I confess I’ve grown spoiled in my expectations of free breakfasts. If I’m staying at a hotel rather than an alternative like Airbnb, I only book properties where I can enjoy free breakfast.
Yes, it saves me a little money and helps keep my travel habit affordable. But it also makes traveling easier, scratching one less worry off each day’s itinerary. You just stumble to the elevator, and the next thing you know you have a cup of coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other.
Of course, not all hotel breakfasts are created equal. While some hotel chains offer free breakfasts to everyone, others only provide it to guests with elite reward member status.
Whether you’re looking to save money, time, effort, or all of the above on your next vacation, you can count on free breakfasts from the following hotel chains.
Different Types of Hotel Breakfasts
Hotel breakfasts come in three varieties: continental, buffet, and a la carte. This gets slightly confusing because continental breakfasts are served as buffets.
At the low end of the hotel breakfast spectrum lie continental breakfasts. Although set up as a buffet, continental breakfasts lack any precooked food or heat platters.
Common options include cereal, oatmeal, yogurts, pastries, bread, and sometimes deli meats and cheeses. If you’re lucky, they might include a self-operated waffle iron along with premixed batter. They also usually include beverages like coffee, tea, and juices.
A continental breakfast isn’t so much a balanced meal as a breakfast-shaped snack, sufficient to hold you over until you find a good bagel shop or an early lunch.
What distinguishes a continental breakfast set up as a buffet from a true buffet breakfast?
At a minimum, buffet breakfasts should include a heat platter with scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage. But they could include many more hot food options as well, in addition to cold fare like cereal and fruit.
A La Carte Breakfast
The best breakfast buffets also include made-to-order stations, where staff members cook omelets or other dishes to your custom specifications.
In some cases, you can also order off an a la carte menu. Or there may be no buffet at all, and you order the entire breakfast from a menu, all included with your stay at the hotel.
Hotel Chains That Offer Free Breakfasts to All Guests
Now that we’re clear on terminology, which hotel chains include free breakfasts for everyone?
Surprisingly, free breakfasts dominate the lower- and mid-ranges of the hotel market, not its upper echelons. At least, free breakfasts for all guests, not just elite-level members.
1. Hilton Brands
Many of Hilton’s 15 hotel brands offer free breakfast of one sort or another. Keep an eye out for the following Hilton hotel brands to eat cheap on your next vacation.
- Hampton by Hilton. The Hampton by Hilton chain offers continental breakfasts, but most do include a waffle iron and oatmeal with hot water for at least a couple of hot breakfast options. One nice twist Hampton offers on the continental breakfast is free on-the-go breakfast bags you can snag on your way out the door.
- Home2 Suites by Hilton. A step up the breakfast food chain, Home2 Suites offers a couple more hot breakfast options. They rotate hot “artisan-style” breakfast sandwiches and bowls daily, in addition to the standard continental fare and a waffle iron. Other highlights include hard-boiled eggs, grits sometimes rotated with the oatmeal, and an “Inspired Table™” in the breakfast area with power outlets to charge your devices.
- Tru by Hilton. Hilton’s Tru brand offers a limited hot buffet breakfast with scrambled eggs, chicken sausages, and of course waffles, plus the standard-issue yogurts, cereals, and so on. Tru touts an impressive 35+ toppings available for your breakfast creation.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton. Homewood Suites features basic hot breakfast foods like scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, and breakfast potatoes. It also includes pastries, cereals, oatmeal, fruit, and other continental breakfast staples.
- Canopy by Hilton. Although they don’t claim all properties provide it, this smaller Hilton brand offers a complimentary artisanal breakfast with fresh ingredients and local produce in many of its locations. Double-check with the hotel though before assuming they provide it for free.
- Embassy Suites by Hilton. With a full hot buffet breakfast including eggs, bacon, and oatmeal, the Embassy Suites also features a made-to-order omelet station. After chowing down on a la carte omelets, be sure to squeeze some fresh fruit in your breakfast from the cold foods section as well.
