Deck the halls from coast to coast.
The holidays are here, which means it’s officially time to deck the halls, trim the trees, and brighten up the night with lights. But there’s no vacancy for Scrooge at these hotels across North America, which host some of the most spectacular opportunities to raise a toast to the season. From the most massive (and admittedly edible) gingerbread creations to the best holiday-filled places to enjoy a spirit, the sweetest “Santa Suites,” and the tallest towering Christmas trees—here’s a collection of the best destinations to enjoy some fabulous festivities and have the chance to the spend the night.
Top Picks for You
Giant Gingerbread Gems
At the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida, you’ll find the “World’s Largest Gingerbread Pirate Ship” docked in the lobby and adorned with sugar-sculpted pirates. Meanwhile, over in Asheville, North Carolina, The Omni Grove Park Inn is known for its legendary National Gingerbread House Competition—here, every single work of ginger-art from the competition is annually displayed in the lobby. At the Cloister at Sea Island in Georgia, the property’s life-sized gingerbread house will be taken to the next level—this year it’s a life-sized gingerbread cottage advent calendar. Not to be outdone, Wisconsin’s Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva will boast a gingerbread house walk, along with its traditional decor including a light show with over 2 million lights. The Four Seasons Hotel Austin, Texas is bringing back its annual Gingerbread Village with 11 edible houses, including Santa’s Workshop and a town square complete with an edible Christmas tree.
Igloo Abodes and the Chillest of Ice Bars
Check out an igloo village chalet—in the desert—at the scenic Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock in Arizona. At the ADERO Scottsdale, also in Arizona, the property transforms into a winter wonderland as The Village at ADERO returns with intimate dining globes outfitted with cozy throw pillows, blankets, and expansive views of the Sonoran Desert. Over at the Bobby Hotel in Nashville’s iconic Rooftop Lounge is known for its retrofitted 1956 Scenicruiser—and now, it’s becoming “Camp Bobby” for the holidays—complete with a ’70s camp-inspired theme including a rooftop ice skating rink made to look like a frozen pond and heated igloos. At The Fairmont Banff, in Alberta, Canada, there’s an enormous 360° globe igloo dome outdoor venue—and at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, New York, the ninth annual Glacier Ice Bar & Lounge keeps its title as one of the coolest events in the Northeast.
Over-the-Top Ice Rinks
Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, hosts Skating by the Sea for beachfront ice skating that benefits Make-A-Wish San Diego. With thousands of white sparkling lights, magnificent Christmas trees, ornament-trimmed evergreens, and garlands, skaters can enjoy a charming setting at this property to get into the holiday spirit. The Peninsula Sky Rink in Chicago hosts a 2,100 square foot ice rink—the only hotel skating rink in Chicago, in fact—and it’s perched high above bustling Michigan Avenue. Surrounded by Chicago’s skyscrapers and twinkling lights, this skater’s paradise is tucked into a pine tree winter wonderland bathed in festive music and snowflake (and city) lighting.
Santa’s Gone Wild
At the Holiday in the Gardens at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center in Galveston, Texas, an adrenaline-seeking Santa Claus will parachute from the North Pole into one of the largest light displays on the Gulf Coast—the Festival of Lights event. At Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Maui, Santa arrives on a Hawaiian outrigger canoe. In Texas, each year the Austin Motel transforms the property for the Winter Wanderland event—full of bright lights and colorful trees decked out with holiday cheer, rainbow lights, carols with a drag Mrs. Claus, and a visit from a special “Hunky Santa.” Over at the Courtyard Greenville Downtown in South Carolina, every night during the holiday season Santa’s Sleigh (a motorized converted 1993 Ford Aerostar) departs steps from the town’s 30 foot Christmas Tree, adorned with more than 25,000 LED lights.
