Skip to content

Questions to Ask and Consider Before Booking: pt 1 – Breakfast

November 19, 2010

This week’s entry of “musings from the inn” is the first in a muli-part series dedicated to helping YOU become a more proactive and educated bed and breakfast / inn guest. This week we tackle the topic of breakfast.

Aside from the bed, which we trust is provided in the cost of the room, the second major element of your stay at a bed and breakfast / inn is the breakfast itself. Although the word “breakfast” is in the name of the accommodation, the actual meal of breakfast can be run very differently from place to place, even within a city.

Below is a set of questions to ask when making a reservation or doing your research about where to stay. Consider the answers you are given to these questions before booking your stay.

1. Is breakfast included in the cost of the room?

Even though a place may call itself a “bed and breakfast,” breakfast may not be included in the quoted room rate. Some B&Bs include breakfast in the cost of the room, but will offer a “discount” if you choose to take breakfast elsewhere. Not including breakfast, or offering discounts for no breakfast, really make me wonder – is this place actually a “bed and breakfast?” If a place offers to cut breakfast, how much effort is really going to be put into the meal itself if you decide to take breakfast at the inn?

At the Catherine Ward House Inn, we consider breakfast to be a very important element of your stay, and part of the reason why you chose to stay at a B&B rather than a hotel or motel. Because of this, we always include breakfast in the quoted price of the room.

For some, breakfast may not be important, but for those who do care about this meal and portion of their stay – pay attention to the answer you are given to this question.

2. What kind of breakfast do you serve?

There seems to be an ever-growing list of “types” of breakfasts. Here’s a rundown of the most common kinds. If ever you’re confused by an answer given, ask for clarification, including sample menus.

Continental: Basic. Typically includes coffee/juice with different types of bread, including sweet breads, pastries, rolls, and bagels. Allows diners to eat independent of the kitchen staff and other diners, as it is typically served as a “self-serve” spread or buffet.

Continental Plus: Continental breakfast with the addition of fruits, eggs, limited meats (bacon and sausage) and prepared cereals (oatmeal or cold cereal). This has become the most common breakfast at major hotel chains across America. Allows diners to eat independent of the kitchen staff and other diners, as it is typically served as a “self-serve” spread or buffet.

European: Describes a wide variety of types of breakfast. Similar to continental, but with a heavy influence of hearty breads, cheeses, jams/jellies, and cold-cut meat. May be served with limited fruit.

Full Breakfast: A multi-course breakfast with coffee/juice. Typically begins with a fruit course, followed by a hot course, which may include eggs, starch (potatoes/French toast), meat (sausage/ham/bacon), and vegetables (fresh tomatoes/mushrooms).

At the Catherine Ward House Inn, we serve a full breakfast every day of the week. Our fruit course selection is based on availability of produce. Our hot course varies daily in an effort to limit repetition during a guests’ stay and typically switches between sweet and savory dishes.

3. When planning your menu, do you consider your guests’ dietary needs/food preferences?

At the Catherine Ward House Inn, we do our best to ask all of our guests when they book a room if there are any foods that they cannot eat, don’t like to eat, or would rather just not eat. We ask so we can adjust our menu accordingly. We prepare food that all of our guests can enjoy, regardless of dietary needs. This means that we limit meat to a side dish – if you’re a vegetarian or just don’t like a certain type of meat, it won’t even end up on your plate. If you cannot eat a certain food due to allergy or medication (or even if you just don’t like something), we will not prepare food that you cannot eat during your stay – or we will accommodate your needs with a separate menu (we have become very versed over the years with accommodating, for example: gluten allergies, lactose intolerance, and diabetic needs). We select our fruit based on availability, but also consider that some guests cannot eat certain fruits and others may not like certain fruits. All of these considerations in our menu planning require a little assistance from our guests – our success hinges on our guests letting us know about any dietary requirements at the time of booking or before their arrival.

4. How is breakfast served?

There are many different ways to serve breakfast. Here’s a rundown of the most common ways.

Self-serve: Typically limited to continental or continental plus breakfasts. Food options are typically laid out in a buffet style to allow guests to grab the foods they wish to eat. Staff re-fills options as needed.

Family-style: Group seating of guests at a single table (or two) with dishes of food options passed around the table. (Think family dinners) This seating allows guests to interact with each other. Expect lively conversation between guests.

Served group seating: Group seating of guests at a single table (or two) with course(s) served by staff. Dishes are often also removed from the table by staff. This seating allows guests to interact with each other without the need to interrupt conversation with requests to “pass the eggs.” Expect lively conversation between guests.

Served private tables: Small tables for two to four. Intended to provide a more “intimate” dining experience. Course(s) are served by staff. Dishes are often also removed from the table by staff.

At the Catherine Ward House Inn, we serve breakfast as a served group seating. We have one large dining room table that can accommodate up to 8 guests at a time. Our staff is trained to serve guests and to be attentive to any special needs (more coffee, tea, juice, and unexpected requests) without being intrusive to the ongoing conversation. Staff is also skilled at helping jump-start the conversation, on the rare event that our guests are “too quite” in the morning.

5. When is breakfast served?

Breakfasts that are self-served are often served throughout a range of times (ie: 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM). Served breakfasts typically require guests to sign up for specific dining times so staff can be staffed accordingly.

At the Catherine Ward House Inn, because we have served group seatings for breakfast, we require that guests sign up for a time they wish to dine. The size of our dining room table dictates that we can accommodate up to 8 guests at a time. This means that on days when we have a full house, we have two breakfast seatings. These typically occur at 8:30 and 9:30 AM, but can be varied based on the house’s consensus. We try to work it all out depending on tour schedules, checkouts, etc. We try to stay flexible for those one or two folks who have to get up very early or may sleep in.

Hopefully these questions will help guide you when making future reservations at B&Bs or other hospitality locations.

Stay tuned for future installments of this multi-part series intended to help YOU become a better educated and more proactive traveler.

To the travelers out there: What questions to you suggest people ask their accommodations about breakfast? Any questions you wish we answered in this installment? Any questions you hope we cover in future installments? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Advertisements
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Thom Gibbons permalink
    November 21, 2010 3:02 pm

    Great post. I’m never sure what kind of breakfast I am going to get when I stay at a B&B. Now, I’ll be better prepared.

Trackbacks

  1. Questions to Ask Before Booking: pt 5 – What Happens When Life Happens « Catherine Ward House Inn Blog
  2. Questions to Ask Before Booking: pt 6 – Fido Wants a Vacation Too « Catherine Ward House Inn Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: