Every Hotel Breakfast I Ate On My Cross-Country Road Trip, Ranked

As y’all may or may not know, when a planned post by a freelancer doesn’t come through, it falls on us, the Senior Editors, to find a substitute post. This is particularly challenging when the post in question is a Saturday Morning Cartoon, because none of us are comic artists! (Except the last time this happened, when Heather, a true renaissance woman, drew a damn comic.)

When that happened this week, I jokingly suggested that I could do an illustrated ranking of every hotel breakfast I consumed on my recent 10-day road trip from Detroit to Los Angeles (accompanied by my gal pal Sarah) (she drove the whole way, what a gal pal!), and well, my friends, here we are. There’s only one problem! I can’t draw! Luckily with a little help from Shutterstock and a little bit of apparently untapped talent left over from my maiden days of MacPaint, I threw together a real artistic masterpiece for you.

8. Grand Stay Hotel and Suites – Mount Horeb, WI

I didn’t draw this I made a friend draw it for me because searching “inside-out orange” on shutterstock didn’t turn out well

We were possibly the Grand Stay’s only tenants on this particular fine Wisconsin morning for some reason, or maybe a few reasons I can think of. This breakfast was both a challenge and a low-key act of emotional violence. Sarah consumed half a a hard-boiled egg with an unhappy facial expression. I struggled to peel an orange with my hands and then a plastic knife, eventually resorting to trying to flip the orange inside-out in order to scrape orange pulp from the inside of the half-peeled orange with my own grubby fingers, then submerging them in sub-par yogurt. Ambiance was vaguely of the “everybody is dead and gone” variety.

7. Delano Hotel at The Mandalay Bay – Las Vegas, NV

I’d like to give ten thousand stars to the Breakfast Buffet at The Wynn, which’s where we actually had breakfast. But before breakfast we were committed to the delusion that we’d finish the puzzle we’d started of Mount Zion the night before, and thus required coffee for those few early morning hours, and I’ll be damned if this hotel wasn’t trying to charge us $5 for a cup of coffee! I know this ’cause the cup was wrapped in high-pressure plastic that I chipped a nail trying to open and it said “$5.00” all over it, probably in response to complaints from customers who couldn’t fathom that any institution would charge more than the tire shop or the bank for coffee (coffee is free at the tire shop and the bank). If only I’d read the 79 TripAdvisor reviews lamenting this very fact, I could’ve come prepared with my own Keurig cups (???!).

6. The Rushmore Inn – Rapid City, SD

This hotel was a bit of a mixed bag, specifically the type of mixed bag that doesn’t include free breakfast. When we asked about the breakfast situation, we were directed to their off-season lounge. What we found there was a slender menu, like the kind you might find in a sad empty airport terminal restaurant called “Wings” at 6am between your first cheap flight leg and your second cheap flight leg when you are considering your life and your choices and if you smell okay. We glanced at this sad menu and chose a better life for ourselves by leaving the establishment and hitting up the local Einstein Bagels, along with literally every other resident of South Dakota. We waited in line with our crossword puzzles like we were having brunch in Portland and left with two perfectly fine bagel/egg situations.

5. The Anniversary Inn – Salt Lake City, UT

It pains me to low-rank the free breakfast we received at this romantic hotspot, a charming establishment staffed by eager beavers and frequented by a steady rush of Mormon couples looking to spice up their marriage by copulating in carefully designed theme rooms ranging from fun (“Biker Roadhouse”) to bizarre (“Phantom of the Opera”) to problematic (“Sultan’s Palace”). Truly, the hotel itself did nothing wrong. We’d rested our weary heads and tentatively enjoyed a jacuzzi in the Moonlight Sonata suite, apparently designed for Twilight fans who want to play hide the salami upon an Edward & Bella pillow, adjacent to a mural of Forks, which is apparently the hometown of Bella Swan. Listen; Sarah loves vampires. We were nervous about being a lesbian couple in a hotel recommended enthusiastically by Mormon marriage counselors, but they were extra gay-friendly and really sweet!