Especially Sweet Suites
The Swissotel Chicago’s 2,000-square-foot presidential suite transforms into Santa’s Workshop, featuring over-the-top décor and numerous glistening Christmas trees with sweeping views of the cityscape. The Omni Dallas’ presidential suite also converts into a magical Christmas wonderland complete with extravagant Christmas décor and nightly turndown hot cocoa and cookies. At the Hilton Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill the presidential suite turned wonderland is decked out in festive décor including a personal pop-up igloo. At Lido House in Newport Beach, California, two on-site cottages transform into festive escapes decked out with over-the-top holiday decor and a special Holiday Cottage package. At the Graduate Evanston in Illinois, the Home Alone Room is a detail-by-detail replica of Kevin McCallister’s parents’ bedroom where he notoriously spent his time “home alone” during Christmastime. In Alexandria, Virginia, Morrison House’s Deck the Halls Package brings the ultimate holiday magic into any room with a small tree, stockings, and seasonal treats like Christmas cookies.
At the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California, the lobby glitters with lights, red and gold garlands, holiday florals, oversized Christmas ornaments, and welcoming nutcracker statues. Not to be outdone, the Beverly Hills Hotel showcases whimsical lighting and inspired lobby decorations, including ribbon bows, garland, display presents, and the famous Beverly Hills Hotel Nutcrackers. The Bellagio in Las Vegas’ holiday Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are outfitted with holiday-trimmed botanical elements including a 42-foot-tall fir tree sparkling with thousands of lights, a beautifully snow-capped mountain range, a cozy Swiss chalet, and Santa’s sleigh filled with gifts. At the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, the team will be debuting a stunning Festive Floral Installation by local artist, Noah Harders on display from mid-December through the new year. Approximately 1,500 king protea, 2,500 queen protea, 1,000-plus dried palms, and more are used to create this holiday extravaganza.
The La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs’ Christmas tree towers over one hundred feet tall, along with twinkling lights, holiday décor, and festive storefront windows. At the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington, guests can create a new holiday family tradition by picking up their own favorite tree, wreath, or mistletoe right on-site to take home at the Nelson Christmas Tree Lot. In Key West, Florida, hotel guests at Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort can enjoy a tropical spin on the holidays with a tree lighting event centered around a Christmas tree made solely of sand by the resort’s resident master sand sculptor. The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec decorates its lobby with The Trees of Hope, decorated Christmas trees donated by local companies.
Christmas Market Magic
The Kimpton Hotel Monaco D.C. & Dirty Habit in Washington, D.C., are partners of Washington DC’s “17th Annual “Downtown Holiday Market,” one of the largest holiday markets on the east coast. The yuletide magic of the market spills into the property’s courtyard with a tented celebration full of holiday décor, outdoor fire pits, blankets, string lights to set the city festival aglow, with cocktail specials by Dirty Habit. During the holiday season, Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida, hosts festive events including the annual The Henderson Holiday Market, at which travelers are invited to enjoy live music, local vendors, tree lighting, seasonally inspired beverages, festive décor, and more at The Henderson. In Oregon, one of the best places to celebrate the season is at the Oregon Garden Resort’s Silverton Christmas Market with over 1 million lights, plus gifts and goodies from local vendors, drinks in the Biergarten, and snowless tubing.
Dazzling Luminary Displays
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona continues its famous annual Christmas at the Princess celebration, where guests can explore six-million sparkling LED lights, a 6,000-square-foot skating rink, a 120-foot sledding hill, a narrated nativity garden light show, and more. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, is outfitted with two 20-foot-tall trees, four 15-foot-tall trees, five six-foot-tall trees, and 100,000 total lights on-site with over 700 feet of garlands, and 40 wreaths. Holly Jolly Jekyll at Jekyll Island, Georgia, hosts half a million light bulbs (35,000-plus lights on the great tree alone!), plus 712 firework shells, and 15 Santa sightings. And The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California, is known for its five-week-long holiday extravaganza featuring one of the nation’s largest holiday light collections. This castle-like hotel is instantly illuminated with five-million holiday lights, 200 animated figures including angels, elves, and Dickens carolers.
