Breakfast, Wi-Fi, or a Room Upgrade? Learn the Hotel Perk Travelers Desire Most

A free breakfast is far and away the most coveted hotel perk. But does it offer the most value?
Last updated April 3, 2023 | By Kat Tretina
hotel breakfast

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When you’re traveling, it’s important to choose your hotel wisely. Not only does that ensure a comfortable place to sleep, but where you stay can also give you free perks that can add value to your stay.

FinanceBuzz recently conducted a poll of 600 people and found that travelers of all ages appreciate a free breakfast more than other benefits like room upgrades or complimentary Wi-Fi.

hotel perks poll

After a free breakfast, favorite perks differed by age. Travelers under the age of 35 preferred free Wi-Fi, while travelers over 35 opted for a room upgrade.

While a free breakfast is the most desired perk, does it really offer the most value? Find out below how much each benefit is worth.

What perk offers the most value?

For each perk, we looked at six hotels in major metropolitan areas across the country to find out how much it's typically worth.* The results were surprising: the free breakfast is worth the most, while room upgrades had the lowest value.

costs of hotel perks

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly common, but some hotels still charge for internet access. Even with hotels that offer free Wi-Fi, there’s often an additional charge if you need faster service.

We looked at a number of hotels across the country to find that Wi-Fi usually costs between $10 and $20 a day. The average cost of Wi-Fi across the six hotels we looked at was $16.30.

  • The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada: $19.95 per day
  • Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida: $14.95 per day
  • W New York in Times Square, New York: $14.95 per day
  • Boston Park Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts: $20 per day
  • Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas: $14.99 per day
  • Kimpton Alexis Hotel in Seattle, Washington: $12.99 per night

Complimentary Breakfast

Many hotels offer free breakfasts for guests or offer packages where you can add breakfast to your hotel stay for an additional fee.

The quality of the breakfast varies widely from hotel to hotel. Some offer just cold cereal and donuts, while others have elaborate spreads with fresh fruit and meats. In general, hotel breakfasts are worth $13 to $43 in value. The average value of a free breakfast was $26.50.

  • JW Marriott in Las Vegas, Nevada: $124 a night, Breakfast for two, $144 — $20 value
  • Crowne Plaza JFK Airport in New York, New York: $199, Breakfast for two $219 — $20 value
  • Philadelphia 201 Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $143, breakfast for two $171 — $28 value
  • Boston Park Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts: $96, breakfast for two $139 — $43 value
  • San Francisco Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, California: $169, $204 breakfast for two — $35 value
  • Hyatt Place Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, Florida: $119, breakfast for two $132 — $13 value

Room upgrades

Getting a room upgrade can make you feel like a VIP. Plus, you’ll get a better view or more luxurious accommodations.

Surprisingly, room upgrades generally offer the least value in terms of perks. The upgrades listed were for slightly better rooms, not an entirely different class of room like a suite. As such, we found room upgrades are worth $7 to $25 in value, depending on your location and the hotel. The average value of a room upgrade between the six hotels is just $11.16.

  • JW Marriott in Las Vegas, Nevada: $124 for king bed; $129 for king bed with balcony-$5 value
  • Crowne Plaza JFK Airport in New York, New York: $199 for standard room; $224 for deluxe room — $25 value
  • Club Quarters Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: $144 for standard room; $159 for superior room — $15 value
  • Boston Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts: $157 for standard room; $164 for deluxe room — $7 value
  • Hampton Inn San Francisco in San Francisco, California: $149 for standard room; $159 for room with city view — $10 value
  • Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida: $149 for standard room; $154 for room with pool view — $5 value

How to get a free breakfast at hotels

Since the free breakfast offers the most value, you can save money by looking for hotels that offer complimentary morning meals. To score a free breakfast during your next stay, use these tips.

1. Stay at select chains

Several hotel chains offer free breakfasts to all guests, including La Quinta, Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites, Best Western, Wyndham, Springhill Suites, Residence Inns, and Fairfield Inn & Suites.

2. Enroll in a loyalty program

Some hotel chains offer free breakfasts to loyalty club members. For example, Hilton Honors Gold status members qualify for breakfast for two at select hotels — signing up for the Hilton Surpass card can help you achieve Gold status faster.

3. Sign up for a hotel-branded credit card

If you sign up for a hotel-branded credit card, you can start earning points to use for room stays and amenities. Some hotel credit cards give you member status in the hotel’s loyalty programs, providing you access to additional benefits like free Wi-Fi and breakfast.

For example, the World of Hyatt Credit Card gives you automatic Discoverist status. As a status member, you get perks like complimentary breakfast at Hyatt Place hotels and expedited check-in.

4. Apply for a travel rewards credit card

Sign up for a travel rewards card and you could qualify for valuable benefits. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which offers complimentary breakfast for two, room upgrades, and late checkout when available.

Bottom line

As our poll found, a complimentary breakfast is a hotly-desired hotel perk. Offering the most value out of three common benefits, opting for the free breakfast can help you save money. By staying at select hotel chains, signing up for loyalty programs, and applying for some of the best travel credit cards, you can enjoy a tasty breakfast on the house.

* Rates accurate as of May 9, 2019.

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Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a personal finance writer and certified financial counselor based in Orlando, Florida. Dedicated to helping people build a solid financial foundation, she's written about insurance products — including life insurance, pet insurance, and car insurance — for major publications. Her work has been published by, Business Insider, Forbes Advisor, and more.