Having been contestants on the ever popular TV show Four in a Bed whilst still at our last hotel in North Wales, I have to confess we never miss an episode. It’s an ideal opportunity to see inside other people’s accommodation businesses and how they run them. You get to see what they put on their tea trays, what they serve for breakfast and what little extras they offer. Which other businesses have this kind of access to other similar businesses on a daily basis?
However, a weekly moan for us (it takes us about an hour to watch a 25 minute programme because we have to keep pausing it to discuss things we do and don’t like - imagine Gogglebox without the cameras!) is breakfast.
Let’s set to one side the baked beans that although they are served in a little dish, have been slopped up the side, or the bacon that has barely seen a grill. Let’s also overlook the complete lack of choice or buffet, and the cheap carton orange juice. What I want to complain about is the pre-order breakfast.
Why oh why would any B&B do this? And even more so, why would any guest be happy with it?
Firstly, from a guest perspective, when am I going to order? I may be worried about forgetting to do it when I come back from dinner, so decide to complete the form beforehand. At this stage I’m probably quite hungry, having not eaten since lunch (unless you’re staying here as you’d have enjoyed my famous chocolate brownies on arrival and another homemade item in your room, not to mention the complimentary goodies in the minibar if you booked direct and The 25 chocolates on the tea tray). If you’re hungry, then you’re likely to over order thinking you’ll be starving in the morning and ready for a feast.
On the other hand, you could wait until you get back from dinner. At this stage you have the opposite problem, having just eaten a three course meal at a local restaurant, you’re completely stuffed and the last thing you want to do is think about breakfast. You order something light, hoping you can fit anything in by morning.
So there’s your first problem, no time is a good time to pre-order your breakfast. Your second problem is that you’ve more than likely changed your mind by the morning, having woken up fancying something different to what you ordered.
In practice I’ve found that a pre-ordered breakfast is rarely worth waiting for even if you still want what you ordered. We went to a rather nice B&B where a pre-order was required. I ordered the full breakfast (I seem to remember there was very little choice). It seems it meant the host knew exactly how many rashers of bacon to cook, and therefore chose to cook them all at once so they were ready for those in the first time slot. Having chosen a later breakfast slot, it seems my very dry bacon had been cooked over an hour before!
Some B&B owners on Four in a Bed site food waste as their motivation for a pre-order. Whilst I agree with this “greener” way of working to reduce your food waste, as a small B&B, I’m not sure how much you end up wasting. The only items we would take a guess at how many we need and cook off beforehand as they take longer to cook are sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes.
Sometimes we guess too low and halfway through breakfast we’ll pop another couple on to cook. Other times we’re spot on. If we guess wrong, then we have a sausage and mushroom casserole around once a week with the leftovers. Or perhaps a cold sausage with lunch or a sausage sandwich. Tomatoes and even baked beans can make it into a Bolognese or a soup. Everything else can be cooked live.
Another excuse given is that it saves wait time for the guest. Here at The 25, it generally takes ten minutes from order to service. If we chose to cook everything from scratch at the point of order then it would take longer. We choose to cook sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes slowly but there are quicker methods available, and I see no reason why it couldn’t be done in 20 minutes. With a decent buffet, hot drink, some toast whilst waiting and a bit of a chat, 20 minutes would fly by.
Most of the breakfast ingredients can’t be pre-cooked until the guest comes down anyway like eggs, toast, hash browns and ideally bacon, so I fail to see how much time you’re really saving. I just think inexperienced cooks are falling back on it so they panic less.
Personally, I’d always steer away from staying somewhere with a pre-ordered breakfast and I can’t see any benefit for the guest, only the owner. Surely it should be the guest who comes first from a customer service point of view? And don’t get me started on making your own toast or drinks in the dining room! I’m on holiday so the last thing I want is to be fending for myself.
So, if you want a fabulous, freshly cooked breakfast, plenty of hot tea and coffee, and a huge array of buffet items (many homemade) then why not come and stay at The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay?
Book a room at the best price on our own website at www.the25.uk