Will Buffets Be A Thing Of The Past

dessert buffet hotel achenkirch

Did a lavish morning buffet in a hotel’s dining room or the prospect of croissants and a pot of hot coffee being enjoyed in the privacy of your hotel room ever entice you out of bed early? Once hotels around the world reopen, health concerns may change how food and beverages are served to guests.

Are you the type of traveler who loves having breakfast in bed? Do you wait for the knock on your door, the waiter rolling in a cart and arranging tiny jars of honey and jam next to a basket of warm croissants, juice and a pot of hot coffee to enjoy while dressed in a fluffy bathrobe in the privacy of your hotel room?

Perhaps the hotel’s outstanding breakfast or brunch buffet might entice you to leave the comfort of your bed, get dressed and head down to their dining room for your morning breakfast.

breakfast for two
A Breakfast Table Set For Two At Traube Tonbach In The Black Forest Of Germany

When my husband and I travel to Austria or Germany, we usually stay at wellness (spa) resorts in small towns in rural parts of the country. The price for the room is per person and includes not only wonderful amenities but full board. That means it includes a nutritious breakfast buffet, an afternoon snack buffet as well as an evening multi course dinner served from their daily changing menu. The first course is often chosen from a beautiful appetizer buffet and at the end of the meal, there is usually a cheese and dessert buffet as well.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slide show.

If you think a wellness hotel serves bland “health food”, you would be wrong. Eating right and enjoying good food is one of their main focuses as they believe pampering brings balance and inner peace to their guests.

lunch at restaurant Bareiss
Lunch At Three Star Michelin Restaurant Bareiss Locaterd In The Black Forest

Our favorite resorts in the Austrian Tyrol, the German Black Forest and the Bavarian Alps are not only surrounded by beautiful scenery where outdoor activities are encouraged but their food is excellent. Their well known restaurants are some of the top rated in their country, some with Michelin stars. Obtaining a reservation is highly sought after by guests as well as locals from the surrounding areas and may take months to get.

Each chef uses ingredients that are incredibly fresh, with local meat and dairy products often coming directly from their own nearby farms for every dish they prepare. Each of these fine resorts guarantees that not only will you get a good night’s sleep but you will start out the next morning with a wonderful breakfast buffet that is a big part of the whole experience.

breakfast buffet at hotel bareiss
Lavish Breakfast Buffet At Hotel Bareiss

The selections that are offered, with many regional specialties, seems to be the reason breakfast is my husband’s favorite meal of the day when traveling. Whether it’s a luxury five star hotel or a smaller hotel in a rural area, you will typically find a selection of crisp wholegrain rolls and bread, fresh honey and locally made jams, a large selection of local cheeses, free range eggs cooked to order, ham and cured meats, smoked salmon, marinated vegetables and salads as well as fruit, yogurt, cereal, muesli, and nuts.

There is a number of regional dishes that you often feel compelled to try at least once and the delicious breakfast usually tides you over until dinner later in the evening. That is unless you want to try a slice of delicious cake from the hotel’s selection of freshly baked cakes and pastries from the decadent afternoon snack buffet.

Once countries open their borders to travel and let hotels start receiving guests again, many changes will probably be made and I wonder what the new “normal” will look like. Will traditional buffets of all kinds have to evolve into something different or will they become a thing of the past? I wonder if guests will identify their selections to servers behind plexiglas shields who will then dish it onto your plate, cafeteria style. Might servers bring a selection of dishes to your table for you to make your selection. Perhaps there will be separate stations where servers personally hand guests small, individually plated foods as each guest passes by. 

