I stay in hotels quite a lot, both for business travel and when I'm playing at a bridge event. I usually have the traditional breakfast, i.e. the full English, and am quite critical of the hotel if they fail to come up to my standards. So for all you hotel managers out their, if you want to keep on my good side here's how you are marked.
- Firstly there's the process of being seated, I don't expect to be kept waiting in a queue if I have already booked in for breakfast, nor do I want someone telling me I am not on the list. I realise there are peaks and troughs with people arriving but don't keep the whole queue waiting because one person has forgotten their room number.
- Obviously, the table should be clean and I like to be offered tea or coffee shortly after arriving, a choice of teas is welcome, woe betide you if you don't have my favourite (Earl Grey). Toast is also better from the kitchen rather than those machines that are invariably set to loop around once for underdone, twice for burnt. I also expect a choice of breads not just white sliced.
- A good selection of cold drinks and, for those who procure the glasses, please don't scour the internet for the tiniest vessels available just because you think people will drink less. I've seen larger shot glasses than what some hotels have on offer. (Pro tip: keep a pint glass from the bar when you retire for the evening, it's useful for those hangover preventing water drinks at bedtime and you get proper volume of fruit juice.)
- A good choice of cold items, cereals, fruit, yoghurts, cheese, pastries etc. I'm not a great devourer of these but the good lady wife is.
- For the main event, I expect heated plates, they don't have to be too hot to handle but at least not cold, a good choice of traditional foods, black pudding being a particular favourite but at least sausages, bacon, beans, tomato, mushrooms and a form of potato, usually hash browns. I personally don't eat eggs but there should at least be a choice of fried and scrambled. Bonus marks for more unusual items such as red pudding or choices of sausages.
- The hot food should also be relatively fresh, I don't want something that's sat under the heat lamp for hours. Nor do I expect to be greeted by a plate with one miserable sausage on offer and have to hunt for staff to replenish it.
- Friendly staff, I'm sorry you're working at this time on a weekend but that's not my fault.
A good establishment should be scoring at least 7 out of 10 although a couple I stayed at recently only got about 5. The best Breakfast I have had in the UK was at the Hilton in Paddington which scored 9+. It was expensive though, this was a few years back and even then it cost about £25. If you happen to be in Islington and fancy a satisfying meal that's great value for money then you can't beat the Hope Workers' Cafe on the Holloway Road. It's good for lunch too!