The perfect hotel breakfast? Safe but surprising

It was all going smoothly until we got to the sausage. The fry-up was a model of its art: toast nicely browned, eggs perfectly cooked, hash browns boasting both a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior. One bite of the sausage, however, and the whole thing came crashing down. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the garlic-laden snag; it was just a tad too much too early in the morning, an unexpected assault on tastebuds that were still waking up. That single bite of sausage pushed the breakfast from a flying pass to a clear fail.

Ask any luxury hotelier and they will tell you that breakfast is one of their biggest challenges. Most travellers will agree on what constitutes a quality mattress, an impressive bathroom, or top-notch service. The perfect breakfast? That's a lot more difficult to define.

At one level, breakfast is all about familiarity. Our day is just starting, and we want to stick with the familiar. You want your coffee the way you always have it, the toast done just so. However, when you are paying luxury hotel rates, you also want something a little special. In an era when every corner cafe serves up smashed avo on toast, hotels around the world are finding it is harder than before to impress their guests with the morning meal.

One hotel doing it right is the St Regis in Bangkok, which offers an interesting twist on that other Aussie brekkie staple, Vegemite toast. Vegemite is the secret ingredient in the hotel's breakfast pizza, just one of a range of intriguing breakfast options that also includes Thai fried eggs with minced pork and a lobster thermidor omelette.

Australian hotels are also giving it a go. Jackalope on the Mornington Peninsula offers its guests a feast of global flavours, from Mexican huevos rancheros to soba noodles with cured trout, from an Indian breakfast thali to black coconut rice with mango sorbet.

One of the most creative approaches I've seen is taken by LUX South Ari Atoll in the Maldives, which has not one but two breakfast venues. Mixe offers a generous but conventional buffet spread; for those ready for a little adventure, the overwater East Market restaurant has been cleverly designed as a series of hawker stalls. Naturally there is plenty of Asian food, from noodle dishes cooked to order to steamers full of dumplings, but diners can also enjoy more traditional choices, from omelettes to bread rolls and fresh fruit. Safe but surprising: it's the perfect way to start the day.