a gentlemans guide to hotel breakfast etiquette 830x430

A Gentleman’s Guide to Hotel Breakfast Etiquette

Everyone loves a nice hotel breakfast buffet. Maybe it’s the variety that you can’t replicate at home, the opportunity to try local delicacies or even the simple pleasure of taking time to enjoy the first meal of the day without worrying that you’ll miss your train. Then again, maybe it brings up fond childhood memories, when you didn’t have to make your own breakfast and someone else anticipated your needs.

Yet, this utterly delightful experience is tainted by the display of bad manners. I am telling you, nothing brings out the savage in all of us like exposure to free croissants. So here are some tips to make sure your gentlemanly composure remains intact while your waistline expands:

9 tips for the perfect hotel breakfast manners

1. Room service anyone?
Finer establishments offer the option of room service, for a supplement. If you are a celebrity travelling incognito or the type of person who hates mornings, you can either order your breakfast on the spot or fill in a form the night before, specifying what you want and the time it should arrive. Either way, make sure you’re presentable when the waiter knocks on your door.

2. Heading to the buffet
If you decide to make your way to the hotel restaurant, avoid turning up 10’ before closing time and overstaying your welcome because you will be surprised to find that the staff has other things to attend to. Although black tie may be too formal for the occasion, make an effort to get out of your pyjamas. Both the staff and other guests will appreciate it.

3. Seating arrangements
Choose a table or take the one indicated by the maître and stick to it. If you want to pay a second (or third) visit to the buffet, leave your napkin on your chair to indicate that you will be returning. Throughout your time there, keep your voice down. After all, it is still morning and most people need some time to adjust to the outside world.

4. Choose wisely
Explore the buffet before queuing for food. This way, you will have an idea of what’s available and you’ll not hold up the line taking hours to decide.

5. No germs on my food please
The definition of a buffet is that food is shared with other people. Use the serving tongs, avoid coughing, sneezing or laughing over the food and, most importantly, put utensils back where you found them. What is just good manners for you, can be a matter of life and death for people with severe allergies.

6. Ask for help
If the dish you are after has run out, politely inform a member of staff as they may be able to refill the trays immediately. Also, if you are unsure how to use equipment, such as coffee machines or toasters, it’s advisable to ask rather than break them which will ruin everyone’s breakfast.

7. The sin of gluttony
It’s very easy to get carried away in the face of such abundance but stuffing your face is quite unbecoming. Some indulgence is welcome, when travelling, but do show reasonable restraint and stick to healthier options as much as possible.

8. Taster menu
The most common excuse guests give for piling buffet food on their plates is that they want to try a bit of everything. However, throwing good food when we are all aware of global inequalities and the impact overconsumption has on the planet is a sign of poor manners. Take only what you will eat. It’s better to make multiple visits to the buffet than to leave food on your plate and, if you have company, split portions so you can try more dishes.

9. Orderly fashion
If you do plan to have a full and filling breakfast, start with juice and cold dishes, followed by warm dishes, and then wrap up your meal with tea or coffee. In case you are wondering whether it’s ok to stock items from the buffet to eat later in the day, the answer is a resounding no. Feel free to grab a muffin or pain au chocolat, if you need to rush out, but don’t try to save money on lunch by packing food away.

If you want to know more about travelling in style, read our blog on hassle-free travel with a suit and watch our video on how to pack your 3 piece suit. Sign up to our newsletter for a weekly dose of style and etiquette, delivered directly to your inbox.