How to make the most of the hotel breakfast buffet

There is both an art and a science to approaching the breakfast buffet in your hotel. It's not enough to just get your table, load a plate with fried eggs, dumplings, noodles, hash browns, croissants, waffles and flapjacks, and sit down again. Nor is it clever to head to the buffet 14 times in quick succession, in an effort to not miss a thing.

What is needed is a military strategy. Tactics. Think of it as Special Ops: Buffet. First do a complete reconnaissance of all the food on offer and work out its strengths and weaknesses. Is the bread pre-sliced and stale, or are there whole-grain loaves and baguettes ready to be sliced on the spot? Is there a tray of congealing fried eggs on a warmer, or is there a dedicated chef willing to make you an omelette or fry an egg to order?

Take into account the local terrain and conditions, and engage with the locals wherever possible. If in Asia, head straight to the congee, noodles, fried rice, dumplings or miso soup stations. If in the Middle East, consider breakfasting on flat bread, olives, cucumber, tomato, hummus and yoghurt. If in France, it is perfectly reasonable to start the day with an entire platter of magnificent aged cheeses and chocolate-stuffed pastries, like all those skinny French people around you.

Also, be aware of the situation changing around you. Act with agility on new and incoming information. When a hot food item is replenished, wait for that new batch to arrive, then pounce. The rules of engagement with tea and coffee are just as crucial. Is there an espresso machine? What stands for coffee in this culture? Tea drinkers, you will always be better off ordering a pot of tea rather than dunking a tea-bag in the jug of coffee-flavoured hot water that is poured at the table.

Generally speaking, you need to create order where there is none. Divide what is on offer into three courses, as you would, um, a meal. It could be yoghurt and fruit, then eggs with sausages, baked beans and toast, then a pastry or two. Three separate forays will mean you are not marked out as a greedy guts with a piled-high plate. It's easy to lose track of just how much you've eaten when faced with mountains of food. Look, I don't mind if you eat it all in order to get your money's worth, just don't waste it.

The final law in the battle of the buffet, is to know when you're defeated, and beat a retreat. That way, you can get up and fight again another day.

Comments