Hopefully in the months to come covid cases will diminish as vaccinations increase, borders around the globe will reopen and countries will once again welcome travelers. However, travel may never return to what we once knew as new health and safety standards and protocols are put into place. As hotels are allowed to reopen, it will be interesting to see the creative ways they deal with new health regulations and still ensure that guests have a memorable stay.

breakfast at bareiss
Breakfast At Hotel Bareiss

Instead of popular buffets, hotel meals might only be available from an à la carte menu and served by waiters in gloves and masks. What will become of the personalized room service that so many of us enjoy? Instead of a server rolling in a linen topped table laid out with silverware and a dome covered breakfast plate, will your coffee arrive in a to-go cup along with prepackaged snack packs like granola bars and left outside your hotel room door?

Getting on a plane again for long distance travel is going to be a challenge..perhaps it will happen in 2022. It will be interesting to see the changes that our favorite hotels and restaurants have made, that is if they have even survived at all. If those amazing breakfast buffets have to be eliminated, while I might miss picking out a beautiful seeded roll, cutting my own wedge of regional cheese and selecting a perfectly ripe fig for my morning meal, it won’t matter as I will be beyond happy just to be able to travel once more

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

38 thoughts on “Will Buffets Be A Thing Of The Past

  1. Those buffet pictures look incredible! I do hope we will return to some kind of normality – glass shields in restaurants takes all the fun out of dining.

  2. Buffets have always been a big part of my personal entertaining as there always seems to be a crowd with different tastes. I stay away from buffets when traveling as my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I always load my plate up with too much food 🙂

  3. Such enticing photos! About the only time I enjoy a buffet is for breakfast. I’m not a huge eater in the morning, so I just want a couple of thing — usually some fruit, maybe a couple of eggs or some cheese, and a roll. But a lot of people do like them, I know. I expect buffets will continue, but there will be changes — sneeze guards everywhere, no more serving yourself (someone will do that on the other side of the sneeze guard), maybe spaced out a bit more so there’s some chance of social distancing. We’ll see. We’ve canceled our trip for this year, and have two booked for 2022. Hope at least once makes it! Good post — thanks.

  4. Beautiful captures of scrumptious buffets Karen. We love buffets once in a way when we travel. Especially the breakfast one! But yes on another note, its worth pondering if these will be a luxury of the past or will one have to resort to perhaps only al fresco or maybe only room service. We are itching to ravel again…

  5. What wonderful buffets! I do hope they will continue post Covid, but they might be a little different. I think we all are going to be more careful about many things, and perhaps keep some of the last year’s habits, such as wearing a mask when we’re sick.

  6. Buffets as we knew them may be a thing of the past. It’s hard to say if enough people will be willing to trust the safety of eating at a buffet or will new traditions emerge. Time will tell!

  7. My husband and I were just talking about buffets the other day, not that we frequent them, but in talking about things that will be changing, we both both felt that buffets were a thing of the past. But who knows for sure. You obviously have been to some absolutely gorgeous buffets! Look at all that scrumptious food. So much more than I could even begin to enjoy. That’s probably why I have never enjoyed buffets, because I always feel cheated that I didn’t have a stomach large enough to try everything. 🙂

  8. One of the monthly events in SC was a Sunday morning buffet at a local golf course. I can’t say I see myself frequenting that unless there are servers handling the dishes. I was one of the few who used sanitizer after touching all those spoons so now I really wouldn’t want to do it. The idea of multiple food choices is always appealing, but we need safer approaches. I saw where a cruise ship was planning a trip for those who have been vaccinated or are under 16, and have tested negative. That will be interesting to watch. 🙂

  9. I have never been a fan of buffets. It will be interesting to see how things will happen over the next two years.

  10. Always enjoy buffets on cruise ships. But I think they are going to go cafeteria style…
    We already experienced a hotel that changed their whole morning breakfast buffet to cafeteria style. It did not need too much configuration but they had to hire a person to serve.
    Vaccination Travel Passports are being thought about… so it’s all going to be interesting. I’m ready for travel and I’m fully vaccinated! Let the living begin!