2. Best Western Hotels
Best Western claims more than 4,500 franchised hotels around the world, with roughly 2,000 of them in North America. Almost all include free breakfast, as the brand strongly encourages but doesn’t require franchisees to offer it.
The quality and quantity of options of those breakfasts vary by location. Some go all out with full hot breakfast buffets with eggs, sausages, bacon, potatoes, and even breakfast sandwiches and a la carte omelet stations. Others limp by with yogurts and other continental breakfast options.
Most offer at least a waffle iron, pancake griddle, or French toast to add another hot option beyond oatmeal. Plus most include a healthy assortment of fruits.
3. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
Several of IHG’s chains advertise free breakfasts, although they vary both by chain and property. Again, do your homework before counting on a gourmet spread.
- Holiday Inn Express. Given a makeover in 2018, the free breakfast at Holiday Inn Express hotels now includes items like egg white omelets, bacon and sausages, cinnamon rolls, and a one-touch pancake machine. They also spruced up the continental side of their breakfast foods, with Chobani yogurts and whole wheat English muffins. If you oversleep, they also provide prepacked to-go breakfast bags as well.
- Staybridge Suites. This IHG brand promises a hot buffet breakfast, which includes scrambled eggs, bacon, and waffles. Don’t expect any bells and whistles, but you can find the full continental breakfast along with a basic hot breakfast buffet.
- Avid Hotels. The breakfast at Avid Hotels looks more continental, mostly consisting of oatmeal, fruit, cereal, slices of breads, and yogurts. They do also provide hard-boiled eggs and some on-the-go options such as breakfast bars you can grab on your way out.
4. Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
Most Radisson hotels do not provide free breakfasts, at least not without elite member status. But Country Inn & Suites proves an exception.
Hotels in this chain provide two rotating hot breakfast entrees every day, and I confess they sound pretty tempting. Customizable breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, an omelet station, eggs Benedict, French toast, and bacon with eggs and toast are all featured in the rotation.
Beyond the hot entrees, you can expect the usual waffles, oatmeal, fruits, and cereals. One standout option is the parfait station, allowing guests to build their own perfect yogurt parfait.
5. Marriott Brands
With 30 hotel brands, most of Marriott’s hotels don’t offer complimentary breakfast. But a handful do, at least outside the Asia Pacific region, where the conglomerate does not require properties to offer breakfast.
- Residence Inn by Marriott. The extent of these breakfasts vary by location, but the brand promises a “full American breakfast.” Expect a basic continental breakfast with a couple of hot options.
- Springhill Suites by Marriott. Although mostly continental fare such as yogurt and fruit, some locations offer hot eggs, spinach, and other minimal hot buffet items.
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott. Similarly, most TownePlace Suites properties offer a basic hot buffet breakfast that includes eggs, sausages, and waffles in addition to the cold continental options.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. This brand offers a few hot options such as eggs and breakfast meats, along with a waffle iron, fruit, toast, and the usual corporate breakfast items.
- Element by Marriott. Although Element offers the standard Marriott limited hot buffet breakfast, what sets it apart is actually its afternoon offering: a complimentary adult beverage in many locations.
6. Wyndham Brands
Many Wyndham chains provide at least a continental breakfast, and a few offer basic hot items as well.
- La Quinta Inn & Suites. I once lived at a La Quinta for three weeks when my travel nurse girlfriend’s employer failed to produce corporate housing for us on time. For the first few days, I enjoyed the continental breakfast of cereal, yogurt, fruit, and waffles. After three weeks of it, though, I didn’t eat waffles again for several years.
- Wingate by Wyndham. Wingate hotels offer a basic hot buffet breakfast with eggs, bacon, waffles, as well as continental breakfast options.
