Holiday Inn Express has been ordered not to describe breakfasts as being free when they are already included in the price of an overnight stay.

The advertising watchdog upheld three complaints against the InterContinental Hotels brand’s advertising on TV and its website.

Banning the adverts, the Advertising Standards Authority said: “We told InterContinental Hotels Group not to refer to breakfasts as being free if the room rates were inclusive of them.”

ICH told the ASA that the use of ‘free breakfast’ in advertising was implemented by the Holiday Inn Express brand in the UK in April 2011.

The hotel giant said that breakfast had always been provided for free to guests since the first Holiday Inn Express hotels were opened in 1996. The company said that breakfast at these hotels was described as being ‘complimentary’ before April 2011.

ICH asserted that the use of the claim ‘free breakfast’ was used by its competitors in the same manner in their advertising and that the use of ‘free’ was also frequently used outside the hotel industry, an example being ‘free wi-fi’ at a number of well-known fast food chain restaurants and coffee shops.

But the ASA in its judgment today said: “We considered that the hotel room rate was inclusive of the breakfast, regardless of whether guests chose to take the breakfast.

“Therefore, we concluded that the claims ‘we give you a free breakfast’ and ‘free breakfast’ were misleading.”