If there’s one thing I prefer as a traveler, it’s that my accommodation comes with a complimentary breakfast. If there’s no free breakfast, I’m out! Even if it’s just a piece of toast and a small fried egg—any breakfast is better than no breakfast. I prefer lazy mornings. Whether I’m staying in a luxury hotel or a quirky hostel, I want to crawl out of my bed, take only a few steps, and have breakfast at the property before starting my day.
The thing about hotel breakfasts is that they follow a strict schedule that’s usually from 7-10am. You can’t have it a minute earlier or later than that.
But what if the hotel breakfast does not jive with your travel schedule?
1. Your morning activity or tour is earlier than 7am.
2. You partied and drank too much alcohol the night before and you know you’re getting up much later than 10am.
3. Your flight is super early, so you have to check out before the 7am breakfast.
Dear hotels, please move the cut-off time of the complimentary breakfast to 11:59am. 🙃
What now? My dear readers, let me present to you something I filed under “I was today years old.” After all these years of traveling, I found out only last month that:
Many hotels offer free takeaway meals for those who are too early for free breakfast.
Read that again.
If your tour, activity, or flight is in the wee hours of the morning, you can inform the concierge and they will give you a takeaway bag with a meal in lieu of the free breakfast buffet ticket. In some accommodations, you get a set meal like a simple sandwich with bottled water. Some offer a menu with a few options, like a rice bowl, a bread basket, or a gourmet sandwich with coffee or juice in a takeaway cup.
Just tell them what time you need it the next morning, and they will have it ready for pickup at the concierge or deliver it to your room.
If you’re like me and you’re wondering: “Why didn’t I know about this?!” I hear you. Apparently, this has been an option for many accommodations (not just hotels) for a long time now. It just isn’t blatantly advertised. I found out only when I read the fine print of this one hostel I was checking out last month. From thereon, I would ask each hotel I booked, and yes, they all offer breakfast provisions in a paper bag for those leaving too early.
Allow me to grieve over all those years of missed hotel breakfasts.
Travel hack for notorious snoozers: Tell the concierge you have an early morning tour and would like the free takeaway (white lie) and have it delivered to your room early. Hit the snooze button when you receive the food, put it on the table, and go back to sleep. Eat it later when you finally wake up from your much-deserved slumber.
If the hotel does not offer this alternative (boo!), you have other options to soothe your early-morning tummy:
1. Purchase something from the grocery or convenience store the night before.
2. Order room service.
3. Check out the neighboring restaurants and cafés.
4. Always pack sealed snacks that don’t easily perish, like a granola bar and a small pack of chips or dried fruit. It doesn’t hurt to have an emergency stash when traveling. I remember being hungry at 3am in my hotel when everything was either closed or too far to walk, so thank goodness I found a chocolate bar in my luggage.
5. Wait until you get to the airport or terminal. International airports have a good selection of restaurants and cafés, but not all domestic airports or stations are created equal. I remember entering one Philippine domestic airport that had no restaurants—just one food kiosk with really bad instant food. I chose famine. Tip: Google the airport or station beforehand to see if they have decent food.