Sites, like booking.com, usually have an option to pay for breakfast in advance. What is the general recommendation? Is paying in advance cheaper than just showing up and paying in person if you like the breakfast?

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    You can call hotel and ask. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 9:03
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    It might depend on how long you’re staying, and how flexible your plans for the day are. When I’m on a business trip getting an early breakfast in the hotel is sometimes the best option for me. OTOH, on a leisure trip I prefer not to be limited by having pre-booked and paid for a breakfast that I might ultimately not want to show up for
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 9:36
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    Its not just a question of money but also convenience. Oftentimes you may find its more expensive to pay on the day, sometimes not. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 10:19
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    In the last 5 hotels offering breakfast I booked the price of breakfast was the same no matter how I ordered it.
    – pts
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 22:34
  • I tend to exclude food in my hotel bookings, because it's more flexible that way: on the first day of my trip I can look around inside and outside the hotel, and then each day I can choose the best food option. Sometimes I wake up too late, and hotel breakfast is already over. Sometimes I skip breakfast, and I go for big lunch instead. Sometimes I'm in a hurry, and I just buy a sandwich on the go. Sometimes the hotel breakfast is boring or low quality, and I can discover this by taking a look on-site, without paying.
    – pts
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 22:37

5 Answers 5


Assuming that you actually want to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant:

Collecting hard price data is difficult:

  • When booking in advance selecting the "best room-only rate" and adding the optional breakfast separately often already seems to result in a different rate than the one offered for the same "room inc. free breakfast" ...

  • None of the hotels I recently stayed in published online what they'll be charging you when you opt-in for breakfast at check-in, nor what they charge for simply walking in the restaurant. You'd need to contact them directly for that.

That makes it hard to say if there is any difference in rate for :

  1. pre-booked room+breakfast rate
  2. pre-booked room-only rate and switching to a room+breakfast rate onsite at check-in
  3. or paying separately (at check-out) for your breakfast(s) from the buffet

Anecdotal data suggests that it can go either way :

  • At some hotels the price for a breakfast is always the same. (in the local currency - currency conversions on sites like Booking are sometimes slightly deceptive)
    Then there is no price difference when you book a room rate without breakfast, compared to upgrading to a room+breakfast rate (in advance or at check-in) or paying (at check-out) for the breakfast in the hotel restaurant in the morning, breakfast simply costs the same.

  • At some hotels (usually the ones that also allow non-guests to join the breakfast buffet) as a hotel guest on a room-only rate I was charged the price from the menu, which seemed (much) higher than a pre-booked combo deal would have been.

  • At some hotels rather than/instead of a buffet, the breakfast can be ordered from a menu. Then paying separately for a small appetite (i.e. only a simple coffee and croissant) is beneficial and when your appetite is larger; then a rate including breakfast might prove to be cheaper.

Reasons why I book a rate including breakfast:

  • I think I'll actually want to have breakfast in the hotel (buffet) restaurant

  • The price for including the breakfast isn't crossing my subjective "too expensive" (for the location) mark.

  • There appear no nearby alternative locations to get breakfast

  • I'm on a business trip and when the hotel rate includes breakfast my per diem isn't reduced, meaning that breakfast is "free" for me and I can afford to spend some more on lunch, dinner and/or drinks.

  • Some loyalty programs don't only count the number of nights, but also the price per night. Paying separately for breakfast at the hotel earns fewer loyalty points.

Reasons why I book a rate without breakfast:

  • I know beforehand I won't actually be having breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

    • Planned meetings/excursions in the early morning.
    • Time differences and jet-lag - and I'll most likely instead order from the room-service menu.
  • The price for including the breakfast does cross my subjective "too expensive" mark.

    • Which is reached quicker when the hotel offers a kettle/coffee maker and other amenities in the room.
    • And there are suitable nearby alternatives to the hotel restaurant.
  • I wanted to explore those alternatives anyway.

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    Good answer. I'd add that in some hotels, there is no option to order breakfast at all if you didn't book a room with breakfast option, as they only prepare enough for guests they know in advance. It is especially true in small hotels. Last time I've seen this was in a hotel with only like 8 rooms in the building.
    – Mołot
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 14:02

When I checked the prices of hotels recently the 'include breakfast' option was cheaper than buying the breakfast in the same hotel on the day. In some cases it will be the same, it can even be more expensive if the hotel wants to risk that.