Delightfully… “Distinctive” Decor
In Florida, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota crafts a unique holiday-themed sand sculpture made with 450 pounds of sand to be displayed inside the lobby. In California’s Bay Area, the Après Village at Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley simulates a cozy mountainside retreat with rustic wooden chalets, sleek fire tables, and lighted alpine trees. “Snow” falls around the life-sized snow globe. The day after Thanksgiving at the Benbow Historic Inn in Garberville, California, the Christmas elves start their work of transforming the inn into a holiday wonderland with a magical Toyland Christmas theme—all public areas including the lobby, dining room, lounge, and entrances are festooned with fabulously nostalgic decorations. At The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Waikiki, Hawaii, guests can check out a wreath-wrapped lanai with a Surfjack-branded surfboard in lieu of a traditional Christmas tree.
Historic Hotel Holiday Happenings
The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs rings in its 103rd Christmas in 2021, with a million white lights, a giant gingerbread house, dozens of decorated Christmas trees, and more. The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington, boasts 100-plus years of becoming a magical world of old-world elegance during the holidays and, as part of “Christmas Tree Elegance” (its annual fundraiser for the Spokane Symphony), dozens of trees on-site are stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash and prizes, and raffled off for $1 tickets to raise money for the Symphony. The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, has been celebrating for 125-plus years, but each year new additions inevitably surprise and delight even the most loyal, repeat guests. Thousands of soft white lights encase the hundreds of majestic royal palms and Canary Island date trees, with 170,000 twinkle lights, 8,000 ornaments, 12,000 feet of ribbon, and 126 bows.
Standout Light Shows
The Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho hosts a Holiday Light Show that showcases more than a million lights reflecting off of Lake Coeur d’Alene, and a floating boardwalk with America’s tallest floating Christmas tree. All of the Gaylord Hotels across the country are unveiling an impressive brand-new, multi-sensory marquee Christmas experience called Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf. The participating hotels include Gaylord Palms in Florida, Gaylord Opryland in Tennessee, Gaylord Texan in Texas, Gaylord Rockies in Colorado, and Gaylord National in Maryland. But the Gaylord Texan is hosting a special Merry & Light event—a whimsical walk through an outdoor light installation showcasing more than 400,000 lights, a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree with an animated light show, and a mock North Pole with real falling snow.
Cheeriest Places to Say “Cheers!”
The Fairmont Royal York Toronto is serving up a range of over-the-top libations in a whimsical pop-up, The Thirsty Elf, complete with Christmas sweaters, kitschy décor, and cheerful, festive cocktails. In downtown Nashville, Holston House goes all out at Bar Tenn, with an over-the-top Tacky Christmas Bar Extravaganza complete with winter wonderland décor, live holiday music, and a variety of holiday cocktails like the “License to Chill.” At the Marriott Marquis Houston in Texas, Texas Winter Lights visitors can float under thousands of twinkling lights via the world’s largest Texas-shaped lazy river while sipping on signature winter-themed cocktails like a warm spiced apple pie drink or peppermint mocha espresso martini. At California’s Pendry San Diego, Nason’s Beer Hall will be decked out in the jolliest, brightest, over-the-top holiday decor and offer frosty cocktails like ‘Rum and Cookies’ in a snowy white glass with a cookie cut-out for Santa.
Perfectly (Un)Wrapped Holiday Hotel Packages
The Shelborne South Beach in Florida is offering a “Very Miami Holiday” package complete with milk and cookies turndown service, cafecito and pastelitos from David’s Cafe for a Miami spin on the traditional holiday treat, and jet ski rentals from Boucher Brothers for some iconic coastal winter fun. In Colorado, Viceroy Snowmass is offering a dedicated “Holiday Missed Moments Package,” ensuring those who were unable to enjoy traditional celebrations IRL last year will have access to a dedicated Holiday Concierge setting up festive décor and private experiences to make up for lost time. In Los Angeles, the L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is partnering with Love Actually Live so travelers and locals alike can enjoy a one-of-a-kind immersive holiday package, from “stage to suite,” including an autographed Love Actually Live Playbill, a chauffeured ride from the L’Ermitage Beverly Hills to The Wallis for the performance, and two mezzanine seating tickets.