Category Archives: Breakfast

The Myth of Continental Breakfast

On the Continent (in Switzerland anyway), hotel breakfasts are generous and delicious.

US motels and motor inns give the phrase “Continental breakfast” a bad name. It is usually pathetic — a couple of kinds of juice from a dispenser, mediocre Danish pastries and/or donuts, teeny boxes of single-serving cereals, maybe make-your-own waffles that always make a mess, coffee, tea bags, hot chocolate packets. More often than not, disposable dishes, flatware, cups and glasses and a television in the breakfast room or motel lobby add to a dispiriting start to the day. Once upon a time, breakfasts in European hotels might have been more modest (and in some budget lodgings, they still are), but these days, in most hotels, they tend to be lavish, lovely and really delicious.

In Europe (aka, “the Continent”), hotels from mid-priced up lay out beautiful self-service breakfasts that resemble the most upscale buffet breakfasts in fine American hotels. Right now, I am at the Solis Cambria Hotel & Spa in Adelboden, Switzerland, where Continental breakfast includes pitchers of three kinds of juice, still and sparkling bottled water (both local and Pelligrino), fresh croissants, at least five kinds of freshly baked bread and rolls, at least eight cheeses, sliced fruit, hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, hot sausages, several types of ham and cold cuts, sliced smoked salmon, three of four varieties of cold cereal including house-made granola and house-made Muesli. Want an omelet? The kitchen will whip one up for you. Want coffee (including espresso drinks)? The waiter will bring the hot beverage of your choice. The tables are nicely set with linen napkins and real stainless flatware. Glasses are made of glasses. Plates, bowls and cups are crockery. It is all very lovely, very civilized and very authentically Continental — and always included in the price of the room.

I suppose my real gripe isn’t with the gulp-and-go offerings that are part of American motel or motor inn experience — but rather with calling them “Continental breakfast.” What an insult!