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How to enjoy free breakfast and dinner on your next hotel stay

Summary

You can score major savings on your next trip by staying at a hotel that offers free breakfast – and dinner. Here’s the list of hotels and rewards credit cards that give you access to free meals.

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Dining out can add to your travel spending when you’re away from home, but your hotel may offer a money-saving solution.

Many hotels offer complimentary breakfast, but some include free dinner as an additional guest perk. A rewards credit card can also be useful in enjoying free meals.

As you prep for your next trip, here’s how to unlock free eats at hotels and increase rewards.

See related: 7 hotel rewards mistakes you should avoid

Which hotels offer free breakfast and dinner?

More hotels are jumping on the free breakfast bandwagon these days, but free dinner is a bit more selective.

This table highlights what’s on the menu at some of the top hotels.

Free breakfast and dinner at some of the major U.S. hotel chains

 

Hotel chainBreakfastDinner
Best WesternFree breakfast includedFree light dinner and cocktails offered Monday through Friday at select Best Western Navigator Plus locations
Canopy by HiltonFree breakfast buffet included; complimentary breakfast bags can also be delivered to your roomN/A
Comfort Inn and SuitesFree hot breakfast buffet included; complimentary breakfast bags also availableFree dinner available at select locations
Country Inn and SuitesFree hot breakfast buffet includedFree dinner available at select locations
Embassy SuitesFree made-to-order breakfastComplimentary snacks and beverages at the nightly evening reception
Fairfield Inn and SuitesFree hot breakfast buffet availableN/A
Hampton Inn and SuitesFree hot breakfast and breakfast bags availableFree dinner Monday through Thursday available at select locations
Holiday InnFree hot breakfast included at Holiday Inn Express locationsFree dinner available the night of arrival at Holiday Inn locations
Homewood SuitesFree hot breakfast includedFree beverages and appetizers available Monday through Thursday evenings
La Quinta Inn and SuitesFree breakfast includedFree dinner available at select locations
Residence InnFree hot breakfast includedFree cocktails and dining available Monday through Wednesday evenings
SpringHill SuitesFree breakfast includedFree drinks and light dinner fare available
Staybridge SuitesFree breakfast includedFree dinner available Tuesday through Thursday evenings
Wingate by WyndhamFree breakfast includedN/A

Dining policies may be property-specific

When in doubt about whether a hotel offers free dinner, drinks or snacks in the evening, ask at the front desk if they offer those amenities, says Jessica van Dop DeJesus, a travel expert with DiningTraveler.com.

Free cocktails, finger foods or full dinner may be more common at extended stay hotels, luxury properties or smaller boutique brands.

DeJesus favors Kimpton Hotels, a boutique brand owned by IHG, because they offer free wine and appetizers to guests at a daily happy hour.

Breakfast and dinner availability can vary widely within a brand’s family of properties.

  • All Sonesta ES Suites locations offer complimentary breakfast daily, says Sonesta representative Lorie Juliano, along with an evening social three nights per week. However, complimentary meals aren’t available at Sonesta’s full-service brands, Royal Sonesta and Sonesta Hotels & Resorts.
  • At Holiday Inn Express, you can enjoy a free breakfast buffet daily, but complimentary dinner is only available at Holiday Inn locations. This benefit applies to the evening of your arrival only.

See related: 3 ways to use your cards at boutique hotels

Hotel loyalty programs can offer dining freebies

Joining a hotel loyalty program can yield dining benefits, but you may need to reach a certain status in the program before you can take advantage of free meals.

With the Hilton Honors program, for instance, complimentary continental breakfast is available for Gold and Diamond members.

According to a Hilton Honors representative, you’ll also need Gold or Diamond status to receive a food and beverage credit at Hilton’s luxury properties, including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

A co-branded hotel credit card can help you gain elite status in hotel loyalty programs faster by:

If you’re joining a hotel loyalty program to get free dining benefits, read the rules carefully.

Jason Decker, travel rewards consultant with NomadTravelHacker.com, prefers World of Hyatt over other hotel loyalty programs because of its dining incentives.

However, starting Nov. 1, that program will only offer complimentary breakfast to World of Hyatt members who book directly – third-party bookings will no longer qualify for free breakfast.

Remember to take advantage of the program’s other perks, too, such as free Wi-Fi, room upgrades and a welcome gift at check-in, says Ahmed Bhuiyan, who runs the travel blog yourTripGuru. “For example, if you’re part of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program and have elite status, you get late checkout.”

See related:3 ways many rewards cards give you hotel status

Joining a hotel loyalty program can yield dining benefits, but you may need to reach a certain status in the program before you can take advantage of free meals

Don’t overlook rewards card, frequent flyer dining benefits

Your rewards credit card can also get you an invitation to free dinner.

Bhuiyan, for example, favors The Platinum Card® from American Express due to its Fine Hotel and Resorts program.

“If you book a participating hotel, you’re able to get perks like a $100 amenity, which in many cases covers a free lunch or dinner,” he says. In addition, the program includes complimentary daily breakfast for two people.

Frequent flyer membership and airline credit cards can help you land free meals as well.

DeJesus uses the Chase United Explorer card for travel, but as an added member benefit, she gets daily complimentary breakfast for two at Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection properties.

Marketing specialist and frequent traveler Adam Riemer uses the Hilton Honors program, which offers Gold status guests the option of earning points or a buffet breakfast in selected properties.

“What you’ll find is that many properties have free continental breakfast,” says Riemer, so you can choose the continental option and “get both the food and the points.”

Tip

Tip: Even if your hotel doesn’t offer free dinner, you could still turn rewards points into a free meal. The Hilton Honors program, for instance, allows you to use rewards to book exclusive dining experiences. Other programs that also let members redeem rewards for culinary experiences, such as dining cruises, include Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Rewards and Choice Hotels Privileges.

Consider a room upgrade to save on dining

Upgrading your stay can open even more free dining avenues. Both DeJesus and Decker recommend looking into hotels that offer club room access.

“Usually, club rooms offer complimentary breakfast and light snacks and drinks,” says DeJesus. Some of the hotel brands she recommends for club room bookings include Grand Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental.

If you’re planning an upgrade, do the math on how much you’ll have to pay in points or cash. Decker uses the Hyatt Regency Maui as an example.

“You can either pay about 7,000 more points per night to [book a room with] access to the Regency Club,” he says, or if paying with cash, “you can pay only 3,000 more points per night for access to the club.”

In return, you get benefits such as a full breakfast, snacks throughout the day and an evening cocktail hour complete with free alcoholic beverages, appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

“That could make a meal for the family to save some money since eating out is outrageously expensive,” says Decker. Just be sure that it’s worth what you’re paying in points or cash to get club benefits.

What’s up next?

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Published: October 22, 2018

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