My perspective is primarily European, since I did my Master's in Sweden and my PhD in Germany. That said, I did take a break before starting on my PhD. It wasn't entirely voluntarily -- I did not get any PhD studentships when I wanted them, and had to wait for the next round of applications.
During my break, I moved from Sweden to Germany, and took a job doing industrial software design for a consultancy firm. It gave me good experiences, the knowledge that I could make a career in industry, and also a very strong drive to make it in academia. Furthermore, the PhD position I eventually was admitted to, I got in part because I had, at that point, both Open Source and industry experience with packaging, shipping and distributing software -- something my advisor wanted to learn more about.
For me, this all worked out well. I left my industry job after 10 months to start a PhD, I graduated with a decent enough thesis, and now -- several years later -- I am about to start the first research project with my name on the grant application.
One fundamentally important thing to note with my anecdote is that there is a huge difference in how PhDs are admitted in large parts of Europe vs. in the US. For my PhD, I applied for a job with a particular professor, which happened to include “opportunity to study for a PhD” as part of the job description. This is how it mostly is done in Germany, and also in Sweden. In this setting, it is important that you come to the PhD with a set of credentials that will be valuable to your advisor, specifically. I managed to do just this with my break -- but that was luck as much as anything else.
In the US, there seems to be a LOT more politics involved in the process, and the applying to a school aspect of the US process biases the experience more towards grooming your CV for academia in general.
Your mileage will vary.