By: Hipmunk Staff
There is something about free food that makes it taste better. Whether it’s a gratis sample at the supermarket or a snack from the office’s pantry, not having to pay for an edible morsel has a special attraction, even if it isn’t particularly delectable (see airplane food).
In the vast tundra of free foods, nobody does it better than hotels. People truly love continental breakfast — so much so, that according to one hotel management survey, it edges out free wi-fi as the number one most desired hotel amenity by travelers. Of course, a hotel’s promise of “free breakfast” is widely variable: what you get can range from a muffin wrapped in cellophane and burnt coffee, to a lavish buffet complete with an omelette bar.
At Hipmunk, we were curious to determine what percent of hotels actually offer free breakfast to travelers. To seek out a quantifiable answer, we decided to analyze our hotel amenities data. As it turns out, globally, just 14% of hotels offer a free breakfast. But in the United States, 43% of hotels offer a free breakfast.
In fact, the United States is the number one country in the world when it comes to offering free breakfast to travelers. Let’s take a look at how this benefit breaks down.
Does “Free Breakfast” Even Exist at Hotels?
We should, of course, point out there is no such thing as a purely “free breakfast” at a hotel. At the end of the day, you are still paying for the room, and presumably the price of that breakfast is included in that price.
But surely, the more you pay for a hotel room, the more likely you are to be offered a “free breakfast” at a hotel, right? Actually, in the United States, the opposite is true. Less expensive hotels are much more likely to offer free breakfast to travelers. At most 5-star hotels, free breakfast is apparently an alien concept.
More than half of all two-star hotels offer some sort of free breakfast to travelers, compared to just 5% of 5-star hotels. Of course, at nearly any 5-star hotel, you can still typically buy a very nice breakfast.
While free breakfast is less less common in the rest of the world than in the United States, free breakfast at really nice international hotels is actually more common, percentage-wise. Outside of the US, whether you are staying at a 2-star or or a 5-star hotel, your chance of encountering the amenity is about the same (roughly 20%):
However, looking at the global data on a country-by-country basis, the United States has, by far, the highest percentage of hotels that offer free breakfast:
|Hipmunk Global Free Breakfast at Hotels Index|
|Countries with the highest % hotels that provide free breakfast|
|Rank||Country||% Free Breakfast|
Americans love breakfast at hotels, and many 2 to 3 star American hotels are happy to give it to them for free. However, as we previously mentioned, only 5% of luxury hotels in America offer free breakfast. This seems to solely be an American phenomenon, though: across the globe, lots of very nice hotels also include a free breakfast in the room rate:
|Countries Where Luxury Hotels Offer Free Breakfast|
|Countries with the highest % 5-star hotels that provide free breakfast|
|Rank||Country||% Free Breakfast|
In Tanzania, 50% of all 5-star hotels include offers of free breakfast! In Italy, 45% of the most luxurious hotels also offer free breakfast. In many popular destinations across the world, if you spring for a luxury accommodation, there is good chance that breakfast will be included gratis (or rather, included in the price of a very expensive hotel room).
After examining all of our data on free breakfast at hotels, it’s clear that America is unique. If you stay at any given hotel in the United States, there is a 43% chance you’ll receive the glorious gift that is free breakfast. This is much higher than anywhere else in the world — largely because it seems to be a norm in America for less expensive hotels to offer some sort of complimentary morning treat. Unfortunately, this norm does not appear to exist in the rest of the world.
The downside to this American dream is that luxury doesn’t seem to pay off in the form of breakfast. But hey, if you’re staying at a 5-star hotel, what’s a few more bucks for some perfectly poached eggs?
Find a hotel that offers free breakfast for your next trip using Hipmunk hotel search.
On behalf of Hipmunk, Priceonomics analyzed the percentage of hotels offering free breakfast in Hipmunk’s hotel database.