Second to free room upgrades and wi-fi, having breakfast included with a hotel stay is one of my favorite perks that comes with a hotels’ elite status. Often you get a free ‘continental’ breakfast when you stay at a Holiday Inn Express in the US, but this can barely be considered breakfast when compared to top-tier international hotels you can stay at using points. On top of saving money by not having to pay out-of-pocket for breakfast I always find it interesting to enjoy some of the local foods offered at a quality breakfast spread.
Many lower-tier hotels offer a free ‘continental’ breakfast, but by having either gold or platinum status with a hotel you can get guaranteed free breakfast at even top-tier hotels. Breakfast at high-end European hotels can easily run $30+ per day so this can be a huge money saver. Many hotel brands have their own breakfast policy and it can even differ from hotel to hotel. This post will go over which hotels’ elite status levels will get you a guaranteed breakfast or breakfast in a club lounge.
You may have hotel elite status from frequently staying at one hotel brand, but if you don’t always book at the same hotel or travel enough to earn status you can earn hotel status by having a co-branded credit card. I’ve also included all the card options for getting automatic hotel elite status at many of these hotels.
Hotel Brands that Include Breakfast
Some hotels brands always offer breakfast to all guests, but usually the spread is less than great and leave you wanting more, and some can be downright inedible. A few of these brands include Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Hyatt Place, and many Best Western Hotels. Each has its own spread of eggs, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, baked goods, cold and hot cereal and beverages, and fruit.
Apart from these brands, some hotels offer breakfast to all guests at their discretion, so even though you may not have elite status you may receive breakfast at no cost. For all other times and to guarantee a free breakfast consider applying for one of the credits cards listed below to get automatic elite status with a hotel loyalty program.
Free Breakfast with Elite Status & Credit Card Membership
Often times elite status may be required to get free breakfast at top-tier properties at these hotels, but in many cases a co-branded credit card gives you automatic elite status. I’ve compiled a list of what hotel elite status and credit cards get you complimentary breakfast.
Free breakfast for Diamond Gold Passport members, which takes 50 nights or 25 stays. Diamond members get complimentary continental breakfast in the Regency Club or Grand Club, or a full breakfast in hotels without a club lounge. This benefit varies widely from ordering whatever you want from the menu, room service, or a certain dollar amount per stay. Guests with access to the Regency Club or Grand Club also get free evening hors d’oeuvres. You’ll have to earn Diamond status from qualifying stays or status match, but you can get automatic Platinum status with a United MileagePlus Club credit card or Hyatt Credit Card from Chase.
Gold and Platinum members of Hilton HHonors get free breakfast. Gold members will get a complimentary continental breakfast and Platinum members are offered breakfast in the Executive Floor Lounge (when available). Gold members that receive an Executive Floor room upgrade will also get access to the Executive Club Lounge. To earn Gold status you have to stay 40 nights or a total of 20 stays, and 60 nights or 30 stays to earn Platinum status. You can get automatic Gold status with a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature, and the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express.
Platinum members of Starwood Preferred Guest get free continental breakfast. To earn Platinum status it takes 50 nights or 25 stays. Breakfast is considered one of the welcome gift options, so you’ll have to choose between breakfast, 500 SPG bonus points, or local amenities. At hotels that include breakfast you still have access as a Platinum members, so you can also get the 500 bonus Starpoints. SPG Platinum members get access to the club lounge at Sheraton and Westin Hotels, and if there is not a lounge guests can choose breakfast as their Platinum welcome benefit at check-in.
Gold and Platinum members of Marriott Rewards or Ritz-Carlton Rewards get free breakfast in the club lounge or at the hotel restaurant if there is no lounge. Gold status takes 50 nights and Platinum takes 75 nights for either program. You can get automatic Gold status with Ritz-Carlton for the first year with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase. You may also be able to get Marriott Gold status through United’s RewardsPlus partnership if you are a United elite member.
Gold and Platinum members of Ritz-Carlton get free room upgrades (excluded Club Level and Suites) upon availability at check-in. It takes 50 nights to earn Gold status and 75 nights to earn Platinum status. Membership status levels crossover with Marriott Rewards program. Guests that are upgraded to a Club Level room get access to the club lounge that offers a hot breakfast buffet as well as light snacks and cocktails in the evenings. You can get automatic Gold status and 3 Club Level upgrades annually with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card with Chase.
Concierge members of Club Carlson get free continental breakfast at most in-hotel restaurants, however I have almost always received free breakfast as a Gold member. Often times it is up to the hotels discretion to include breakfast for other members or all guest, so YMMV. It takes 35 nights or 20 stays to earn Gold Status, and 75 nights or 30 stays to earn Concierge status. You can get automatic Gold status with the Club Carlson Visa (both personal and business cards). By having Gold status from this card I received breakfast at four Radisson Blu hotels in Europe last fall, and in two cases I was given access to the club lounge as well.
IHG Rewards Club
IHG Rewards Club is one of the few hotel programs that does not include free breakfast as an elite status perk. However many IHG hotels offer breakfast to all guests and FlyerTalk has a great thread of elite status members experiences that often include breakfast information. Remember that you can get automatic Platinum Elite status with the IHG(R) Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase, which will give you free room upgrades.
InterContinental Ambassador benefits do not cross over to all IHG hotel brands, but IHG Rewards Club member status and benefits apply to all hotels within the brand. However this doesn’t help much in terms of getting free breakfast. Having Royal Ambassador status (extended by invitation only) will get you free breakfast, but it’s at the hotel discretion.
Fairmont President’s Club doesn’t offer free breakfast as an elite status benefits but you can get 2 free nights including breakfast for two with the Fairmont Visa Signature Card from Chase.
Read here to find out how to get free room upgrades at most hotels.
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