What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (2023)

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (1)

If you travel often or have ever stayed in a hotel, there’s a good chance you have come across a continental breakfast.

These complimentary breakfasts are available at many chain hotels, on cruises, and at resorts.

While continental breakfasts are common for many people, they actually have an interesting history and are more complicated than most people realize.

Understanding everything that goes into a continental breakfast will not only give you a little more appreciation for such a simple meal but will also help you determine if this type of breakfast is right for you.

What Is A Continental Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (2)

A continental breakfast is a meal that is served during morning hours and consists of a variety of light foods such as pastries, eggs, yogurt, and cereals.

Coffee, milk, and fruit juices are also served as part of a continental breakfast.

The food items can vary but are usually fast and simple items that are easy to prepare and restock.

Most continental breakfasts are served buffet-style, but in some cases, a staff member may serve the foods.

Many options are grab-and-go, but there are also various stations where food can be prepared to order.

Continental breakfasts are typically offered as a complimentary service for guests who are staying at hotels, resorts, or even on cruises.

What Foods Are Served At A Continental Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (3)

The items served during a continental breakfast are at the discretion of the establishment that offers it.

Since continental breakfasts are supposed to be quick to allow travelers to get a tasty meal and head out the door to their next destination, the food items are usually simple, easy for the hotel to prepare, and easy for guests to add to their plates while moving through a line.

Some common continental breakfast items include:

  • Donuts
  • Packaged pastries
  • Yogurt
  • Fresh fruit
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Instant Grits
  • Toast
  • Bagels
  • Muffins
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jellies and jams
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • Sausage Links
  • Biscuits and gravy

Do All Hotels Offer Continental Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (4)

Not all hotels offer continental breakfast, and not all continental breakfasts are the same.

Some only offer a very limited selection of items that are mostly grab-and-go and prepackaged.

Others will prepare foods that are served warm or chilled.

Many hotels proudly advertise their free continental breakfast on their websites, signs, or commercials because they are attractive to travelers.

If you are unsure if a hotel is offering continental breakfast, or you need to learn more about the types of foods that are included with the breakfast, you can check the hotel’s website or call customer service.

Is Continental Breakfast Served On Cruises?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (5)

Some cruises do offer continental breakfasts.

This can vary by cruise line and cruise ship.

Some only offer continental breakfast on the first or last day of a cruise, and others offer it every day.

The continental breakfast is typically served buffet-style and will be offered in one of the smaller bars, restaurants, or lobbies of the ship.

(Video) What Is A Continental Breakfast?

Some cruise lines also provide continental breakfast with room service.

They will offer a room service menu in the stateroom with a list of continental breakfast items that are available.

You choose the ones you want and call to place your order.

The continental breakfast is typically free on a ship, even as room service, but the menu may be limited.

Some ships also have door hanger menus that have continental breakfast options on them.

You check the ones you want and must have the menu hanging back on the outside of the door by a certain time on the night before.

Continental breakfasts may be available any day of the cruise or only on port days.

Is Continental Breakfast Served At All-Inclusive Resorts?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (6)

Many all-inclusive resorts offer continental breakfast.

It is not always a popular option at resorts because most meals are free, so many guests are less likely to choose simple options.

Resorts do offer continental breakfast as a quick option for anyone who may have an excursion or beach day planned and doesn’t want to wait in line at restaurants or buffets.

Continental breakfasts make it possible for resort guests to grab something quickly before they head out for their next adventure.

Can Continental Breakfast Be Served By Room Service?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (7)

Continental breakfasts are typically served buffet-style, but some hotels, cruises, and resorts do offer continental breakfasts as part of their room service menu.

These items may be the same as the options service in a traditional continental breakfast or may be more limited.

In most cases, guests will need to arrange for a room service continental breakfast the night before it will be delivered.

Many hotels do not offer room service at all but do serve a continental breakfast in the lobby of the hotel or a separate dining area.

Why Is It Called Continental Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (8)

The continental breakfast gets its name from the continent of Europe and the type of breakfast that is common there.

