European Plan vs American Plan – What’s The Difference?

Hotels and resorts offer their clientele different types of onboard rated plans that may include meals or none at all.

If you are a newbie, you might find it difficult to grasp the terminology used in the hotel’s service description. That said, this post will break down two major terms used when booking hotels.

What is the difference between European plan and American plan?

The European plan means that the rates only cover your accommodation; as a result, you will have to pay extra to use the hotel’s dining options (often referred to as the “room only” plan). On the other hand, The American plan means your rate covers the bed plus the three main meals of the day for the duration of your stay.

The European PlanThe American Plan
Payment is just for the overnight stay.Payment is inclusive of the overnight stay.
Payment is not inclusive of meals, not even breakfast.Payment is inclusive of the main meals mainly; breakfast, lunch, and supper if they are spending yet another night.
The client clears payment before being allowed into the room.The client may pay a deposit and clear the rest during the course of his/her stay.

The common factor is that these two plans are charged daily and include an overnight stay. The point to note though is that the meals in the American plan are not inclusive of snacks or drinks in-between meals.

Clients are varied in the hospitality industry and they make reservations based on different reasons.

Some clients are on business, some are making an overnight stopover while others are on vacation.

And they all book different hotel plans that fit their needs.

Clients that pick the European plans may be on a tight budget, may leave the facility before dawn, would rather eat somewhere else because of the quality or price of food or they may just not be big on food.

Better still, they may be free spirits whose part of the adventure is to sample nearby eateries and restaurants that do not offer accommodation.

Then some clients come and go throughout the day.

They may be travelers who go out sightseeing loaded with snacks but come back in time for the main meals. Or they may be clients running business errands located in the locality in the mornings and the afternoons.

Whatever the case, it means that they buy their snacks and may get to spend more than a day in the facility.

See related: European Bed Guide: Compared to American Standards

Definition of European plan

“Room only” hotel-rated plans are meant for clients who are not interested in bed and breakfast or any extra meals but just need to rest their tired limbs.

In the morning, they will wake up and check out or they may leave the facility for the day and come back in the evening to spend yet another night.

In other words, it means the boarding unit of the facility is good and secure or it is within the clients’ budget range.

Still, it may mean that the surrounding locality is rich with life, and interacting with the surrounding world is both interesting and fascinating.

Either way, it’s a plan which is very much convenient for some people.

Also, some hotels have excellent facilities and services meaning that their rates are higher than others, so instead of a client losing on all of it, they may decide to sleep in the facility but go out for meals, snacks, and drinks at relatively cheaper joints.

This way, the client gets to enjoy staying at the facility and sample cheaper cuisines and other facilities while staying on budget.

See related: What is “Room Run of the House”? Is it even worth It?

Definition of American plan

In the American plan, the rates a client pays for the overnight stay are inclusive of the three main meals of the day which are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But it is not to be confused with the all-inclusive plan because in the all-inclusive, a client is served the three main meals plus snacks in between.

The American plan which sometimes is abbreviated as AP is therefore in between the European plan and the all-inclusive in terms of packaging.

People who check into a hotel and have no plans of either checking out the next morning or have plans of dining in another facility may choose this plan over the all-inclusive or the European plan.

Probably because it is cheaper, or the setting is in a remote location where there are few or no hotels or eateries at all.

With this plan, the main meals are served in the main dining room of the facility as opposed to room service.

Either way, it is one of the most common hotels plans not only in hotels but also in cruises ships.

Read more: All-inclusive vs European Plan

Final Thoughts

The difference between the European plan, the American plan, and the all-inclusive plan is generally in the food, drinks, services, and even activities each plan has in its package.

That is what puts them apart and the secret lies in the rates which a client sorts out depending on which suits their personal needs and convenience.

At the end of the day, the dependency of a client on a facility lies in the type of package they plan on having.