Anyhow, this breakfast had two primary problems:

1. The night prior, the frisky couple ahead of us secured the hotel’s sole copy of the first Twilight film before we approached the catalog, leaving us with only Bonus Features DVDs and Twilight Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2, which I’ve obviously never seen. Sarah insisted that TBD1 was a terrible film and we should abandon the Twilight-watching plan altogether but I insisted upon a full thematic experience. Now I can never UNsee the emaciated Kristen Stewart impregnated with a tiny Robert Pattison who wants to break her bones from the inside out! It was all I could think about for hours. For days, even! I’m still thinking about it!

2. Our yogurt parfaits had a promising palor, but alas, we didn’t get any silverware. We would’ve pursued silverware acquisition after our romantic waterfall shower but we were meeting Sarah’s friends for brunch in town so it was nbd.

In conclusion, because we only requested two parfaits and not the full free breakfast, who am I to judge. Basically I’m reviewing Twilight Breaking Dawn right now, in which everybody eats each other instead of food.

4. The ClubHouse Hotel & Suites – Sioux Falls, SD

This well-stocked breakfast buffet of hot and cold items offered copious opportunities for all manner of morning consumption, although when I said, just now, “that breakfast was pretty good, right?” to Sarah, she made a face. More importantly: unfortunately we realized during this meal, as we did many times throughout our trip, that the world was not a real world but instead a parallel universe full of props and character actors hired for our personal amusement or lack thereof. A nearly identical succession of families joined us in the dining area — all consisting of a weary patriarch in vaguely winter-sporty attire, a bedraggled and exhausted mother in leggings, and no less than three, but as many as five, small interchangable blonde children. Every family also possessed one (1) infant in a stroller. They were all variations on a theme, like stock photographs with different colored hair except with the same-colored hair. I wasn’t annoyed by them, just troubled that we were in the upside-down. “This is The Bad Place,” Sarah theorized.

3. The Four Seasons – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

As the only restaurant serving Thanksgiving dinner in Jackson Hole — nay, the only restaurant serving dinner at all on November 23rd — on the day we planned to arrive there, we had no choice but to use all of Sarah’s credit card points to book a room at the Four Seasons, where every employee is wholly dedicated to meeting your every need and making you feel like the Wealthy Queen you are. Apparently at a certain level of Wealth, the various prices of assorted items become irrelevant. We filled out our breakfast-in-bed order door-hanger with naiveté and youthful enthusiasm, despite its lack of declared prices. It was pretty good but it loses points for costing ten million dollars. On our second morning we enjoyed our free Nespresso with chilled cream (take note, Delano), and had a reliably mediocre breakfast at Perkins in Idaho Falls.

2. The Inn on the Cliff – St. George, Utah

At The Inn on The Cliff, you simply call “0” and your very own personal Mormon will arrive at the door to your minimalist room on the cliff bearing a tray laden with two sets of four free items: a petite glass of orange juice, a hard boiled egg on a tiny stand like in a children’s book, a yogurt parfait, and a cinnamon cloud from heaven or wherever we go after we die! The night prior we’d lost power for two terrifying mortal hours, and the bed (world’s most comfortable) and this delivery offered much needed respite. The cinnamon rolls tasted like clouds, that’s why I said they were cinnamon clouds. The bed also felt like clouds! It’s probably because we were in the mountains, which are close to the clouds, and also to G-d.

1. The Charmant Hotel & Suites – LaCrosse, Wisconsin

Wow! This hotel was a real charmer! Look at that berry cup I drew like Van Gogh! How often can you get a berry cup delivered to your very own bed for $5 in this cold world? I’ll tell you when: not often, but definitely at the Charmant. As discussed extensively by me elsewhere on this website, there’s a worldwide epidemic of self-described “fruit cups” being entirely melon and cantaloupe. Sure those fruits are fine and good, but just call it a “melon cup,” you know? Anyhow, this hotel was our favorite of the trip, and I highly recommend it to all lacrosse fans out there, which is probably a lot of you, because lesbians love lacrosse. That’s a fact!!!!!!!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3177 articles for us.


