If you’re trying to decide on the destination for your next winter vacation, it’s hard to think of a more magical place to spend Christmas than New York City. From getting your sugarplum fix with The Nutcracker ballet show to ice skating at the Wollman rink in Central Park and marveling at the glittering 82-ft Rockefeller Christmas tree, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to celebrating the holiday season in the Big Apple. To help you plan your stay, we’ve rounded up New York’s best festive hotels that have gone above and beyond to give guests an unforgettable Christmas.
It’s fitting that the first luxurious hotel on our list of the best hotels for spending Christmas in the Big Apple is also one of the locations behind Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Paying homage to the classic movie, The Plaza gives guests a unique opportunity to take a limousine ride around New York City visiting other famous landmarks featured in the film including the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and Central Park (all while munching your way through an extra large cheese pizza, Kevin McCallister-style).
Of course, when it comes to decorations no expense is spared at the iconic hotel. On November 29, you can watch the annual Christmas Plaza tree lighting with a glass of bubbly from the Champagne Bar, while listening to live festive music to get you in the holiday mood. There are also plenty of opportunities for your little one to meet Santa, with meet and greets scheduled in the lobby throughout December, exclusively for hotel guests. As for dining, The Plaza boasts a mouthwatering Christmas menu featuring spiced honey glazed ham with all the trimmings and a traditional bread pudding with a generous splash of Grand Marnier liqueur.
For a truly breathtaking Christmas decoration display in New York, The Peninsula hotel (located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan) is well worth a visit. Kicking off the festivities at the end of November, guests can head up to Salon de Ning (the hotel’s chic rooftop bar on its East Terrace) for the yearly tree lighting celebration complete with cocktails, canapés and carols. And if you’re staying for New Year’s, Salon de Ning is set to host a Studio 54-inspired disco party with a live DJ, specialty cocktail bar and plenty of champagne to toast in 2023.
To make the holiday season extra special for your little one this year, consider having your room decked out with a tree, gingerbread playhouse and candy cane scavenger hunt as part of the hotel’s Night Before Christmas package. The hotel will also host Victorian carolers at the grand lobby staircase every Friday and Saturday from November 25 to December 25.
Lotte New York Palace
Located just two blocks from Radio Music City Hall, the legendary Lotte New York Palace is the perfect place to stay if you’re planning on attending the annual Christmas Spectacular show starring the world-renowned precision dance troupe, the Radio City Rockettes. The ultra-luxe hotel is also just a stone’s throw from the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and the glittering festive displays at the city’s famed department stores.
Throughout the festive season, guests can enjoy fresh-baked sweets every afternoon and a shuttle service around Midtown for last-minute Christmas shopping trips. From the end of November, little ones are able to post their letters to Santa at the Santa Mailbox in the hotel’s grand marble lobby. In a thoughtful touch, letters are collected each afternoon by the ‘Palace Elves’ and sent to the North Pole, before personalized responses from Santa Claus are delivered to guests’ rooms.
The hotel’s grand lobby will also be home to a miniature gingerbread palace carefully crafted over 300 hours by the Lotte pastry team with over 110 pounds of flour (on display Nov 28-Dec 31).
St. Regis New York
Since opening its doors over a century ago, the St. Regis New York has established itself as one of the most opulent hotels in New York and a hot spot for the rich and famous. Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan (five minutes from Central Park) you’re within walking distance of New York City Ballet where you can catch a performance of holiday favorite, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
Before you even step foot inside St. Regis New York, you know you’re in safe hands when it comes to festivities. With timeless decorations even Scrooge would have a hard time complaining about, the entrance to the 18-story Beaux-Arts hotel is dotted with mini Christmas trees and flanked by giant nutcrackers.
Situated on the 35th – 54th floors of the Deutsche Bank Center, with breathtaking views of the skyline and Hudson River, the Mandarin Oriental deserves a mention for its location alone. While the distinctive interiors blend Asian-inspired décor with a contemporary design when it comes to Christmas the lavish hotel keeps things traditional.
If you’re looking for a festive home from home, you can choose to transform your suite with the Home for the Holidays package. The cozy makeover includes a 9ft 5in tree, decorative hanging stockings, wreaths and an array of festive candy.
If you can bring yourself to step foot outside your suite, head down to the stylish lounge to enjoy a special Christmas feast (the eggnog brioche French toast is not to be missed). And if you’re wondering what to do for New Year’s Eve, the Mandarin Oriental will be keeping the bubbly flowing with a special celebration complete with live music and all the choicest nibbles from caviar to wagyu beef.
Located across the street from Central Park (and the iconic Wollman ice skating rink) the Ritz Carlton is a safe bet when it comes to spending the holiday season in New York. First opened in 1930, the legendary hotel underwent an extensive renovation in 2019 and is looking more glamorous than ever.
As well as enjoying a delicious Christmas menu at Contour, you can warm up with a festive tipple in the cozy wood-paneled lounge. And if whisky’s your bag, the hotel can organize for you to join a certified bourbon steward for an exclusive tour and tasting at New York’s oldest distillery, Kings County in Brooklyn.
No festive round-up of the best hotels for spending Christmas in New York would be complete without The Langham. Located on Fifth Avenue, between Bryant Park and the Empire State building, the plush 60-story hotel is the ideal base for enjoying the city’s ample festive offerings. Whether you’re dropping by at Saks for a spot of Christmas shopping or catching a show in the theater district, you’ll be right in the center of the action. And when the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much, you can retire to one of the elegant suites (all of which boast floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views of the skyline).
If you’re looking for a touch of holiday magic, consider the Very Vintage Christmas package. As well as decking out your suite with a tree, you can choose to have your family’s ornaments and stockings shipped to the Langham so they’ll be waiting in your room on arrival to make you feel at home. The package also includes four tickets to the Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Hall, a horse and carriage ride around Central Park, and milk and cookies from Santa for the kids.
Last but by no means least on our roundup of the best hotels for spending Christmas in New York is The Mark in the heart of the Upper East Side. The iconic hotel has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the holiday season, collaborating with Swarovski to transform the façade with a stunning display of crystal decorations.
The entrance of the hotel has been reimagined as a glittering gingerbread house made from millions of toffee-colored Swarovski crystals topped with a frosting and whipped cream roof and enormous emerald bow. Guests will be able to warm up with a hot chocolate, selection of festive treats and edible oversized Swarovski lollipops, served in carts outside.