Until the late 19th century, many Americans were working labor-intensive jobs that required a large calorie intake.

Breakfast meals were the heaviest meals of the day because they were meant to provide energy for a morning’s worth of work and also keep workers from getting hungry before lunchtime.

At the end of the 19th century and into the start of the 20th century, Americans started working more sedentary jobs in offices or factories.

This meant they needed fewer calories to sustain them between meals and to help them get through the morning until lunch.

A lighter breakfast was more sufficient.

During this same time, Europeans began to travel to the United States and other parts of the world, and they brought many of their traditions and personal tastes with them.

They were unimpressed by the heavy breakfasts offered in many parts of the world and instead used their own preferred light breakfast to influence a new lighter option.

They persuaded the British to change up their heavy breakfasts first, and the continental breakfast was born.

(Video) Continental Breakfast Explained

The name officially caught on by 1855 and spread to other countries.

In the United States, Europeans started staying at hotels and expecting breakfast.

Hotel owners wanted to cater to their tastes, so they began creating light breakfast options that Europeans would enjoy.

The ease and affordability of this type of breakfast appealed to hotel owners, and it soon became the go-to option.

At the time, most hotels or lodging options in the United States were operated as boarding houses, and hosts typically provided meals for their guests at no additional charge.

Being able to offer lighter and more affordable meals meant the hotels could increase profits while still providing their guests with the same experience.

The continental breakfast quickly became popular, and as travel expanded from a work-related necessity to a leisure activity, more travelers found that they preferred lighter, faster, and more affordable breakfast options.

Today, many hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and cruise lines offer a continental breakfast to guests.

Why Do Hotels Offer Continental Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (9)

Hotels offer continental breakfast as a way to entice guests and make travel a little easier for them.

Many travelers expect meals to be available at the hotel where they stay.

Some guests would prefer not to have to leave the hotel once they arrive.

While some hotels offer a large room service menu, have bars that serve food and drink, or have restaurants attached, many smaller hotels do not have the space or staff to provide these dining options.

Continental breakfasts make it possible for smaller hotels to offer breakfast and compete with larger hotels that do the same.

Continental breakfasts are preferred by many travelers.

Some guests have plans that start early, and they don’t have time to go to a restaurant or wait for a big meal to be prepared.

Instead, they appreciate the ability to grab a light meal or pre-packaged item and head off on their adventure.

A continental breakfast keeps things moving so guests who are in a hurry can move through the line and get what they prefer at their own pace, and those who want to sit down and enjoy their meal at a slower pace can do so as well.

Hotels also offer continental breakfast because it is affordable.

Continental breakfasts are often pre-packaged or include fresh ingredients that don’t have to be refrigerated, frozen, or stored for long periods.

Even those that do include meat, eggs, and other prepared options are usually shelf-stable or can be purchased in bulk to save money.

What Are The Different Global Breakfast Options?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (10)

While most hotels do prefer to serve continental breakfasts, there are other global breakfast options to consider.

The type of breakfast you are offered may be based on the area where you travel.

In the United States, some hotels offer afull American breakfast.

This is a very hearty breakfast that features a variety of breakfast meats, potato dishes, eggs, toast, biscuits, and pancakes or french toast.

Another healthier option is the traditional Japanese breakfast.

(Video) The Fascinating World of Anna Uddenberg and her Art - Continental Breakfast

It includes rice, which makes it heavy and filling, as well as steamed vegetables, eggs, fish, tofu, and even soup.

A traditional English breakfast is lighter than some other breakfast options but still includes heartier options.

Baked beans are a staple for English breakfast, but it also includes eggs, bacon, toast, and roasted vegetables.

Puddings are also popular with English breakfast.

In Italy, breakfast resembles tea time.

Italian breakfast consists of coffee and lattes as well as numerous pastries and bread.

Some consider it much lighter than a traditional continental breakfast.

What Is The Difference Between A Continental Breakfast And A Full Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (11)

Continental breakfast and full breakfast are very similar, but continental breakfasts are typically lighter, and the foods are not heated.

