Posted by: travelrat | December 21, 2009

Breakfastless in Madrid

Madrid, 20th September 2009.
The late King Hussein of Jordan used to like buffets, and said once that all State dinners should, where possible, be served buffet-style.
‘Then, people who think they’re important sit where they think they should sit. People who are important sit where they like!’
However, I’m afraid I don’t share His Majesty’s liking for them. The standards of hygiene in the kitchen may be impeccable, but can you be sure that everyone picking over that food washed their hands since they last used the toilet? Believe me, it’s not only greed that puts me near the head of the queue when the dinner gong sounds.

Another disadvantage is the kind of person that British comedian Jasper Carrott once called the ‘pitherer’ … buffets, I swear, attract them. You’ll recognise one straight away; obviously, he or she has never stood in a military chow-line. The worst one I ever saw was a large American lady who held the queue up for over five minutes while she debated, in one of those grating, nasal, CNN newsreader accents:

‘Oh, gee! What’d be good?’
 And, the thing that brought on this rant? On my latest visit to Madrid, I stayed once more at the Torrelaguna Travelodge. Normally, I don’t have breakfast there, preferring to eat in the Café y Té in the Plaza de Chamberi while I’m waiting for the bus to wherever. But, this time, I’d booked through Octopus, an agency I sometimes use (I get Air Miles from them) and they could only do the breakfast-included tariff.

Of course, it’s a buffet breakfast … and, there was a coach party in … in THREE coaches. I couldn’t get at the buffet for ten minutes, and, when I did, I found it had been stripped clean! The receptionist was sympathetic. I can get you something, he said, but I’m on my own and it will take about twenty minutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have twenty minutes; I had to leave.

On the way out, I passed the line of coaches, and briefly considered pegging a brick through the windscreen of one of them. But, I was getting really tight for time … and there weren’t any bricks handy, anyway.


  1. And even if the food has been prepared scrupulously and you are at the front of the queue, it’s been sitting in bain maries at perfect bacteria-incubating temperature for hours and everything is shrivelled and unappetising. Buffets are the pits.

  2. Hi Keith,
    How stupid of the Establishment not to take into consideration the extra people on the buses, they knew these people were coming I’m sure, but I feel it was their fault for not cooking enough food. Not very professional I must say.

    • I don’t think it was really the management’s fault … I put it down to the ‘half board syndrome’; the habit some people have of snarfing as much as possible at breakfast so they don’t want (and, more importantly, don’t have to buy) any lunch.

      If I’d come down 20 minutes earlier, I’d have got some breakfast, and someone would have had to make do with three sausages and rashers of bacon, instaed of four.

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