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What is a Modified American Plan?

By D. Poupon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A modified American is a lodging package where breakfast and one other meal is included in the price quoted for a night’s stay in a hotel. Guests can chose between eating lunch or dinner at the hotel restaurant at preferential rates, although they are welcome to eat their third meal there at a la carte rates as well. The modified American Plan is ideal for travelers who may be staying only a few nights in town, so they can explore local cuisines but are ensured one good meal at the hotel. It is not the ideal hotel plan for either out-of-the-way destinations or metropolitan areas with too few and too many restaurant choices, respectively.

In the beginning of the 19th century, early restaurateurs would force guests to pay for room and board if they consumed meals. Full room and board with three meals included at a hotel or tavern has hence been known as an American Plan. A reduced two-meal lodging package is called a Modified American Plan and is often more practical for modern travelers.

If a Modified American Plan is offered, then the hotel or guest house has a kitchen with full meals available. Typically both lunch and dinner are served, although during weekdays, dinner may be the only meal available in smaller establishments. Some hotels requests that guest specify ahead of time which meal will be taken at the hotel restaurant, although other places will allow guests to drop in, merely showing their hotel key or providing a room number.

The Modified American Plan is both convenient and flexible. Guests who arrive after a long trip do not need to explore a new town to find dinner. Hotel restaurants typically provide high-quality local cuisine at reasonable prices. Guests who are out sightseeing or doing business do not have to feel obliged to run back to their hotel at lunchtime. Guests who wake up late may opt for lunch at the hotel and then leisurely search for local cuisine at night.

For some travelers, the Modified American plan is not ideal. In grand hotels with many amenities, such as swimming pools, skiing or shopping on the premises, guests need to look no further than their hotel restaurant. A three-meal American plan would be a better choice for guests in isolated areas with few restaurants. On the other hand, visitors to large metropolitan areas, where culinary delights are found around every corner, might prefer a European Plan, which does not include any meals at all. Complementary coffee, which is typically available in even the most inexpensive lodgings, might be the only thing that urban travelers need to get out the door.

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