Traditionally, continental breakfasts consist of cold items such as yogurt, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs.

A full breakfast includes cooked foods that are served hot such as sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, and biscuits and gravy.

Some hotels serve full breakfast items as well as continental breakfast and simply call it a continental breakfast.

Many people have come to associate continental breakfast with any breakfast served at a hotel and included in the hotel price instead of the types of foods that are served.

Do Hotels Charge For Continental Breakfasts?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (12)

Most hotels, resorts, and cruisesoffer continental breakfast for free.

It is also sometimes called a complimentary breakfast to ensure that guests know it is free.

Some hotels may charge for continental breakfast.

Some may also offer different food items for an upcharge.

Who Makes The Continental Breakfast At A Hotel?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (13)

Most food items served as continental breakfast do not require a lot of preparation.

In most cases, they simply need to be heated or chilled.

Things such as fresh fruit, oatmeal, pastries, and drinks are set out and arranged to make them easy to grab.

Some hotels have employees whose only job is to come in early in the morning to prepare the breakfast items and set them out for guests.

This person may be a cook or chef, or it may be a hotel employee who works at the front desk.

Sometimes housekeeping is responsible for preparing breakfast or making it available to guests.

Hotels that offer continental breakfast as room service may have a specific room service staff that prepare and serve the breakfast.

During What Times Are Continental Breakfasts Available?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (14)

(Video) Anna Uddenberg: Fake-Estate / Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin

Continental breakfast times can vary by hotel or resort.

The most common time for continental breakfast to be served is between the hours of 6 am and 11 am.

Some hotels may offer their breakfast earlier or make it available later.

In most cases, the breakfast ends about an hour before checkout time.

This allows guests to enjoy breakfast and still have time to get packed up and check out promptly.

Are Continental Breakfasts Hygienic?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (15)

Some people don’t like the idea of a continental breakfast because it is set out for long periods, and even pre-packaged items can be touched and picked through by others.

Hotels that serve continental breakfast follow the same guidelines as restaurants and handle food carefully.

Cooked or heated food is checked often and rotated as needed to ensure there are only fresh items available on the buffet for guests.

Most hotels serve so many people that the food is rarely available for very long, and it is constantly being prepared and re-stocked.

If you are worried about getting fresh food, show up to breakfast when it starts.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating A Continental Breakfast?

What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained) (16)

Most travelers appreciate having a continental breakfast as an option, but it may not be the right choice for everyone.

It is meant to be a fast and convenient option for those who don’t have the time or money to visit a restaurant for breakfast.

It can be beneficial for those who need a quick bite and just want something simple.

Many people choose to eat a continental breakfast on the go.

If they are headed out to a destination, meeting, or need to get back on the road to travel, they can grab a few packaged foods and even eat them in the car.

Most continental breakfasts have a large selection of different foods, so another benefit of eating this type of breakfast is the ability to choose from many options.

Restaurant selections and room service options can be limited, but with a continental breakfast, you can find a variety of different things that you may enjoy.

Families with children will also appreciate that many continental breakfast items are things that kids enjoy.

Muffins, cookies, toast, cereal, and fruit juices are usually available and are easy for kids to eat.

Anyone on a budget who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on food or take a chance of going to a restaurant and ordering foods they may not like will appreciate being able to walk down to a hotel lobby or restaurant and have a selection of foods available at no extra cost.

The best thing about a continental breakfast is that there is no pressure to order.

Continental breakfasts can also be a great time to try something different or new.

If you have never had certain things that are available, you can try them as part of the continental breakfast without having to pay extra for them.

NEXT:Why Are Tuxedos So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)


What Is A Continental Breakfast? (Explained)? ›

The continental breakfast is a light option typically consisting of pastries and baked goods, fruits, toast, and coffee. It is usually served buffet-style and modeled after the European help-yourself breakfast, similar to what one would enjoy in France or in the Med.