But knowing the area and how much I eat at breakfast, I bet I can get more food for less money in the supermarket near that hotel.

It will be like that in many locations but not in all. Having a hotel breakfast will be easy and less fuss, but mostly more money than other options.

On the other hand, if you are lucky, the breakfast option is a very good deal compared to going out to breakfast in a hotel or restaurant in the area you stay and cheaper options may not be available.

It is a risk you need to weigh. Mine is mostly to include breakfast but I do look at its price and the cost of other food options in the area, compared to what I would spend on breakfast at home. If it is a few cents extra, and double the local cost I might well go for it, even if it is double the cost. On the other hand, the time the hotel did charge €17 each for breakfast we went out and had a good breakfast each for €5.

  • Re supermarket breakfasts: you can do very well. If I'm on my own budget I take the means to make decent coffee in my room (there's normally a kettle at least) and buy breakfast pastries in the supermarket the previous evening. But then I'm normally cycling (UK or France) and might want a 2nd breakfast mid morning, which is likely to be in a cafe. I've also had a far more pleasant experience in the coffee & doughnut shop across the road from the Holiday Inn (USA), for about 1/4 the price. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 8:06
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    Kettles are not a given in France and rare in most of continental Europe.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 8:07
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    True. They nearly are in the UK, and I've had them in France and Germany (but I've only stayed in only 2 hotels in Germany, and only recall using a kettle in one - I was on expenses and had plenty of time for breakfast). If it came to it, I'd happily do pastries & juice from the supermarket, coffee shop later even though I run on coffee. Of course enjoying the breakfast is sometimes part of the holiday experience - it all depends on the holiday Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 8:10
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    I do not drink coffee at all. Hotel breakfast is a holiday luxery for me.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 8:13

This is not specific to booking.com but pretty common across the hotel industry. I have seldom if ever found breakfast to be cheaper if booked in advance but there are so many small differences between countries and hotels that I certainly cannot rule that out.

It's mostly about the convenience of having it arranged in advance, especially if someone else is booking for you (no need to expense it separately after the fact). In really small hotels, knowing the day before is also important to help planning so you may be asked whether and when you intend to take breakfast, even if it is already paid for. In my experience, if you haven't booked breakfast, you will always be asked again when checking in.

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    no need to expense it separately after the fact I think that all of my recent hotels had a specific line for the breakfast (one of the reasons was certainly the VAT).
    – WoJ
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 18:27
  • I think expensing it separate is more for when you eat outside the hotel.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 20:00
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    I have definitely chosen a "breakfast included" rate, and then seen an on-site price that was much higher than the little extra I paid.
    – stannius
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 22:00
  • @WoJ Probably but that's not what I am talking about, I don't even need to see this invoice if it's been handled at booking time. Not so for expenses I pay on the spot.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 7:54
  • @Willeke Not sure what you mean, expensing is for everything you spend.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 7:57

My general experience is that it's cheaper to buy in advance, at worst the same.

However you may not be able or want to have breakfast at the hotel every day of your stay (you may be wiped out from lack of sleep and jet lag the first morning and miss the window, you may have to leave at some ungodly hour on your last day, you may have meetings or leisure excursions inbetween that require very early departures, and finally on a stay of more than a few days you may simply get sick of the repetition of hotel breakfasts, even if the food is quite good. Local restaurants may have fantastic breakfasts that you would prefer to enjoy without leaving money on the (hotel) table- and if you are expensing the trip you might have to justify the duplicate breakfast to someone other than yourself.

The quality and value of hotel breakfasts is also quite variable, so a bit of research may be called for if the total amount of money is significant to you. At least read the reviews critically and adjust for local standards (a US motel is not likely to be in the same league as even an inexpensive hotel in northern Europe).


In my experience (though I suspect this is hugely market-dependent), it's usually cheaper than eating in the hotel restaurant, but significantly more expensive than buying food elsewhere.

When I've had long stays away for work, or been traveling with a group, I generally find stocking up on breakfast goods via a nearby supermarket works out much better. It's cheaper, you don't have to wait for service or a table, and (depending on your preferences) you may well have a better range available.

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