- Hawthorn Suites. Similarly, Hawthorn Suites provides simple hot options such as eggs, breakfast meat, bagels, and oatmeal.
- Travelodge. Most Travelodge locations offer a free continental breakfast with minimal frills, but you should at least get some fruit, toast, yogurt, and other basics.
- Howard Johnson. HoJo offers a free “Rise & Dine” continental breakfast in most locations. Expect the usual cold options.
- Baymont Inn & Suites. While Baymont advertises a “hot breakfast,” the only hot items at most locations are waffles and coffee. Expect a standard continental breakfast.
- Days Inn. Wyndham knows its marketing, and in this case pushes the “healthy breakfast” angle. Again, it’s a standard continental breakfast.
- Super 8. This chain also provides continental standards, including waffles, fruit, and cereal.
- Microtel Inn & Suites. This brand provides a continental breakfast, which usually includes bagels and a toaster in addition to the classics.
7. Choice Hotels Brands
Most Choice Hotels chains offer free breakfast in one form or another.
- Sleep Inn. This basic hotel chain includes a free hot breakfast buffet for all guests, including eggs and breakfast meats. They rotate the exact options, but sometimes include biscuits and gravy or sausage patties, and pancakes in addition to waffles.
- Quality Inn. This chain offers a similar hot buffet breakfast to that of the Sleep Inn brand.
- Comfort Inn. Another standard of Choice Hotels’ lineup, Comfort Inns also provide free hot buffet breakfasts. The waffles sometimes have multiple flavor options for some variety across multiple mornings.
- Clarion Pointe. In 2018, Choice Hotels separated its Clarion brand into several sub-brands, and most standard Clarion hotels stopped offering free breakfasts. The slightly higher grade Clarion Pointe branded properties do still offer a free basic hot buffet breakfast with eggs and breakfast meats in most cases.
- MainStay Suites. The MainStay Suites brand offers free continental breakfast, although many properties include an oatmeal station so guests can customize their hot oatmeal with a range of toppings.
- Econo Lodge. This basic hotel chain provides a standard free continental breakfast.
8. Drury Hotels
Most Drury Hotels provide all guests with a complimentary hot buffet breakfast. It includes eggs, sausage, breakfast potatoes, the ever-present waffle iron, fresh fruit, oatmeal, and all the cold continental options.
The family-owned hotel chain touts that “the extras aren’t extra” as its slogan, and its free breakfast doesn’t disappoint.
Hotel Chains That Offer Free Breakfast With Elite Status
Some hotels charge standard guests for breakfast but offer it as a free incentive for guests with some sort of elite status with the brand. Each hotel chain has its own travel loyalty program and tiers, with different pricing and perks. Some are even free. Research each individually before committing, as some offer far greater value than others.
9. Marriott Properties
Many of the higher-end Marriott brands charge for breakfast — unless you have elite status with them.
Marriott features six status tiers currently: Member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, and Ambassador Elite. Customers in the highest three tiers enjoy free breakfasts at many Marriott properties around the world.
Those properties include:
- Marriott Resorts (not hotels)
- Sheraton Hotels
- Westin Hotels
- Marriott Courtyard (if the property has a lounge)
- Four Points Hotels
- Protea Hotels
Breakfasts range from a full hot buffet up to completely customized a la carte breakfasts.
Joining the Marriott membership program comes with a suite of other benefits too, and makes for an alternative way to earn travel rewards without a credit card. Just remember that it doesn’t make sense to spend more than you would have otherwise to save a little money on breakfast. Spending an extra $50 to earn $25 in benefits is a losing proposition.
10. Hyatt Properties
The Hyatt corporation offers a four-tiered membership program called World of Hyatt. Tiers include World of Hyatt Members, Discoverists, Explorists, and Globalists at the top.
Different membership types earn you free breakfast at different Hyatt hotel brands. For example, Hyatt Place hotels provide free breakfast for members at all four tiers. Many other Hyatt brands only provide free breakfast for members at the Globalist level.
