strawberries and blueberries in small bowl with spoon with crepes in background

Free Hotel Breakfasts: Tips for Healthy Vegetarian Meals

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If you enjoy free hotel breakfasts (who doesn’t?), here are some tips for healthy vegan and vegetarian choices. Are you planning a vacation or business trip? Then it’s convenient to look for a place to stay where they serve breakfast. You can save time and maybe money, and then get your day started early (if you want). Breakfast also gives you the opportunity to begin your day with plenty of energy and a clear focus for the day.

Which Hotels Offer Free Breakfast?

Some independent hotels offer a free breakfast buffet, and here are some hotel chains do as well (check their website or call before staying to be sure).

  • Fairfield Inn
  • Hampton by Hilton
  • Tru by Hilton
  • Embassy Suites
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • La Quinta Inn
  • Country Inn and Suites
  • Hyatt Place
  • Best Western (not all)
  • Homewood Suites
  • Residence Inn
  • Comfort Inn
  • Quality Inn
  • Staybridge Suites

(Sources: Meaghan Cameron, Reader’s Digest, 7/9/21, G. Brian Davis,, 6/28/22)

Other hotels may offer a continental breakfast.

Check the time breakfast is served to make sure you can get back on the road, get to your conference on time, or not sleep through it!

Sometimes you’ll be in vacation mode and choose foods based mainly on taste. Balance is important, though, so here are some ideas for how to choose healthy options to start your day right.

5 glasses of fruit smoothies with images of berries, kiwis, and carrots
Fruit Smoothies. Image by Silviarita from Pixabay

Breakfast selections vary a great deal. Overall, the options do seem to be much better from what I remember when traveling from my childhood: a paper cup of orange juice and a mini-powdered donut! Today, you can find a variety of hot foods, fresh fruits, smoothies, and your favorite hot beverages at most hotel breakfasts: and quite a few plant-based choices I’ll detail below.

Finding lower sugar, whole grain options at lower-cost motels and hotels can be difficult. I found mainly sugared cereals, canned juice, and white bread and bagels at one memorably bad hotel stay in Virginia.

Plant-Based Breakfast Choices

Here are some vegan menu items I have found on our trips to Florida.

  • Oatmeal with almonds, raisins, or dried cranberries
  • Granola (note that dried fruits, nuts, and granola are higher calorie choices)
  • Whole grain toast or bagel with peanut butter
  • Avocado toast
  • Cereal: look for whole-grain choices that are low in sugar
  • Breakfast burrito with corn, beans, and salsa
  • Vegan sausage
  • Cereal bars
  • Whole grain pilaf with greens
  • Fresh fruit like melons, berries, citrus fruits, apples, and bananas
  • Fruit juices
  • Almond or oat milk
    free breakfast examples of fresh fruit salad, whole wheat toast, and wild rice pilaf
    Healthy breakfast from Marathon, Florida

Nutrition in Free Hotel Breakfasts

These choices can make it easy to put together a high-fiber breakfast. Look for whole grains for complex carbohydrates – a great energy source – plus fiber. Depending on your fruit choices, you may also have plenty of potassium.

Rich sources of protein would include nuts, nut butter, vegan sausage, and bean burritos if you are fortunate enough to find these. Grains and vegetables contain smaller amounts of protein.

You can pack shelf-stable individual soy milk boxes if you like a high protein dairy-free milk at breakfast. That is something I wish more hotels offered.

Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian Breakfast Choices

If you follow an ovo-lacto or Mediterranean dietary pattern here are some more things to try:  plain or blueberry pancakes, French toast, vegetable omelets, eggs, cottage cheese, and reduced-fat yogurt and milk. We just got to try a pancake machine – so much fun to use!

We found some very tasty homemade fruit smoothies on a recent road trip with a stop in Savannah, Georgia!

Most hotel breakfasts serve muffins, danishes, and/or quick breads: try to limit to one or choose a mini muffin or danish to limit added sugar.

I hope these ideas help you find healthy foods at your next free breakfast.

More Ideas for Healthy Choices When Traveling

What is your favorite free hotel breakfast?  Please share in a comment below.

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Original: 8/26/17 Updated 7/12/22

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