Breakfast, the adage goes, is the most important meal of the day. How I agree. Lunch, I can take or leave – I shovel some home-made soup or last night’s leftovers down and carry on working without really noticing what I’m eating. But if I don’t get a proper breakfast I get all crabby and liable to fly into a murderous rage with anyone who crosses my path.
I had a pretty crap breakfast experience the other day, while staying at a well-known “hotel” chain.
This “breakfast” was presented in a plastic bag, and contained:
* a chocolate muffin (CAKE?! At 7am?! WHY?? A joke, surely?)
* a croissant (greasy, sugary dough? At the crack of dawn? Ugh.)
* a small plastic tub containing sugar-laden cereal and some manner of long-life processed ‘milk’. Yuk.
* a tiny tub of jam. More sugar. Cheers.
* a small plastic bottle of “juice concentrate”. Yet more sugar. Thanks for that.
It all added up to one big plastic sack of fat and sugar – as one colleague put it, “crap in a bag”. An early morning nightmare for diabetics, dieters and anyone prone to indigestion, or anyone who likes a healthy, tasty, edible breakfast.
To add insult to injury we were told that we were not allowed to take our bag into the restaurant area to eat with our colleagues – we could eat it only in our rooms – presumably to deter us from exchanging views on how rubbish the “breakfast“ was. Maybe they could see the shape of things to come – enraged, hungry guests storming the kitchens in search of proper food.
Feeling fairly murderous I put pen to paper the moment I got home, with a view to writing to the chain concerned, but wimped out of sending the letter as someone else was paying for my stay at this particular hell-hole, so I felt it wasn’t my place to whinge about it.
But here is what I would have sent had I been bolder.
“If you had been staying, as I was, at the [name withheld] in Birmingham the other day, you would have witnessed the widespread disappointment and disgust among the guests on receipt of the so-called ‘breakfast’ bag that has been introduced since your company took over the hotel.
As you were not there (perhaps you were having a nice breakfast somewhere else), I thought you might like to hear about:
* the guest I saw dropping his bag into the bin with a look of disgust
* The guests I overheard saying they would not be staying here again if this was the kind of catering they could expect in future
* the group of 10, myself included, who refused to accept a ‘breakfast’ bag and instead went for a proper breakfast elsewhere, at considerable expense. In fact, I was the only one of the group who did take a bag, and that was for the purposes of photographing it to show to anyone who would not otherwise believe that this was what now passed for ‘breakfast’ at a national hotel group.
I have stayed at this hotel on many occasions while visiting trade fairs at the NEC and, while the breakfast has never been especially exciting, it did at least offer fresh fruit (a vital part of most people’s morning meal), toast and a choice of cereals and preserves.
When told about the new ‘breakfast’ bag by a colleague I thought it was a joke until I saw it with my own eyes. It was hard to know whether to laugh or cry. I can laugh about it now, having had a few decent meals in the meantime, but at the time I felt insulted.
I’m guessing this is all about cutting costs in order to provide “budget” accommodation – but the £85 per night room rate is hardly budget. The Metropole (a proper hotel) was offering rooms the same week for a similar price (including a proper breakfast).
I don’t like waste so I am returning to you this fat-laden, sugar-rich, tasteless, nasty meal. I don’t want it. No-one else wants it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Do feel free to send me a photograph of you eating it – if you do, I will take back everything I’ve said.”