  11. The usual breakfast buffets and dinner buffets I’m used to in hotels and clubs are of the distinctly unhealthy variety.
    I no longer miss such things.
    I think COVID-19 has taught us that we can reset our approach to travel and accommodation.
    With so many people in countries like Australia and New Zealand experiencing far fewer milder respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, it demonstrates how staying away if you’re unwell, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and respiratory hygiene can make a huge difference. I’ve not had a head cold for more than fourteen months. Most years I have about four head colds of varying severity.
    This new way of living needs to become the norm so we can all live safely and protect the vulnerable members of our society who will continue to enjoy an abundant life.
    Sorry for the preaching, I’m feeling energised by what I hope will be a global reset in attitude to health and hygiene.

  12. Exactly. Let’s just hope we can travel. And we’ll put up with whatever changes will have been put in place. I hope you’re wrong about 2022. We have a major 2021 trip planned! I’m fine wearing a mask, but I wonder if a country like India or Botswana will be prepared for tourism. I guess we just have to wait and see.

  13. Food looks delicious and beautifully presented, Karen. It is fun to see lines of various food on the cruise. I, too, look forward to taking trips again.

  14. I love traveling virtually with you Karen, you always stay in THE most fabulous places with food to die for! I am sure things will change a bit in the future, but I have noticed salad bars and hot bars are back open in some of our grocery stores…I hope you get to travel soon!

  15. We have a beautiful spot in Detroit called the Whitney — an old, downtown mansion that is now a restaurant and they have the most glorious brunch buffet (or at least did pre-Covid — who knows now?). I said to Rick that when we went out to eat I’d love to go back there. And then I thought about it and no. I don’t think I ever want to go to a buffet again. It just feels too risky. But boy — every image here looks divine!

  16. Great article Karen. I so much enjoyed those lavish buffets in Germany, and my birthday tradition is to go to the Broadmoor Hotel in Co. Springs for Sunday Brunch. I do hope they can find a way to keep them. Such a lavish and pampering way to enjoy a morning meal.

  17. The food here looks wonderful! I’ve since tried two styles of buffets-one where they staff plate up everything but you still walk around and choose what you like and the other where you order the buffet from the table. I don’t mind either really!

  18. You make an excellent observation here, Karen. I have no idea what the ‘new normal’ will look like – but I will be sad if buffets are indeed a thing of the past. Buffet restaurants in America can largely go away, and I don’t think I would even notice. However, buffets as you describe at European hotels? That’s one of my favorite parts about traveling to Europe! If we go to granola bars and to-go cups of coffee, that would just be unfortunate. I for one will be crossing my fingers that we can figure out how to keep breakfast buffets alive and safe!

  19. Thank you Karen, for all these beautiful photographs that make me dream of holidays..
    I must say I stopped including breakfast buffets in my hotel reservations mainly because of the people. Some speak so loud, let their children run around and scream… while I’m not even half woken up! Also because they close at ridiculous hours (if it’s a business trip, it’s perfect, but when I’m on holidays I don’t want to be thrown out at 10am!).
    I hope breakfast buffets will still be available for those who enjoy them, but I’m afraid to think what else might become things of the past….
    I also dream of travelling! A long weekend would already make me happy!

  20. Your photos are mouth-watering. I hope we can get back to those lavish buffets some day but for now, I’d settle for any kind of indoor dining where someone brings me a meal and cleans up when I’d done.

  21. I never thought of that, but yes, buffets (and potlucks) really could be a thing of the past 😦 I love breakfast buffets too, Karen!

  22. Breakfast buffet all the way for me specially if its a cuisine that I dont usually have, having it in buffet you can try all sorts of things just by having a little bit of everything.

  23. Heck, Karen buffets have never gone away here. Mind you, I wouldn’t eat at one at least not now. I think they will return throughout Europe, but hopefully with better sanitation control. I personally think having servers dish up the dishes on the buffet would work.
    Great picture of you guys in the Black Forest…

  24. Drooling over your pictures… Last Easter we did takeout from the restaurant we usually go to for Easter buffet. It was a shadow of the prior experience and we don’t plan to do that this year.

