Hotel scams: Breakfast
Avoid hotel breakfasts (unless included in the rates)
A continental breakfast usually consists of little more than plain rolls, packaged jelly, and a cappuccino. Mmm, all that bounty for a mere $13. What a deal! If you can, try to get out of paying extra for a lame breakfast and hit a nearby cafe for a much cheaper breakfast alongside the locals.
Six main hotel rip-offs
• the minibar
• the telephone
• the parking garage
• the breakfast
• the laundry service
• the taxesA hotel breakfast usually costs anywhere from $5 to $35 per person, so if you have the option of opting out and getting some of that amount knocked off your hotel bill, you should do so.
Except in British and Irish B&Bs, some farm stays, or a Scandinavian smorgasbord, breakfast normally consists of croissants and/or rolls, maybe some packaged jams, coffee or tea, and some sort of weird European orange drink that tastes likes an early (and, thankfully, discarded) formula for Tang; it's wet, sweet, and vaguely orangey, but it certainly ain't juice.
Heck, you can get the same "hotel breakfast" (minus the definitely-not-Tang) from the corner cafe for $3 or less. Plus, if you patronize the neighborhood joint, you get the chance to rub elbows at the bar with locals on their way to work rather than share a hotel breakfast in a room filled with other tourists.
Only on very rare occasions and in the very cheapest hotels do they charge you as little for breakfast as the local cafe would.
Now I know that some hotels lay on a much more impressive spread—slices of ham, cheese, teensy boxes of cold cereal, even hot prepared foods like eggs and grilled breakfast meats (either of which is a sure sign the hotel is catering to Americans who would rather not be in a foreign country after all)—but even that is truly not worth the added expense. Skip it, hit the local bar, and get on with your day quickly and, dare I say, more authentically. (This often doesn't apply at beach resorts, which are little self-contained islands of commerce with no local options readily available.
I do, of course, make exception for the occasional full fry-up in Britain or Ireland, those hearty farm breakfasts, and the Swedish smorgasbord. Not for every morning, mind you (your cholesterol count probably couldn't take it), but on occasion.
However, if your hotel insists that breakfast is included in the rate and you cannot opt out, then you have carte blanche to bring your daypack down to breakfast with you and load it up with enough extra food to make at least a decent mid-morning snack if not a light picnic lunch out of it.
After all, the hotel did insist, and you are paying through the nose for it. Just don't be obvious about it; for some reason, they seem to frown upon this act of nonviolent protest.