What does continental breakfast mean? ›

Continental Breakfast Definition

A continental breakfast is a light morning meal typically consisting of pastries and baked goods, fruits, toast, and coffee.

What is an example of a continental breakfast? ›

The standard continental breakfast will have some combination of fruit, muffins, bagels, cereal, bread, croissants, pastries, waffles, yogurt, juice, milk, tea, and fresh coffee. Additionally, there will be butter, jam/jelly, cream, and sugar available. You can see the cereal, milk, fruit, and coffee.

What is the difference between continental breakfast and normal breakfast? ›

Breakfast (sometimes called Continental Breakfast) is usually pastries and bread, etc. whereas American Breakfast includes hot items like eggs, sausages, etc. Hope this helps. Helpful?

Does continental breakfast include eggs? ›

Generally, a continental breakfast does not include hot dishes like eggs or sausages. Instead, it consists of shelf-stable items like toast, cereals, bagels, and jams. However, some continental breakfasts may offer cold options like omelets or boiled eggs as well.

Does continental breakfast include pancakes? ›

An American breakfast typically includes eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and pancakes while a continental breakfast typically only includes coffee, tea, pastries, and fruit.

What 3 items does a continental breakfast usually include? ›

The continental breakfast is a light option typically consisting of pastries and baked goods, fruits, toast, and coffee.

Is a continental breakfast usually free? ›

Continental breakfasts are light, typically free meals that are often associated with hotels. Here's how The Food Lover's Companion, the definitive guide to all things food and cooking, defines continental breakfast: "A light breakfast that usually consists of a breadstuff (such as toast, croissants, pastries, etc.)

Why is it called continental breakfast in America? ›

The continental breakfast started when American hotels wanted to appeal to European tourists. These visitors from the "continent," or mainland Europe, were used to eating a lighter breakfast than what Americans typically ate at the time.

What's the difference between a continental breakfast and a hot buffet breakfast? ›

Helpful? Morning Rachel, Whilst we were there we had the full buffet , ie cooked food , cereals ,fruit etc and coffee . From my experience elsewhere over the world , continental breakfast does Not include any cooked food , merely cereals , fruit , coffee tea and juices . Obviously also croissants and other pastry .

What is typical American breakfast? ›

In the United States, breakfast often consists of either a cereal or an egg-based dish. However, pancakes, waffles, toast, and variants of the full breakfast and continental breakfast are also prevalent.

What is considered an American breakfast? ›

By definition, an American breakfast involves two eggs, a side of bacon or sausage, toast or cereal and your choice of juice. Pancakes may be offered as a side or alternative.

What fruit is served at continental breakfast? ›

Continental breakfasts provide some fruit as well to serve as a healthier option. This usually includes items like apples, bananas, melons, pears, grapes, and an assortment of berries. Another staple of the continental breakfast is fruit juice, where the option is traditionally between orange and apple juice.

What breads are served at continental breakfast? ›

The bread products that are included in a continental breakfast might include toast, doughnuts, pastries, croissants and rolls. Pancakes or waffles are less likely to be included, although toaster waffles might be offered.

What is the continental breakfast chair? ›

In the videos, the uniquely-shaped chair can be seen as women in suits climb onto the structure and sit in a strange position that doesn't look the comfiest. The chair was created by artist Anna Uddenberg as part of art installation by Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York where it was on display from March to April 2023.

What is a traditional English breakfast? ›

Sometimes also called a 'fry-up', the full English breakfast consists of fried eggs, sausages, back bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread and often a slice of white or black pudding (similar to bloodwurst). It is accompanied by tea or coffee and hot, buttered toast.

What is a medium breakfast? ›

Two hen's eggs, two sausages, bacon, beans or tomato and toast *. Have it your way! Eggs can be poached, fried or scrambled.

What is the most ideal breakfast? ›

For the most nutritious breakfast, try to choose whole, unprocessed foods from each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Try to include proteins from foods like yogurts (look for varieties with less sugar added), eggs, nuts and seeds or legumes.