  1. Now you know why the South is covered in Waffle Houses. Cheap, good food at ANY hour of the day or night.

  2. As long as your hotel breakfast wasn’t interrupted by some asshat selling “notions” I think you came out ahead!

  3. I had an amazing breakfast at the Westin Poinsett in Greenville SC. Grilled asparagus, greens, poached eggs, and fruit. The beds were amazing too. We were on a “let’s visit our childhood” trip through SC.

  4. I highly encourage everyone who reads this to go to the Anniversary Inn website and look at those rooms. I… wow. Truly an adventure.

  5. As largely unfamiliar as I remain with the concept of eating prior to at least early afternoon, this proved to be a complete hoot. ^_^

    I hereby request similar reviews in other countries. (I was smitten by the variety on offer at the Equatorial in Kuala Lumpur, with a diverse buffet spread reflective of the nation: think English roots with plenty of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences =:)

  6. Riese! I love this article because
    a) I’m an actor on a national tour of a children’s musical, so I stay in a different hotel every night, basically. My body has begun to REJECT hotel breakfast (literally if I never see a plate of eggs that has obviously come from powder it will be too soon), so this hit very close to home (er, hotel) for me
    b) I went to college in La Crosse, and The Charmant is AWESOME! I’ve never had breakfast there, but their brunch and burgers are bomb AND they have an awesome rooftop bar. It is one of my favourite places in La Crosse and I would love if more queer ladies went there based on this recommendation (I had a grand total of three (3) dates in my entire time in college because La Crosse is a wlw wasteland, apparently).

    • a) what amazes me every time is how depressed the english muffins always are! it’s not hard to buy a quality english muffin. yet these english muffins, which i always toast in the 10-slot toaster for at least two endless rounds, barely seem interested in the peanut butter i attempt to slather them in.
      julia nunes told me once that hyatt place was her favorite hotel breakfast when she was touring and i have to say i agree wholeheartedly.

      b) yes it was so great! we ate at the restaurant there the night we got in and it was our favorite meal of the trip (and we had some really good meals!)

  7. I am only here to say THANK YOU for calling out “fruit” aka MELON CUPS for the IMPOSTERS THEY ARE.

    • oh and also for Mandy’s suggestion above to look at the rooms at the Anniversary Inn… dear Lord. My eyes. All I can think of is couples using the Bridal Veils suite to roleplay Adam and Eve……….. *vom in mouth*

      • For what it’s worth, Bridal Veil Falls is a popular waterfall you can hike to in Provo, so I think it’s more of a general Utah outdoors thing- but at the same time it wouldn’t surprise me if they were doing exactly what you said so…. Straight people still aren’t ok.

  8. This is giving me serious pangs of longing to re-do my six month tour of the sad motels of America, which wasn’t actually the purpose of my trip but I feel like maybe it was the hidden message?

    Anyway, I quickly realised the best tool in this situation is a kettle (not always straightforward to find in your godforsaken country) and a range of foods that can be brought to life with the magic of hot water, allowing you the illusion of both choice and control.

  9. I too will be driving across the country to move very soon (Louisiana! Texas! Southern New Mexico!) and appreciate your inspirational illustrated travelogue.

    • Southern New Mexico! Stop at McGinn’s in Tularosa for pistachios. :-D Or at least hop off I-10 to see White Sands just over the mountains from Las Cruces.

    • ooo! you should read taylor & kip’s travelogue from when they moved out west and i think took a similar route:


      my girlfriend went to tulane and lives in southern california so she’d done that drive a million times, and i’d done the mid-country drive on my way out to michigan two years ago, so we picked a route neither of us had done before. it’s always weird to travel as a lesbian couple through super-red states (my gf is moc so we can’t really pass as straight), but we had a really good time! i hope you have a nice time too

    • i ate some of the berries from the top that i could get with my fingers. i am afraid they probably met the same fate as the free slices of cheesecake they left in our mini-fridge (because cheesecake = romance) that we didn’t eat

  10. “We glanced at this sad menu and chose a better life for ourselves.”

    Frankly, I’m inspired.

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