Marriott Bonvoy's Complicated Elite Breakfast Benefit Explained (2023)

Breakfast is one of the perks of hotel elite status that people value most, though the policies differ significantly among the major hotel groups. Marriott is the largest hotel group in the world, though arguably the Marriott Bonvoy program’s elite breakfast benefit is the most complicated one out there. In this post I wanted to explain Marriott Bonvoy’s breakfast benefit as simply as possible, because there’s a lot to understand.

In this post:

Why Marriott Bonvoy’s breakfast benefit is complicated

Marriott Bonvoy arguably has the least consistent elite breakfast benefit of any major hotel group. While Marriott has around 30 different hotel brands, the group has over 50 different breakfast policies. That’s because sometimes policies differ depending on whether a property is in the United States or abroad, whether a property is categorized as a hotel or resort, whether a property has a club lounge or not, etc.

I don’t know why this has to be so complicated, but I suspect it’s a combination of the merger between Marriott and Starwood, plus corporate generally trying to please hotel owners. It seems like there are some harmonization opportunities, though…

Marriott Bonvoy's Complicated Elite Breakfast Benefit Explained (1)

What Marriott brands offer free elite breakfast?

To make this as simple as possible, I’ll put Marriott’s brands into one of four categories:

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  • Some hotel brands offer all guests complimentary breakfast, regardless of status
  • Some hotel brands don’t offer any guests complimentary breakfast on account of status
  • Some hotel brands offer complimentary breakfast as an elite status welcome amenity choice
  • Some hotel brands offer a food & beverage credit as an elite status welcome amenity choice, which can be applied toward breakfast, or another drink or meal

Before we get into this, a few more things to note:

  • The elite breakfast benefits are specific to Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members and above; Silver and Gold members don’t receive these perks, and conversely, Titanium and Ambassador members don’t get any incremental breakfast perks
  • Aside from the brands offering all guests free breakfast, there’s always an opportunity cost to getting breakfast, since you have to choose that as your welcome amenity in lieu of something else, like Bonvoy points
  • I’m intentionally trying to simplify this as much as possible, so am leaving out some fairly minor details that I think will only complicate things (trust me, I’m doing you a favor here)

With that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Marriott brands that offer all guests free breakfast

The following Marriott brands offer all guests complimentary breakfast:

  • Element
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites
  • Residence Inn
  • SpringHill Suites
  • TownePlace Suites

As you can see, there are no incremental breakfast perks at these properties for elite members, since everyone gets breakfast. Platinum members and above can still select a welcome amenity (typically points), but that’s unrelated to breakfast.

Marriott Bonvoy's Complicated Elite Breakfast Benefit Explained (2)

Marriott brands that don’t offer free elite breakfast

The following Marriott brands don’t offer elite members complimentary breakfast:

  • Design Hotels
  • Marriott Grand Residence Club
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Ritz-Carlton

It’s really a shame that some of Marriott’s highest-end brands choose not to offer elite members breakfast. If you do want to receive complimentary breakfast at EDITION or Ritz-Carlton, your best bet is to book through the Marriott STARS program, where that’s a perk.

Marriott Bonvoy's Complicated Elite Breakfast Benefit Explained (3)

Marriott brands that offer free elite breakfast

The following Marriott brands allow elite members to select complimentary breakfast as their welcome amenity:

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  • Aloft
  • Autograph Collection (resorts only)
  • Delta (resorts only)
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • JW Marriott (resorts only)
  • Le Meridien
  • Luxury Collection
  • Marriott (resorts only)
  • Protea
  • Renaissance (resorts only)
  • Sheraton
  • St. Regis
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Westin
  • W
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Marriott brands that offer elite food & beverage credit

The following Marriott brands allow elite members to select a food & beverage credit as their welcome amenity, which could be applied to breakfast (or something else):

  • AC Hotels
  • Autograph Collection (hotels only)
  • Courtyard
  • Delta (hotels only)
  • Gaylord
  • JW Marriott (hotels only)
  • Marriott (hotels only)
  • Moxy
  • Renaissance (hotels only)
Marriott Bonvoy's Complicated Elite Breakfast Benefit Explained (5)

How executive lounge access fits into this

What complicates this even further is that Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members and above receive complimentary lounge access at a vast majority of Marriott brands, assuming there’s a lounge. The only widespread exclusion is Ritz-Carlton club lounges, as you have to buy access to those.

If you’re staying at a property like a Marriott or Sheraton, you’ll automatically receive executive lounge access, and you don’t need to select that as your welcome amenity. With executive lounge access, you’ll also get complimentary continental breakfast in the lounge.

However, as you can see, you can still select restaurant breakfast as your welcome amenity, if you’re in a situation where you’d prefer to dine in the restaurant rather than in the lounge (since the selection is sometimes superior). However, some hotels will automatically offer lounge guests to also enjoy restaurant breakfast, so you might not even need to select that as your welcome amenity to dine in the restaurant.

