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Sweeten up the Holiday Season With These Life-Size Gingerbread Houses

It’s your (and your dentist's) Christmas wish come true!

Who says holiday sweets are only for kids? Especially when said sweets are giant gingerbread houses dripping with sugary indulgences. Some of these spicy confections are pretty to look at, while others are open for business—as bars and dining rooms—and some aren’t houses at all. Here are some of the best (and most innovative).

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WHERE: Vienna, Austria

A thousand gingerbread cakes decorated with more than 2,000 different cookies—cinnamon stars, meringues, sweet pretzels, jelly drops—compose this magnificent, life-size gingerbread house at the InterContinental Vienna. The tradition has been going on for ages, as all local kids know. The best part? Nibbles are totally encouraged (which explains why cookies constantly need to be replaced at least twice a week).

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Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa

WHERE: Grand Cayman

What could be better than sipping a “Santa’s Cider”—a special holiday cocktail containing St. Remy brandy, Amaro Montenegro, rosemary, lemon, and hard cider? Sipping it inside a festive gingerbread house. That’s what you can do at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, where 800 pounds of spiced cookie dough, 350 pounds of icing, and 100 pounds of candy have gone into creating a life-size gingerbread bar and house, standing 12 feet tall and 15 feet long! The sugar-adorned structure, complete with plenty of standing room to mingle, will be serving up yuletide cocktails in the hotel’s lobby between December 2 and January 4.

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Westin Austin Downtown

WHERE: Austin, Texas

It’s one thing to eat the sugary goodness that is a gingerbread house. It’s quite another to eat within a gingerbread house. But that’s exactly what you—and nine other guests—can do at the Westin Austin Downtown, with its Texas-size gingerbread dining room, open for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner. This year’s theme is Christmas vacation, in honor of this year’s 25th anniversary of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And because it’s the season of giving, a portion of all proceeds are donated to Back on My Feet, an organization that combats homelessness through running programs. The gingerbread dining room will be open from November 21 to January 1.

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WHERE: Amelia Island, Florida

Okay, this one’s a little different. We’ve heard of gingerbread houses, but a gingerbread pirate ship? But that’s what’s going down at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where the S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship towers over the lobby. Privateer Luis Aury’s ship, the Mexican Congress, inspired this creation—you know, the guy who captured Amelia Island in the early 19th century. The 17-foot-long ship comes complete with eight little sugar pirates clothed in colored fondant, chocolate cannon, a treasure chest overflowing with sweets, and gingerbread spice cargo boxes. It’s on display from November 27 to December 29.

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Rancho Bernardo Inn

WHERE: San Diego, California

The life-size gingerbread house that stands sentry in the Rancho Bernardo Inn’s lobby every Christmastime is a long-time tradition here in North County San Diego. Bedecked with a children’s fantasy of candy, the gigantic gingerbread abode utilizes a ton of powdered sugar, 750 pounds of cake flour, 2,160 eggs and takes months to create every brick and tile.

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The Broadmoor

WHERE: Colorado Springs, Colorado

We’re in Colorado, land of 14-footers, so it’s perfectly natural that the Broadmoor’s gingerbread display this year celebrates the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb—a hardcore automobile race up the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak that has taken place since 1916, with 156 torturous turns along the way. Specially featured will be the legendary Yellow Devil, a 1918 Pierce-Arrow that sprinted up the mountain eight times in the 1920s and ‘30s. This super innovative confection will be unveiled during the Broadmoor’s White Lights Ceremony from November 23 to 27.

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Jefferson Hotel

WHERE: Richmond, Virginia

This stately hotel in Virginia’s state capital has showcased a gingerbread house for nearly a decade, focusing on a different theme. This year, the pastry team has outdone itself with an Arctic scene centered on a gingerbread igloo. It’s the little details that are most amazing: little gingerbread elves, polar bear, penguin, otter—even Santa. Check it out in the Palm Court Lobby, where it will be on display between December 2 and January 5.

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WHERE: New Orleans, Louisiana

Stella! Hey Stella! Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans is immortalizing New Orleans’ most famous transportation line this year in a to-scale gingerbread rendition of the St. Charles streetcar! And that’s not all. Peering out the windows are notable New Orleanians from past and present: Ellen DeGeneres, Allen Toussaint, Emeril Lagasse, Drew Brees, even Papa Noel himself. The hotel pastry team has been really busy, because that’s still not all, y’all. There isn’t one, but two, gingerbread structures. The second is a gingerbread tugboat named the SS Bingle, honoring Mr. Bingle, the snowman assistant to Santa Claus that once served as holiday mascot of the Maison Blanche department store (which formerly occupied the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans’ building). Now that’s a gingerbread twist.

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Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

WHERE: Farmington, Pennsylvania

Mix 700 pounds of gingerbread, 1,800 candy canes, bags of peppermint swirls, and lots of holiday cheer, and what do you get? A life-size gingerbread house that you can walkthrough! Following the theme “Wrapped in Red,” this year’s confectionery extravaganza at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort includes a greenhouse attached with blooming plants. It’s unveiling the day after Thanksgiving kicks off the resort’s holiday season, alongside the twinkling Light Up Nemacolin, a holiday light show featuring more than 2 million lights illuminating the property.

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