Continental breakfast: what is it?

Continental breakfast: what is it?

Stay at any self-respecting hotel and the chances are that you will be offered a continental breakfast as part of your booking package. In fact, many travellers love nothing more than a reference to this as a classic ‘free’ breakfast offer when they book their accommodation. But what type of meal is on offer, exactly?

Simple, delicious, light – and quick breakfast!

This type of breakfast meal is basically about simplicity. Continental breakfasts are very popular with hotels for being a cost-effective option and for allowing busy travellers to self-serve and get going, without the time and expense of a complex sit-down meal. The breakfast is also a lighter alternative to the ‘Full English’.

Good hotels will typically provide a buffet with dishes such as toast, bagels and fresh rolls, along with jams, honey, butter and other condiments.

There will be pastries and croissant, cereals of different kinds and a range of beverages such as tea, coffee, milk and fresh juices.

Some hotels go one step further and include protein options such as thinly sliced cheeses, chorizo or ham. Others will provide cooked options such as bacon, sausages and eggs. Sometimes there will be yoghurt with fresh fruit and granola toppings such as nuts, seeds and dried fruits.

What is a continental breakfast? - Faber

The history behind the breakfast meal

The entire concept of this breakfast style came from North America in the late 19th century, when hotels were keen to appeal to European tourists and the burgeoning American middle classes. Until that time, traditional American breakfasts were designed to meet the needs of a heavy labouring class, with eggs, meat, bread, grits and fish all commonly on the menu.

As the American population became more middle-class and professional, and incoming tourists from Europe came in ever greater numbers to take advantage of the new package holidays, breakfast choices lightened to reflect more delicate tastes. The European influence was particularly strong here, as inbound travellers to the US tended to have little more than some fruit, pastries and coffee for breakfast. American hotels responded to customer needs, and it has been with us ever since!

What is a continental breakfast? - Faber

Bring the finest Continental breakfast ideas to your kitchen

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