Continental Breakfast vs Hot Breakfast: 6 Key Differences!

In hotels across the world, you’re entertained with either of the two common breakfast options—Continental, or Hot breakfast. 

For a guy who never regrets the sight of food, I’ll happily accept both. But then again, I’ve to know.

What’s the difference? Continental Breakfast vs Hot Breakfast.

Continental Breakfasts usually include pasties, bread, bagels, etc. served at cold temperatures. Hot Breakfasts on the other hand are served warm, like eggs, sausages, etc. The Continental breakfast has evolved into a breakfast buffet, whereas, the American breakfast a.k.a hot breakfast is prepared according to the individual order.

That pretty much sums up this discussion. But if you’re anything like me, then get ready to take notes. 

Continental Breakfast vs Hot Breakfast

Be it the old times, or the latest traveling Gen Z trends, hotel breakfasts have been constant for generations. Both hotel breakfast types have been a signature attraction for many hotels since the old 1800s.

The difference between continental breakfast and hot breakfast lies in the items that are served and how they’re served. Depending on several other factors, you will find different breakfasts in Comfort Inn compared to Quality Inn.

Let’s quickly check quickly how continental breakfast vs hot breakfast differ: 

ComparisonContinental BreakfastHot Breakfast
Breakfast ItemsBread, Pastries, Coffee/tea, Croissants, DonutsBacon, Eggs, Hash browns, coffee, toast, waffles, etc.
Serving StyleBuffet-styleOrder-first
Meal HeavinessLighterHeavier
Time6-10 a.m.7-9.30 a.m.
CostComplementary, Free (Mostly)Paid(Mostly)
PreparationEasy Preparation, Pre-made BreakfastCooked Breakfast

Continental Breakfast vs Hot Breakfast: Detailed Comparison

Okay, so now that we know how different the two breakfast options are. Let me help you understand them a little better. 

Breakfast Items

Continental breakfasts usually serve pre-made breakfast items. They are served mostly cold with coffee and tea. Most prefer to call Continental breakfasts ‘European breakfasts’ and that’s understandable. 


Originating in the mid-19th century in Britain, continental breakfast usually consists of breakfast items you’ll encounter in France or the Mediterranean. They call it the “continental” breakfast due to the style of breakfast enjoyed by the European continents. 

The light breakfasts make continental breakfasts a great option for on-the-go travelers. Continental breakfasts are slightly different than grab-and-go breakfasts.

In a typical continental breakfast, you’ll be welcomed with pastries, bread, croissants, donuts, muffins, bagels, cereal, waffles, and yogurt. As for drinks, you’ll get milk, tea, juice, and fresh coffee. 

Contrary to Continental breakfasts, hot breakfasts are usually served warm and avoid pre-made breakfast items. Due to having popular American breakfast items largely occupying their menu, many consider hot breakfast to be American breakfast. 

Hot breakfasts typically consist of bacon, fried eggs, hash browns, and pancakes. Notice that these breakfast items can’t be served cold and have to be made according to order. 

You also get to enjoy waffles with either butter or syrup. Similarly, they will let you pick either butter or jam/jellies with toast. 

Hot breakfasts are power meals packed with calories to get you through the morning!

Serving Style 

Now, this is where things get interesting. 

Due to the convenience of serving pre-made food, there’s no obligation of serving anything warm other than tea and coffee. So the Continental breakfasts mostly follow a breakfast buffet arrangement for the guests. 

The guests can walk around and pick up their breakfast items of choice. Nothing complicated. Exactly the way I like it!

Note that continental breakfasts might not come as they are advertised. Just don’t expect anything fancy in a continental breakfast!

Hot breakfasts don’t come in the breakfast buffet settings like continental breakfast. Due to the complication of serving warm breakfasts, hotels serving hot breakfasts tend to follow the ‘cook to order’ policy. This means they will take the order first before serving.


But this also means you get served hot food to your liking!


Most hotels start serving continental breakfast at 6 a.m. and they close down by 10 a.m.

Hotels start serving hot breakfasts around 6 a.m. on weekdays and they start around 7 a.m. on weekends. They usually close down around 9:30 a.m or later.

Keep these in mind to plan out the perfect breakfast buffet strategy


Continental breakfasts are usually free for guests. But it ultimately rests on the hotel and restaurant policy. Some restaurants might charge a fee for the continental breakfast, but most hotels will serve continental breakfast as a complimentary service. 

As continental breakfasts are On-the-go-breakfast in nature, most hotels don’t charge anything for it. 

Breakfast items like pastries, cereals, and bread can be offered in bulk, making them really inexpensive. Plus, you don’t need to purchase them daily, making continental breakfasts really cost-effective. 


Serving hot breakfast requires ordering first and a chef-cooked meal, which requires huge resources. That’s why no hotels offer hot breakfast as a complimentary meal to the guests. 

Be ready to spend a good amount of money on breakfast too as hot breakfasts don’t come cheap!


There’s nothing much needed when it comes to the preparation of continental breakfast. The hotel simply arranges the pre-made breakfast items before due time. The guests can pick their preferred breakfast item on a plate from the counter. 

As for hot breakfast, you’ll have to wait for the waiter with a menu. You’ll be served a warm meal instantly prepared by the chef.  It’s time-consuming, but a rewarding experience nonetheless. 

Our Verdict

I don’t know about you guys, but as a traveler on the go, my preference is always tilted toward the continental breakfast. It’s cheap, It’s fast. And mostly, it’s convenient. So personally, a continental breakfast is better than a hot breakfast for me. 

But that doesn’t take anything away from hot breakfasts. For more relaxed guests who love to enjoy a chef-curated breakfast to start their morning, a hot breakfast has no alternative.

Hot breakfasts are heavier, yet make up for a fulfilling meal. 

The final decision ultimately rests upon your preference and taste. Don’t let me tell you what you can eat!


Is American breakfast continental?

No, American breakfast is different than continental breakfast. American breakfast is also known as hot breakfast which usually includes hot items like sausages, eggs, etc.

Does Fairfield Inn have a complimentary breakfast?

Fairfield Inn in US/Canada offers complimentary breakfast to all guests. However, Fairfield Inn in Asia does not offer any free breakfasts to their guests. 

Does the Luxor Have Free Breakfast

Luxor offers free full breakfast to the guests. Not only that, you can also grant dry cleaning and free WiFi service in public areas at Luxor. 

Final Words

Well, that’s all about Continental Breakfast vs Hot Breakfast

Be sure to check the breakfast menu of a hotel before making a reservation. Or else you might miss out on your preferred breakfast!

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