POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 20, 2013
Question: We recently went to England and stayed at a number of B&Bs that offered “full English” breakfasts included with the price of the room. The owners were all good cooks, but we are not big breakfast eaters in general and really would have preferred something much simpler. A few times we asked for just cereal or toast and tea, and the innkeepers seemed almost disappointed in us. Is it rude to do that? To me it seems preferable to asking the cook to make a whole plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc., and then barely eating any of it.
And, a few times, the person who checked us in asked us what time we wanted to eat the next morning. We weren’t prepared for that, really, especially the day after we arrived — we had no idea whether jet lag might make us sleep late. Is this typical? I’m thinking perhaps we’re just not B&B people.
Answer: I don’t think it’s rude to ask for a simpler breakfast. I’m entirely with you on not making the cook go to a lot of trouble to prepare something you have no intention of eating. But I would make it clear that you don’t think there’s anything wrong with the big breakfast — just blame it on something else. You could say, for example, “The full breakfast looks lovely, but we’re trying to make an 8:35 a.m. train, so we don’t think we’ll be able to enjoy it today. Could we please just have some toast instead?”
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the innkeepers asking you what time you want to eat breakfast. After all, they might have a small kitchen and a lot of guests, and if everyone piles into the breakfast room at 8 a.m., it’s not going to be much fun.
But I also think they have to give you a little leeway, especially on your first night. You could say, “Could we eat sometime between 8 and 9 a.m.? We’re jet-lagged and just aren’t sure what time we’ll be up and about tomorrow morning.”
You could also offer to call the front desk the next morning and let them know what time you expect to be down for breakfast (bearing in mind that they’ll appreciate as much notice as you can give them).
Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.