    But my daughter got married last December and we are planning a celebration in August. She didn’t want to contract for a hall and catering and risk losing a lot of money so we are doing 60 people in our backyard (hopefully, weather permitting). We will need to do something that is more serve yourself so a challenge covid-wise. I just saw “individual charcuterie boards” in small squat canning jars (which I have a ton of) so I think that will be one way we adapt.

  25. I would imagine the entire traveling experience will be somewhat different. Buffets are a big draw for me, but as you pointed out, they won’t be the buffet of the past. That will be disappointing, but it’s a small price to pay. In the end, what really matters that we can travel and fly again without putting ourselves at risk.

  26. Ah the hotel buffet! My sons favourite part of staying in a hotel. There is nothing like a breakfast buffet, a little bit of this and a little bit more of that to set you up for a days adventures.

  27. Well, I am. ow feeling hungry Karen, Good thing I have just baked a cake! 😉 I do hope your favourite hotels and restaurants survive so you can visit them again one day! xx

  28. The food all looks delicious, Karen! We used to love breakfast buffets, until the boy in front of us sneezed a couple of times over the food, so never again. Buffets would be great now if they’d just install some sort of shield or partition between the people and food. And I’ve never really liked room service, would rather be out and about with the crowd in a restaurant. Wonder what it will be like when things get back to normal. Interesting post!

  29. Indeed, I too have thought long about how our travelling experiences will change, but I do look forward to travelling again. In general, I am not a fan of buffets but I’ve always loved a breakfast buffet particularly when there is a chef cooking omelettes on demand.

  30. Karen, I had a dream last night that people were no longer wearing masks (at the post office) and it seemed really strange. I hope that is an omen of more positive things to come! I can’t wait until they open up the borders to France again, but I agree with you- as long as I can travel again, that’s the important thing.

  31. I’ve wondered about this, Karen. I have considered that one of my favorite places to have a high tea also may never return to the way they cleverly combined a “sweet table” with the more traditional served tea. It was elaborate and a favorite place to bring guests who visit us. I don’t think we’re able to yet even take in all the permanent changes we’re to soon discover.

  32. These are all absolutely beautiful shots, Karen. But I have to be honest – I have almost never enjoyed a buffet. Even the best of them – the Top of the Mark, Hacienda del Sol here in Tucson, the Ritz Carlton in several places… I am not sure why. I dine out so infrequently; perhaps I am looking for the full dining experience? Also, with my garlic allergy, buffets can be a real problem as the chefs on hand rarely know what the prep chefs used for the dishes. They all take it very seriously, but it takes the joy out of it if I have to stand there and wait for someone to come back with any knowledge.

  33. For the most part, I think we’ll eventually go right back to all the things we loved when this is over. It’s the things that nobody loves – like commuting for work – that probably won’t come back in the same way. So, I see buffets in our future. However, if breakfast in bed could become part of everyday hotel fare, I’d love that! Thanks for sharing this post, and all the wonderful hotel information.

  34. Oh, We are with you! My husband and I can’t wait to start traveling to Europe again. It will be interesting to see how they will make these changes to accommodate the new rules and regulations- and I hope not too much…..
    The elegance of service, hospitality, and food with these hotels, such as your Hotel Bareiss, is what keeps guests coming back year after year.
    For years, my husband and I (just the two of us) always returned to Hotel IL San Pietro in Positano, Italy for those same reasons. Nowadays, we rent apartments when we travel to Europe, and stay for weeks at a time, simply because our kids are all grown up and want to travel with us and get in on the fun….. we have a big family, and everyone wants to be with us when we travel…. LOL…
    Great post Karen,
    and I love your recipes too!

  35. I’m not fan of eating in restaurants when I’m home, but when I travel, I love breakfast buffet specially in Asia and Middle-East…fresh seafood, delicious fruit, wonderful breads and tasty dishes….I just want to travel again!!….Beautiful post!…..Abrazotes, Marcela

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