What is the most eaten breakfast food? ›

Top 10 Breakfast Foods in America
  1. Bacon. Did you guess correctly?
  2. Pancakes. Pancakes have always been a popular breakfast food. ...
  3. Chicken and Waffles. When you can't decide between savory or sweet, choose chicken and waffles! ...
  4. Avocado Toast. ...
  5. Home Fries. ...
  6. Cereal. ...
  7. Breakfast Wrap. ...
  8. Breakfast Sandwich. ...
Nov 3, 2021

What are the requirements for continental breakfast? ›

“Continental breakfast” means the serving of only non-potentially hazardous, time/temperature control for safety food (TCS) such as a roll, pastry or doughnut, fruit juice, or hot beverage, but may also include individual portions of milk and other items incidental to those foods.

What is the difference between continental and non continental breakfast? ›

According to Chef Irfan Pabaney from The Sassy Spoon, Mumbai, "the major difference between these two kinds of food lies in the regions they are prepared in. Continental food is made in Europe and Oriental food covers the Southeast Asian region."

What comes under continental food? ›

Continental food refers to dishes made and consumed in the European countries. Dishes of French, Spanish and Italian cuisine fall under the category of 'Continental food'. The key specialty of this food is, they concentrate more on ingredients like olive oil, wine, herbs and minimal spices.

Do you tip for continental breakfast? ›

It is not customary to tip at a continental breakfast that is served buffet-style,” Bergen says. “It is customary and appreciated to tip during breakfast when there is a server who takes your order or serves coffee and juice.”

Why are hotel breakfasts so early? ›

Breakfast is typically the most popular meal at a hotel, so the kitchen staff has their hands full. They need to cook enough food for all of the guests, and they need to do it quickly. This is why breakfast is typically served early in the morning before the kitchen gets too busy.

What is a free deluxe continental breakfast? ›

A continental deluxe breakfast's claim to fame is the addition of protein to the normal motel breakfast fare. Most places serve eggs in one form or another, often scrambled or in premade circular shapes for breakfast sandwiches. You might also see links, patty sausages and sometimes bacon.

What is the opposite of continental breakfast? ›

Continental breakfasts were also a stark contrast to American-style breakfasts, which boasted large helpings of eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes, potatoes, and toast.

What is difference between American breakfast and English breakfast? ›

The full English was made up of bacon and sausage paired with eggs, mushrooms, beans, and tomatoes, against the American plate with pancakes, bacon, and butter.

What is French breakfast? ›

A French breakfast is sweet. It is composed of slices of buttered bread and jam spread on it, sometimes croissants or other pastries and cereals. Usually, the drinks are coffee, orange juice or milk.

What do Italians eat for breakfast? ›

Italians eat predominantly sweet things for breakfast. This can be quite a shock if you are used to having toast, eggs, and bacon first thing in the morning. Instead, the traditional breakfast in Italy relies almost exclusively on baked goods like biscuits, cookies, pastries, rusks, and cakes.

What is a German breakfast? ›

A German breakfast consists of hearty Brot (breads) and Brötchen (rolls), decorated with butter, sweet jams and local honey, thinly sliced meats, cheese and even some Leberwurst.

What do Japanese eat for breakfast? ›

Typically, a traditional Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, a protein such as grilled fish, and various side dishes.

What is the most popular breakfast in us? ›

1. Eggs. A breakfast without eggs is hardly a breakfast at all.

Why do Americans eat pancakes for breakfast? ›

Why do most Americans eat pancakes only for breakfast? Because bread is better. Pancakes used to be anytime food in the United States. Around the time of the American Revolution, it was traditional to serve pancakes during dinner—the largest meal of the day, consumed in the early afternoon.

Can you eat a bowl of fruit for breakfast? ›

Eating fruits is the best way to start your day as it is easy on your body to digest first thing in the morning. It also leads to increased metabolism rates for the next few hours thanks to the influx of natural fruit sugars.