As you explore the following Hyatt brand hotels, verify specifically whether they offer a free breakfast for World of Hyatt members, and at which minimum tier:
- Park Hyatt
- Grand Hyatt
- Hyatt Regency
- Hyatt Zilara/Ziva
- Hyatt Place
- Hyatt House
- Hyatt Centric
- The Unbound Collection
- Joie de Vivre
- Hyatt Small Luxury Hotels and Resorts
At all properties, diners can expect at a minimum a full hot breakfast buffet, often with a la carte options such as an omelet station, and in some cases a full a la carte breakfast menu.
As a final thought on Hyatt hotels, some offer complimentary breakfast if you book directly through Hyatt’s website rather than a third-party website like Expedia or Travelocity. Check Hyatt’s own website first when making reservations for a Hyatt hotel.
11. Hilton Hotels
Similarly, the Hilton Honors loyalty program includes four tiers and features free breakfasts for some members. The levels include Member, Silver, Gold, and Diamond.
Gold and Diamond members receive free breakfast at any Hilton hotel in the world. The brand’s hotel list includes:
- Embassy Suites
- Hampton Inn
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Home2 Suites
- Homewood Suites
- Tapestry Collection
- Waldorf Astoria
The hotel breakfasts across this group vary considerably. Some hotel brands offer only a continental breakfast. Others offer a hot buffet breakfast, and still others offer full a la carte breakfasts.
Do your homework on individual hotels and their breakfast offerings before booking.
12. Radisson Hotels
The Radisson Rewards program also features four tiers: Club, Silver, Gold, Platinum. Only Platinum members get free breakfasts, and only at participating properties.
Guests need to read the fine print carefully, too. The member must be the registered guest — as opposed to, say, their spouse — and only the member receives free breakfast.
As free breakfast benefits go, the Radisson Rewards program wins the award for most stingy.
Credit Card Hotel Networks Offering Free Breakfasts
One other way to score free hotel breakfasts includes elite credit cards, which include a range of travel benefits through a network of hotels. It makes for another opportunity for travel perks, even without specifically owning a travel rewards credit card.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Network
Platinum American Express cardholders get a wide range of perks within the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts network. It includes more than 1,000 hotels around the world.
Cardholders see benefits similar to those earned by elite hotel memberships. Some of those benefits include:
- Daily free breakfast for two guests
- Early check-in when available (usually noon)
- Guaranteed 4pm late checkout
- Room upgrades
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Other amenities unique to individual properties
Many of the hotels in the network are high-end luxury hotels, offering either upscale hot buffets or a la carte breakfasts. In other words, expect breakfasts to impress.
Chase Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection
Chase’s network operates extremely similarly, where more exclusive cardholders get access to hotel perks at an equally large network. Chase advertises access to their Luxury Hotels & Resorts Collection as a perk with the following cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve card
- J.P. Morgan Reserve card
- United Club Card
- United Explorer Card
- United Explorer Business Card
However, I’ve informally heard that some other Chase cardholders also get access to the network. The following cardholders can try accessing the network as well:
- Chase Freedom card
- Chase Freedom Unlimited card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection
Holders of Visa Signature cards get access to a similar network of upscale hotels with over 900 properties worldwide through the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.
Hotels in the network offer similar perks, including free breakfast, early check-in, late checkout, and so on. But one unique benefit to Visa’s network is that it guarantees the lowest available rate. Cardholders never pay more than the rate advertised elsewhere online, unlike some hotels in the other two credit card networks, which may charge more for customers availing themselves of the benefits.
There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but a free breakfast? Well, sometimes.
Keep in mind that many hotel chains are owned by franchisees, and not all properties participate in the overall company structure for free breakfasts. Even among corporate-owned hotels, some properties don’t offer the standard free breakfast either. Be sure to check each individual hotel before booking to ensure it offers free breakfast for guests.