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Marriott Bonvoy elite breakfast FAQs

While the above covers the very basics, let me answer some of the most common questions about Marriott Bonvoy’s Platinum breakfast benefit.

Do Marriott Silver & Gold members get free breakfast?

No, aside from hotels that offer all guests free breakfast, there are no incremental elite breakfast perks for Silver and Gold members. Only Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador members get a breakfast benefit.

For how many people does Marriott’s breakfast benefit apply?

Generally speaking Marriott’s breakfast benefit applies for the elite member plus one additional guest. In some cases if you’re staying in a room with more people (like children) hotels may offer them free breakfast too, but that’s a courtesy rather than a policy.

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Is tip included with Marriott’s breakfast benefit?

There’s nothing in the Marriott Bonvoy terms indicating whether gratuity is included with elite breakfast perks. I’ve found that some hotels do include gratuity for elite breakfast, while others don’t. Generally this is a non-issue outside the United States, while in the United States I always try to bring some cash to breakfast, in the event that it’s not.

How do you redeem your Marriott breakfast benefit?

The first step is to make sure you select breakfast as your elite welcome amenity when you check-in. Once that’s selected, the front desk associate should explain the process for actually using the breakfast benefit. At some hotels you just charge the full amount of breakfast to your room, and it’s taken off at check-out. At other hotels you have to present a voucher when you’re seated.

Is Marriott breakfast continental or full?

It depends who you ask. If you ask me, Marriott’s elite benefit is for continental breakfast. Looking at the Marriott Bonvoy terms & conditions:

  • The welcome amenity is generally for “breakfast in restaurant,” without mentioning what kind of breakfast
  • When you select breakfast as a welcome amenity in lieu of lounge access, the terms specifically state you’re entitled to continental breakfast

Some take that to mean that you get a full, hot breakfast at hotels with a club lounge. Personally that’s not my interpretation, and for that matter a vast majority of hotels I’ve stayed at would be in violation of the rules if that were the case. With Marriott I just expect a continental breakfast, and if I get more than that I consider myself to be lucky.

Should you select breakfast as your Marriott welcome amenity?

In almost all cases, selecting breakfast as your welcome amenity is the better value. Let me give an example of why. I recently stayed at the St. Regis Aspen for five nights, and as a Titanium member I could select either a $52 daily breakfast credit, or a welcome amenity of 1,000 points.

Over the course of my five night stay, that $52 credit adds up to $260. Meanwhile the 1,000 point welcome amenity is offered once per stay. I value Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each, so to me 1,000 points are worth $7. It wasn’t too tough to decide between $260 worth of breakfast or $7 worth of points.

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How consistent is Marriott’s elite breakfast benefit?

Not at all. As you might expect, there’s huge variability in terms of the execution of the complimentary breakfast benefit, and it perhaps reflects general recognition of elite status around the globe.

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Outside the United States the breakfast benefit is often incredible, with access to a full buffet at no extra cost. In the United States it’s a different story, and more often than not I find one of the following to be the case:

  • The breakfast benefit is explicitly for something you may not necessarily want and that’s very limited, like a bowl of cereal, a banana, and some coffee
  • The breakfast benefit is a certain dollar amount that covers some very basic items, but can be applied toward something else

I obviously prefer the latter method. It often means my breakfast won’t be free, but at least I’ll get what I actually want at a reasonable cost.

I actually can’t remember the last time I stayed at a Marriott property in the United States and could order what I wanted for breakfast without it costing me anything out of pocket.

Marriott Bonvoy's Complicated Elite Breakfast Benefit Explained (9)

How does Marriott’s breakfast benefit compare to competitors?

How does the Marriott Bonvoy breakfast benefit compare to what competitors offer? Here’s my general take:

  • World of Hyatt is the best, as Globalist members receive complimentary full breakfast at a vast majority of properties globally
  • IHG One Rewards is now also competitive, as Diamond members receive complimentary full breakfast at most brands
  • Hilton Honors Diamond and Hilton Honors Gold members have the benefit of getting a benefit at all brands, though nowadays properties in the United States just , rather than complimentary breakfast
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Bottom line

Complimentary breakfast is one of the most valuable benefits of hotel elite status. However, the execution is different with every loyalty program, and for that matter you’ll even find quite a bit of variance within a particular loyalty program.

Marriott Bonvoy has the most complicated elite breakfast benefit. Long story short, you should get lounge access, complimentary breakfast, or a food & beverage credit at all but five brands. The execution of that is highly variable, though, with some hotels offering access to an amazing breakfast buffet without paying a dime, while other hotels offer a cup of coffee and a muffin.

What has your experience been with Marriott’s elite breakfast benefit?

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