Food & Nutrition

The Real Reason Why Hotel Breakfasts Are Called “Continental”

It’s the best part about staying in a hotel, after all.

Selection of freshly made breads served for breakfastBlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock

The best part about staying in a hotel isn’t the crisp, white sheets or comfy beds—it’s the free breakfast. There’s no better place to start your day than an all-you-can-eat buffet, after all. But at first glance, there’s nothing very “continental” about a continental breakfast. What’s the deal?

No, American-style waffles and bagels don’t have anything to do with it. These nationwide breakfasts were actually modeled after the light morning meals common throughout the European continent. Hence, the word “continental.” (By the way, this is the only thing you should eat at your hotel’s breakfast.)

As hoteliers popped up across the country, they began to offer a lighter alternative to American breakfasts, serving fare like coffee, bread, pastries, and fruit. It was a win-win situation all around: Not only did the buffet please the palates of European tourists, but it was also cheap and easy to provide for the hotels.

This wasn’t the kind of hearty meal that Americans were used to, though. In fact, when hotels first began serving light breakfasts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, American diners were outraged. Where were the greasy, juicy sausages? The heaping portions of eggs? Harper’s Weekly even demanded the idea be banished from the “hemisphere where the Monroe Doctrine and the pie should reign supreme.”

Luckily, people aren’t as passionate about their hotel buffets anymore—or they just go to IHOP. Breakfast is not the only free perk you can get from your hotel, though. Find out more secrets your hotel doesn’t want you to know.

[Source: Mental Floss, The Kitchn]

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