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Friday, 21 June 2013

Breakfast at Holiday Inn's

Words & Photography by Felicity Spector

I’ve got an open mind. I do a lot of food judging. So when I was invited to try out the Holiday Inn’s new “award winning” breakfast menu, I decided to embrace the opportunity. In fact, they were keen to throw in an overnight stay so I could enjoy the full experience. And so I finished dinner, packed a small overnight bag and set off on the 38 bus towards Green Park and the flagship Mayfair branch.

Even at 11.30pm, the reception staff were warm and friendly: it wasn’t busy, they told me, so I could have an upgrade to a “King Executive” room. Despite the slightly creaky floors and swirly carpet décor, the room was huge, and spotless, with a brilliant view overlooking the Ritz.

There was an intriguing pillow menu, and a free bar of Kit Kat Chunky, in case I got peckish, although if you want to use the hotel wi-fi, there’s a £16 connection charge.

But it was the breakfast I’d come for, and as part of my exhaustive research I’d even watched a video about it on the Holiday Inn website, complete with sceptical young child who is eventually won over by the special pancake making machine: “NOW I’m impressed.”

Ben, the restaurant manager, was immediately welcoming, offering to take me on a tour of the breakfast offerings. There was the usual hotel fare: bowls of cut up melon and grapefruit, a basket of croissants and bread rolls, various boxes of cereal and some dishes of bacon, sausage, and scrambled egg sitting rather wanly on a hotplate. Your best bet for hot food would be the omelettes and poached eggs, which are made freshly to order. I tried some melon, which was fine - although it would be nice to see some more seasonal fruit. I liked the mini pain aux raisins, though, which was buttery and fresh.

However the real buzz was on the other side of the buffet table. There was a small queue of children forming at the pancake machine, so naturally I joined them, pressing a button on the side of the contraption while it whirred away. Eventually a couple of scotch pancakes sort of popped out of the end and onto a waiting plate, where you could douse them in golden syrup or chocolate sauce depending on the level of sugar rush you were after. They were perhaps a little sweet for my taste, but the children in the room seemed to be enjoying the whole experience, which presumably kept their parents happy too.

The service at breakfast, like the rest of the hotel, was excellent, and I was offered as many cups of Starbucks coffee as I wanted - even a takeaway cup for my journey to work.

I was still curious, though, so I called the trade association Midas which bestowed the best breakfast award, and asked them what made the Holiday Inn stand out. They conjured up an image of legions of secret diners, sampling hotel breakfasts across the land, heaping praise on the menu range and innovation. The pancake machine, it seems, is what won it: anything which impresses a sceptical seven year old, must be worthy of an award.


  1. 16 quid for wi-fi? Bloody hell, does that come with a jar of lube ?

  2. Golden syrup or chocolate sauce? No maple? Compote?

  3. I want one of this pancake machine ;)


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