Here’s Why Hotel Breakfasts Are Called “Continental”

It's the best part about staying in a hotel, after all.

The best part about staying in a hotel isn’t crisp, white sheets or comfy beds—it’s the free breakfast. There’s no better place to start your day than an all-you-can-eat buffet, after all. But at first glance, there’s nothing very “continental” about a continental breakfast. What’s the deal? Before you go on your vacation, make sure you know which foods you can and can’t bring on a plane.

No, American-style waffles and bagels don’t have anything to do with it. These nationwide breakfasts were actually modeled after the light morning meals common throughout the European continent. Hence, the word “continental.” (Before you check in anywhere, check and see if it’s one of the top bed and breakfasts in the country.)

As hoteliers popped up across the country, they began to offer a lighter alternative to American breakfasts, serving items like coffee, bread, pastries and fruit. It was a win-win situation all around: Not only did the buffet please the palates of European tourists, but it was also inexpensive and easy to provide for the hotels. Here are hotels that serve free hot breakfast food.

This wasn’t the kind of hearty meal that Americans were used to, though. In fact, when hotels first began serving light breakfasts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, American diners were outraged. Where were the juicy sausages? The heaping portions of eggs? Harper’s Weekly insisted the thought be banished from the “hemisphere where the Monroe Doctrine and the pie should reign supreme.”

Luckily, people aren’t as passionate about their hotel buffets anymore. More importantly, breakfast isn’t the only free perk you can get from your hotel. Find out what it was like to stay at Taco Bell’s pop-up hotel.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest