How Many Types Of Meal Plans Do Hotels Have? (All You Need To Know!)

To get the best experience out of our trip, the first thing we always do before traveling is book the best hotel we can afford. In fact, we won’t mind splurging on better hospitality if we know what we are paying for.

Most three- to five-star hotels are known to put their customers’ satisfaction before anything else. Hence, one of the ways to keep their customers coming back for another stay is through their food.

Hotels know that people love having delicious food served to their room only with one phone call. But for hotels with magnificent landscapes, their main attraction could be fine dining at their grand restaurant with a pool view or breakfast by the beach.

No matter what their specialities are, the first thing you should ask is how many types of meal plans do these hotels have?

There are four different types of meal plans that hotels can offer. Generally speaking, these meal plans are known as the American Plan (AP), Modified American Plan (MAP), Continental Plan (CP), and European Plan (EP).

woman having breakfast in bed at a hotel

So, what do these meal plans consist of? Before we get down to each category, let’s start with the most basic explanation of what a hotel meal plan really is.

What Is a Hotel Meal Plan?

A hotel meal plan can be described as a specific meal package planned by the hotel and added to the room’s rate.

People who travel less tend to overlook the meal plan before paying for their room. But frequent travelers compare the meal plan and look for the best deal, for the room and the food.

In most countries, you will find these four types of meal plans. Depending on your choice, each plan might offer a different meal that might or might not cater to your needs.

Below, we have listed the pros and cons of each meal plan so that you are well aware of what you can get during your stay.

American Plan (AP)

For the American Plan (AP), most hotels will offer you a nightly rate that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This three-major-meals plan is also known as the Full Board or the Full Pension Plan.

Generally, you will pay more for hotels or cruises that offer this plan, but it is worth it.

The American Plan is suitable for people who are on a honeymoon, a family with small kids, or if the hotel is located in a secluded area with fewer amenities. In fact, the American Plan is best for a vacation or a cruise where you don’t have many options to explore the local food offerings.

portion of american breakfast

Pros of Getting the American Plan:

  • With this meal plan, you have the flexibility to carry out your daily activities or follow your itinerary without worrying about where to get your next meal.
  • Most hotels or resorts will include drinks with the meal. However, if they don’t, you can often ask for drink coupons that allow you to buy drinks at a lower price. These include beverages such as coffee, tea, wine, juices, soda, and beer.
  • Estimating your cost or travel budget is a lot easier when you already know the cost of your meals during your whole stay.
  • You are served a variety of foods for breakfast. Top-rated hotels and cruises even serve a buffet-style breakfast that allows you to eat the best of what they can serve in the morning.

Cons of Getting the American Plan:

  • Some hotels or resorts will serve a table d’hote (fixed menu) that doesn’t cater to your taste. You can’t exchange the meal with another menu or get a refund for not eating the meal.
  • The quality of your food will also depend on the hotel and the chef in charge.
  • The quoted rate doesn’t always include what you will pay for children or small kids. Hence, you will have to make extra inquiries to know the total charges.
  • Because you are served a variety of food, you might feel like you’re wasting it if you can’t stomach too much food at once.
  • Following the meal schedule can be quite difficult if you can’t rearrange or postpone certain activities. So, you are bound to follow their fixed schedule.

Modified American Plan (MAP)

In other countries, especially European ones, the Modified American Plan (MAP) is known as the Half Board or Half Pension Plan.

In this plan, hotels or resorts will offer you a nightly rate that includes two meals. But you can also have a third meal if you choose their a la carte options. These two meals could either be breakfast and lunch or breakfast and dinner.

The Modified American Plan is suitable for traveling couples, families with small kids, or someone who has a packed schedule.

Through this plan, you have the flexibility to do your daily activities uninterrupted. All you have to do is wake up for breakfast and carry on with your day before coming back for dinner.

Hence, if you ask around, you will know that most travelers would prefer to have a breakfast-and-dinner package. This plan is your best option if you’re staying in a hotel with fewer local restaurants or places to eat.

breakfast setup in a swimming pool

Pros of Getting the Modified American Plan:

  • With this plan, you have the freedom to get your own lunch or dinner, provided that your hotel isn’t in a secluded town. You can explore local food and try out meals outside of the establishment.
  • The Modified American Plan is much cheaper than the usual American Plan. Generally, you will get high-quality cuisine without sacrificing your wallet. The hotels will do their best to serve you delicious food and offer great hospitality.
  • For travelers who are financially savvy, they can compare the rates of this plan to the cost of getting two or three meals outside of the establishment. This will make it easier for them to plan their budget correctly.

Cons of Getting the Modified American Plan:

  • This plan might not be suitable for travelers who love nightly activities in or outside of the establishment. More often than not, they end up skipping breakfast just to get enough sleep. If you’re one of those people who prefer intermittent fasting, this plan is also not your best option.
  • You don’t have the freedom to choose your favorite food. Most of the time, hotels or resorts with this plan have planned specific food they will serve their guests. They also won’t allow changing the meal or refunding for the meal you skipped.
  • Hotels will also set a specific time for each meal. Although you have the flexibility to not eat at a particular time, you might have to rush back just to eat the other two meals.

Continental Plan (CP)

The Continental Plan (known as CP) is a hotel plan that includes the rate of your nightly stay with a daily breakfast, which is also known as the continental breakfast. Other meals are excluded and must be paid for at their own rates.

Depending on the hotel or the establishment, they might offer a self-serving buffet breakfast at the dining hall or a room-service breakfast option. But most hotels will serve breakfast buffets with coffee, tea, juices, sandwiches, cereals, and other local food.

The Continental Plan is suitable for people staying for just a night or anyone with a tightly packed schedule during the day.

If you’re a foodie, this plan will also give you the flexibility to try any food outside the hotel without needing to return for lunch or dinner.

continental breakfast menu on wooden table

Pros of Getting the Continental Plan:

  • Compared to the previous two plans, this meal plan is much cheaper and budget-friendly. Money-conscious travelers can plan their spending without worrying about additional meal or service charges from the hotels.
  • You aren’t fixed to any schedule. In fact, if you don’t wake up for breakfast, you have the option to eat breakfast at your preferred restaurant or dining place.
  • Depending on the establishment, you can opt for breakfast in your room. This could save a lot of time and allow you to continue with your daily activities sooner.

Cons of Getting the Continental Plan:

  • You don’t have many options in choosing your favorite breakfast. Most likely, hotels have set their own fixed menu for breakfast. Depending on your appetite, the proportion of your food might be too little or too much.
  • Having breakfast in your room might be more expensive than dining in the designated area. So, be prepared with extra cash.
  • If you can’t skip breakfast, you have to be ready to wake up every morning so that you won’t miss breakfast time. There is also a no-refund policy if you can’t make it for breakfast.
  • This plan isn’t suitable for hotels in a secluded area without too many eateries or dining places outside the establishment.

European Plan (EP)

Of these four major plans, the European Plan (EP) can be considered the cheapest option.

This plan offers you a nightly rate for your room with no meals. The European Plan is also known as the Room Only plan. Any food, drinks, or snacks aren’t included and must be paid for separately. 

Most of the time, this plan is offered with other plans, including the American Plan, the Modified American Plan, and the Continental Plan to give options to the guests to choose which plan suits their traveling schedule.

The European Plan is suitable for people who are on a short trip or travelers with a busy schedule.

It is the most common plan in European countries such as Germany, England, and France.

close up of customer paying in hotel restaurant

Pros of Getting the European Plan:

  • You have the flexibility to choose your favorite meals. This plan is suitable for newlyweds or couples on a honeymoon. Unlike other plans, you aren’t restricted to the menu served by the establishment.
  • You can explore local eateries and enjoy food outside of the establishment without having to worry about getting back for lunch or dinner. If you’re a foodie, this plan would be your best option.
  • This is a plan that can help you save money while allowing you to travel to your chosen destination. Dining at the hotels might be more expensive than eating at the local diners or restaurants. Hence, people conscious of their spending can opt for the cheapest plan and explore other alternatives for food and drinks.

Cons of Getting the European Plan:

  • This plan isn’t suitable for establishments in secluded areas. You don’t have many options for food if there are not many eateries outside of the hotels.
  • You have to be disciplined with your time. This is because you have to take into account your meal time with your daily activities. If the hotel doesn’t serve anything outside their fixed schedule, you’ll have to do without that meal.
  • It is pretty hard to budget for food if you don’t know the price of the local food. Hence, you have to be ready with extra cash or thoroughly research the average cost of food outside of the hotel.

Additional Meal Plans

Aside from the four major plans, there are also additional plans that you may or may not get at your preferred hotels. For instance:

American Plan All-Inclusive Plan (APAI)

In this plan, the hotels will offer a rate for three meals, which are breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the price of the room and added taxes.

delicious desserts at buffer dinner

Club Access Meal Plan

For the Club Access Meal Plan, you are allowed to enter the VIPs or elite’s lounge. During your stay, the hotel will serve all meals, drinks, evening drinks, and complimentary snacks.

This plan is mostly free for particular hotel members, and the price is much higher than other standard plans.

Bermuda Meal Plan

The Bermuda Meal Plan is rarely offered at hotels. In this plan, you will be served an American breakfast.

various food and drink on dining table

Go Plan

The Go Plan is a plan used by a selection of hotels in the same hotel chain. So your itinerary will be the same plan for each of the hotels you visit.

Final Thoughts

No matter what meal plan you prefer, the quality of the food served depends on each hotel.

The most expensive plan doesn’t guarantee that you will get the food that suits your taste. Some hotels will provide a free flow of drinks, while others may give extra desserts or snacks.

So, be sure to ask the hotel beforehand to get the most bang for your buck!


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