What is Half Board? A Guide to Understanding Board Basis

When it comes to booking a holiday, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is what board base to opt for. Perhaps you’re one of those who swears by the excellent value and hassle-free nature of all inclusive, or maybe you much prefer the freedom offered by self-catering. Either way, you should always consider your board base before you book any trip, rather than jumping straight for your usual option without question.

What makes for the most suitable selection can depend on the kind of trip you’re heading out on, and where it is you’re going to. To help you make your mind up, we’ll outline what the common board bases are, and let you know what kind of traveller they’d be suited to.

All Inclusive

All inclusive hotel

What you get: All inclusive does what it says on the tin; everything is included. That’s your three meals of the day covered, plus all your drinks and snacks in between. Depending on where you’re staying, this may even cover extra games and activities on your accommodation site.

Pros: Families tend to love the all inclusive option. Particularly if you’ve got any fussy eaters in tow, having the extensive options provided by the buffet can be a real relief. Not having to handle and manage all that foreign currency is another bonus of going all inclusive, and don’t forget to weigh up the benefit of having all your drinks paid for, as this can be a real money-saver. If you’re staying at a fairly remote resort and are unlikely to venture out much, all inclusive is the obvious choice.

Cons: The main drawback with all inclusive is that dining can get a little samey, though most resorts will try to mix things up with themed days and rotating menus. And if you’re likely to head into the town for most of your lunches and the occasional dinner, it might not make so much sense.

Full Board

Full board hotel

What you get: Much like all inclusive, choosing full board means you’ll get three meals a day included in the cost of your accommodation. You’ll be served at your hotel or resort in three sittings at set times, with either a buffet or made-to-order meals on offer. The difference, however, is that all your drinks and snacks won’t be included. You may well be served one soft drink alongside your meal, but alcoholic beverages certainly won’t be included.

Pros: If you know you’re going to be spending most of your daytimes in your resort, you’ll be able to relax knowing all your meals are taken care of. It also means you won’t feel tied to your accommodation in the evenings, and can enjoy drinks out on the town without feeling like you’re spending unnecessarily.

Cons: Not having your beverages included makes this a far less enticing offer if you’re uncertain you’ll be around for all of your mealtimes, and some people find the rigid scheduling of the sittings quite restrictive.

Half Board

Half board hotel

What you get: When you choose half board, you’ll get breakfast and dinner included in your accommodation price, but won’t get your lunch, snacks or drinks covered. You might still be able to get your lunch on-site, just that you’ll have to pay for it yourself. Some accommodation options may not provide it at all, meaning you’ll have to head somewhere in town for a bite at midday.

Pros: If you’re the type who likes to get out and about during the day, this is a great option. You can get your fill before journeying out on an excursion, grab something off-resort during the day, and get back in time for dinner. It gives you much more freedom to occupy your days with trips to local landmarks, and out to some beaches that are a little further away from your accommodation.

Cons: If you’re really adventurous, you may be put off by the idea of having to be back in time for dinner. In which case, you’d be better off choosing…

Bed & Breakfast

Bed and breakfast

What you get: With this option, you’ll have to pay for all your meals, snacks and drinks yourself, expect breakfast. What and how much will be offer for breakfast varies depending on your resort and location, and you’ll have a set time each day to come and grab some food.

Pros: If you’re super-active on your holidays and spend most of your time off-resort, this is a sensible choice. It means you can fill up early in the morning, before you head out for a day’s activities. You won’t feel obliged to cut your day short to get back for dinner either.

Cons: Choosing this option will almost certainly result in a higher cost for your holiday once spends are factored in, and it might be hard to please some of the fussier eaters in your group.


Self-catering hotel

What you get: When you choose self-catering, you’ll receive no food or drink as part of your accommodation price. You will, however, have cooking facilities of your own provided as part of your accommodation space. Equipped with your own kitchen, you can pull together some local ingredients from a nearby store, and have a go at rustling something up yourself.

Pros: If you genuinely love to cook, this can be a fantastic option. By no means do you have to put together a meal every night, and you’ll no doubt want to sample some of the local restaurants, but many travellers enjoy having the option. Depending on where in the world you go, sourcing the raw materials to pull off something delicious for your entire group could be very cheap indeed. By choosing self-catering, you won’t feel obliged to eat at your hotel; you can splash out at a restaurant some nights, and save money by eating in on others.

Cons: If you don’t have the budget to be eating out regularly while you’re away, you’ll have no option but to cook and prepare your own meals three times a day; which could get a little taxing, at a time when you’re supposed to be unwinding.

Room Only

Room only hotel

What you get: Just like self-catering, you won’t get any food or beverages included with your accommodation. The difference is that you also won’t be provided with facilities to cook your own meals.

Pros: If you absolutely love eating out, and can’t wait to sample the local culinary offering when you go away, room only is the reasonable choice. You won’t want to be limited by eating at your resort each night, and there’s no point paying extra if you know you’ll only be tempted out by what the surrounding area has to offer. This is a particularly appropriate choice for busy city breaks, where time is at a premium and getting in on the hottest urban eateries is part and parcel of the experience.

Cons: You’ll have absolutely no choice but to eat out, the cost of which can really start to add up. And unless you’ve researched the area well, you may find the nearest bars and restaurants are a fair walk or drive away from where you’re staying.

Whichever board base you choose, get planning your next getaway with flights from Manchester Airport.