Aug 2, 2012
If you’ve traveled at all in your life, then you’ve likely stayed in even one hotel. And if that hotel is a chain in North America, you’ve more than likely had some sort of “continental breakfast.” I have had plenty of continental breakfasts in my time, and it’s been interesting to think back and note how they’ve evolved over time.
When I was younger I can distinctly remember that most hotels had donuts, sugary cereals, oatmeal packets, milk, juice, coffee, tea, and a bowl of fruit – usually bananas, oranges, or apples (or a combination of the three). Now, it seems that they’ve expanded a bit and things such as hardboiled eggs, yogurt, waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage are included.
Despite the additions, I still feel like the hotel circuit is missing something on the continental breakfast scene. I recognize that higher-end hotels might have more options available that cater to a healthier lifestyle. But the reality is that most North Americans aren’t staying in those hotels because they don’t have the money for it. So how come the rest of us can’t get the same delicious, yet healthy options?
When we were away in Pennsylvania I found myself scanning the breakfast line at each hotel debating over and over what to eat. Most mornings at home Peter and I would have something fairly typical: oatmeal with fruit (and some nut butter swirled in for me!), or Greek yogurt with fruit and granola. Nothing too wild and crazy. However, I would look at the packages of yogurt, and they were filled with sugar. The oatmeal? It had “caramel colour” and other such delightful ingredients included. And the only fruit on hand was usually bananas (that were going brown) or some oranges.
I get that hotels are feeding masses of people with a wide variety of palates, and that’s a hard thing to do. But at the same time, why do we have to settle for lower nutritional standards just because it’s a hotel breakfast? What’s worse is that I know that this breakfast just reflects the stomachs of the vast majority of North America. I know, I know, we’re on vacation, so why not splurge? Fine. I get it. But seriously, after one or two days of “splurging” I feel like I want to vomit, my stomach is bloated, and I’m still constantly hungry no matter how much I eat because there is little to no nutrition actually going into my body.
The best breakfast I ever had that was included in our hotel stay was in Germany. They had homemade granola, meusli, jams, and nutbutters. It was incredible! Their bread was fresh and not filled with crazy preservatives. They had regular oats cooked and put in a large crockpot, instead of those little packets. Their eggs were real, and they weren’t shaped into strange little patties that make me question whether they’re really eggs at all… It was fabulous. And you know what? I didn’t feel hungry before lunchtime. And I felt like my body had actually received nutrition – not something I can say for most North American hotel breakfasts.
I don’t really have a conclusion that will solve all the problems I am mentioning above, but it was more something I wanted to write about; draw attention to. I guess my main thought is: it’s possible to stock a hotel with healthy food that can please people and still make you full in a healthy way. So why doesn’t it happen?
What’s your experience been with continental breakfasts? Like ‘em? Hate ‘em?