This post originally appeared in the December 31, 2019 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
Traveling is often delightful and stressful in equal proportions. The promise of seeing, eating, and drinking new things outweighs the bustle of airports (or trains), difficulty of language barriers, and effects of jet lag. Though eating well might be the best reason to travel the world, I’m going to suggest one easy way to feel grounded every morning while you’re abroad: Get the hotel breakfast buffet.
Practically speaking, good hotel breakfast buffets are often reasonably priced, available every day of the week, and offer a multitude of choices. Starting your day with a selection of eggs, fruits, pastries, juices, teas, and coffees in unlimited portions provides the perfect fuel for a long day of sightseeing, and hotel breakfast buffets give you something to look forward to every morning that you wouldn’t usually experience, making you feel like you’re truly on vacation. But perhaps most importantly, the hotel breakfast provides a welcome sense of routine in a place where you’re far from home.
When I was on my honeymoon with my wife, Rochelle, in Phuket, Thailand, I was lucky enough to find a modestly priced resort that included a daily breakfast buffet. On paper, it seemed like a waste of a meal to eat eggs, bacon, fruits, and coffee in Thailand for the full week of our stay. But we loved it: Every morning, there was a selection of paper-thin bacon strips, little grilled sausages, perfectly fried eggs, and made-to-order omelettes. Every morning, the hotel also offered some Thai-style breakfast items, like rice porridge and stir-fried noodles. And every morning — the most hilarious part — featured the exact same soundtrack: the melancholy tunes of Kings of Convenience.
The first morning, I was delighted to hear the Norwegian band’s harmonic lyrics and gentle guitar strumming. The second, I was slightly annoyed to encounter the same music, even asking the staff if they could play something different. They said no. The third and subsequent mornings, my wife and I just laughed at the hilarious soundtrack as we took down plate after plate of the same breakfast as the day before.
Though vacation is supposed to be the opposite of work, traveling — especially through many locations — is often hectic and stressful. Figuring out the day’s activities can mean difficult decisions when there are so many options. But the hotel breakfast buffet is predictable, relaxing, and delightful. Most of the time, my wife and I just smiled at each other in silence, reveling in the quiet routine of the breakfast buffet as a welcome start to each day before we set off on boat trips to lush islands, motorbike drives through thick forest roads, and long afternoons on isolated beaches.
Recently Rochelle and I traveled through Europe, and some of our favorite memories were waking up to get the hotel breakfast buffet. Sure, there were croissants, pintxos, pasteis de nata, and fish and chips throughout our two-week, four-country excursion. But getting up to the comfortable, delicious luxury of a hotel breakfast buffet made the whole thing feel like an actual vacation.
P.S. American airport breakfasts, however, are a completely different story: Here’s how chefs navigate the morning meal when stuck inside a terminal.