Are apples a breakfast food? ›

So starting the day with one is never a bad idea. They help keep blood sugar stable and they're full of fiber, helping you feel full longer. As fall produce begins making an appearance at your local market, discover new ways to add apples to your breakfast routine.

What is another name continental breakfast? ›

continental breakfasts, also known as room service, are a great way to get a taste of the local cuisine without leaving your hotel room.

What are some breakfast foods from colonial times? ›

For breakfast colonist might have eaten porridge or mush, which is a warm cereal and could have been made with cornmeal, oats or beans. They may have had bread with butter and jam, but one thing they would not have had was milk!

What country eats bread for breakfast? ›

France: Bread, Pastries, and Coffee

A typical French breakfast is all about that delicious French bread, which is usually in the form of a baguette that is either still-warm from the bakery or else perfectly toasted using a "grille-pain" and spread with butter and jam.

What is continental breakfast 2023? ›

Continental Breakfast is the exhibition presented in 2023 at the Meredith Rosen Gallery in New York. It premiered with a live performance on March 18 and remained on view until April 29, 2023.

What is a cuddler chair? ›

Snuggle chairs, sometimes also known as loveseats or cuddle chairs, are large armchairs; incredibly comfortable for one person to curl up in, or large enough for two people to sit together.

What is a Kennedy chair? ›

The Kennedy Armchair from Laura Davidson is a reproduction of the Hans Wegner chair made famous in 1960 during the TV debate between Kennedy and Nixon. Constructed from American ash wood and Italian leather, this chair is a recognized classic that brings instant elegance to any room.

What is included in continental food? ›

Continental food refers to dishes made and consumed in the European countries. Dishes of French, Spanish and Italian cuisine fall under the category of 'Continental food'. The key specialty of this food is, they concentrate more on ingredients like olive oil, wine, herbs and minimal spices.

Who came up with continental breakfast? ›

The term “continental breakfast” originated in Britain in the mid-19th century. To the British, “the continent” refers to the countries of mainland Europe. A “continental breakfast” describes the type of breakfast you'd encounter in places like France and the Mediterranean.

Why is continental breakfast so early? ›

Mostly to cater to business travelers. Since business travelers' companies pay their expenses, they are more likely to pay a high price for breakfast versus the vacationer who may just pay for a cup of coffee out of his own pocket. Additionally, business travelers are usually gone from the hotel by 10:00 am anyway.

Is pancake a continental food? ›


From Rainbow Pancakes to Hot Chocolate Pancakes, you can experiment a lot with this continental dish.

Is pizza a continental food? ›

Pizza is a continental cuisine because it originated from Italy which is a country geographically situated in mainland Europe. Some other examples of continental dishes include cheese fondue, haggis and sausages.

Is Sizzler a continental food? ›

Paneer sizzler is an appetizing recipe of continental cuisine. It is a great option to pick when you want to indulge in something interesting. Paneer sizzler is full of soft and sumptuous Indian cottage cheese cubes mixed with sauces and spices that make it extremely tasty.


1. Continental breakfast and purpose Explained | Who is Anna Uddenberg #continentalbreakfast #explained
(Michael Samwel)
2. Define Breakfast? | Types of Breakfast | Continental Breakfast | F&B Knowledge | F&B Service |
(F&B Knowledge)
3. Why are Continental Breakfasts Called That?
(Today I Found Out)
4. Continental Breakfast Chair Explained
(Wax HD)
5. Continental Breakfast Setup II What is Continental Breakfast?
(HotelManagement Guru)
6. What is Continental Breakfast || Continental Breakfast chair || Topchef Records
(Topchef Records)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kerri Lueilwitz

Last Updated: 02/19/2023

Views: 5599

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kerri Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1992-10-31

Address: Suite 878 3699 Chantelle Roads, Colebury, NC 68599

Phone: +6111989609516

Job: Chief Farming Manager

Hobby: Mycology, Stone skipping, Dowsing, Whittling, Taxidermy, Sand art, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Kerri Lueilwitz, I am a courageous, gentle, quaint, thankful, outstanding, brave, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.