The Technology Of Hotel Breakfasts

By | April 11, 2005

I hate, for the most part, hotel breakfasts. They’re dreadful, overpriced affairs in over-airconditioned caverns offering buffets of dried-out, re-heated mush which has to be labeled so guests can figure out what it is they’re eating. There has to be a better way.

Two pet peeves:

  • The buffet toaster: usually a conveyor type machine where you slot a piece of bread in one end and it disappears, coming out five minutes later barely toasted on one side and black on the other. Chances are that if you haven’t been standing over the machine in the meantime, someone else has either stolen your piece or fingered it.
  • The over-eager waiter/ress: Not their fault, because they’re told to do it, but what is it with the need to hover over guests as they’re eating, swooping in and swiping any plate, spoon, cup or yoghurt carton as soon as it’s put down by the guest? This behaviour drives me nuts as it’s impossible to relax and read the paper for fear that by putting down a spoon for 10 seconds to turn a page, a waiter will descend and grab your plate away from you. This morning I lost some yoghurt, some Rice Krispies (I’m a sucker for them, still) and a half-glass of grapefruit juice because I wasn’t quick enough.

This is a solution-oriented blog, so here are my solutions:

  • The buffet toaster: Toasters need serious work by technology companies. Even the kitchen toaster could do with a makeover. But in the meantime, hotels should have one of the over-eager waiters cut fresh bread on request and toast it for guests. Either that, or small kitchen-style toasters should be installed around the restaurant so guests can more easily identify which is their toast, and don’t have to walk halfway across the restaurant to retrieve it.
  • The hovering waiter: Don’t clear away anything until the end of the meal, or until a guest puts the plates, cups or whatever right at the edge of the table. Don’t refill coffee cups unless the guest asks for it. A good waiter should be invisible but available, hovering at the corner of a guest’s eye. To counteract these dawn-raids, guests should get T-shirts made with the logo ‘Don’t take away my plates until I ask you to. I’m trying to have breakfast, not a heart attack’.  I’m thinking of having some made up. Anyone want to order one?

3 thoughts on “The Technology Of Hotel Breakfasts

  1. pieman

    Not just the equipment. Hotel toasting bread, in Asia at least, is also a bit crappy. Hasn’t anyone heard of Mother’s Pride? Also, the Rice Krispies are not the same out here in my experience. Smaller, slightly harder and with less snack, crackle and pop than I’ve had in the UK. I thought I’d been diddled the first time I had some. Special K is a reliable score here in Vietnam. As for waiters, you are quite right, but part of the problem could be your Britishness. The French would have a prissy waiter sorted out in no time. We, on the other hand, prefer to internalize our discomfort. Probably a major cause of bowel and prostrate cancer in UK males.

  2. Jeremy

    Good point on the bread, and I bow to your greater wisdom on the Krispie thang. On cultural inhibitions, I have none when it comes to waiters/resses. I admire them when they’re good, and am snippy when they’re intrusive. One poor soul this morning got it particularly hard when she tried to take my yoghurt. The cartons are small enough as it is, but removing it only half eaten was a sin even I in my Britishness could not tolerate. She retreated like a scolded cat.

  3. pieman

    It takes really bad service to make me snip. However, that depends upon where I’m staying and how much I’m paying. Maybe half finished yoghurt pinching is a HK thing?


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