a cost-cutter for the hotel rather than an asset for guests. Who wants to queue and re-queue for half-cooked toast and re-heated bacon?
wanna make four digits real quick❓👀💰💯🇺🇸🇨🇦...dm”HOW”.no upfront fee needed Buffet - This is really the one thing I will not miss. Never liked it, plus it's always been a source of infection Really enjoyed this article. Most of my memories are food related, including many hotel breakfast buffets. And I'm happy to report that Italians have caught up to the rest of the world where hotel breakfast buffets are concerned. 🙂
I will miss the hotel buffet breakfast! Oh the ful medames in Dubai! Or the various other local specialties found in buffet breakfasts around Asia! Let’s not forget the crazy conveyor belt toaster which only exists as people cannot be trusted not to put knives into a normal toaster If you work in the hospitality industry or married to somebody who is, you will know that buffets consist mainly of recycled food items unsold from other food outlets. Those items which cannot be recycled are dumped. Those in the trade avoid buffets like the plague.
HadleyFreeman speaks to my mind and my stomach. The hotel buffet breakfast will be missed. Glad I was able to share the experience with my children before it was too late obligatory link to the Key and Peele continental breakfast sketch.
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