There’s nothing like giant scarlet red bows and twinkling lights by the thousands to celebrate the holiday season, and where better than among the holiday glam and gold of our favorite hotels to enjoy them?
This year, world-class hotels have created an array of festive displays and activities for everyone in the family to enjoy the magic of the holiday season from the most beautiful locations in the world. From life-sized gingerbread creations to Cowboy-themed soirées, travel expert Becca Hensley gives us a breakdown of the sparkliest Christmas hotels to bring the family together for good cheer.
The Ritz Paris, Paris, France
Let’s be frank. It doesn’t get much more opulent or ornate than The Ritz Paris, AKA the world’s first luxury hotel, composed of two 18th-century palaces. A trove of gilt, sumptuous fabrics, polished surfaces and savoir-faire, it truly does not need decorations to induce joy and awe. And yet, each holiday it rises to the occasion with the elegance of Coco Chanel, who was arguably its most revered resident. In 2021, The Ritz Paris presented a Swiss Christmas in honor of the hotel’s founder César Ritz.
This year, the hotel is not only celebrating the holiday season but also its 125th anniversary. For the occasions, guests can enjoy festive brunches, Christmas Gourmet tea à la française and will have the chance to experience the Salon Proust transformation into a dazzling Champagne Bar on New Year’s Eve.
The Roosevelt, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana
Dixieland Jazz realm’s most luxurious sanctum, The Roosevelt flaunts ornate embellishments and shiny surfaces in any season. But during the holidays, this home to the first Sazerac cocktail and beloved stomping ground of musical greats, such as Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles, ups its fanciful factor to quixotic levels.
During the festive time, house elves recast the block-long lobby into an elegant, wintery dreamscape. The extravaganza, forged from 112,000 lights, 1,600 feet of garland and 4,000 glass ornaments, has fairytale intonations. It never fails to melt hearts. Don’t miss The Roosevelt’s annual Teddy Bear Tea for children of all ages, held on various days and times from November 26 through December 27.
d’Angleterre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Things don’t get much more storybook than the place Hans Christian Andersen himself celebrated Christmas. A grande dame with holiday traditions dating back to 1755, this sumptuous hotel on Copenhagen’s central Kongens Nytorv (King’s Square) illuminates its classic facade with elaborate decorations and thousands of lights each Christmas.
Within, famed creative director Alan Evensen festoons the drawing room, airy lobby and public spaces to ensure the interiors appropriately reflect an ambiance with enough heartwarming hygge to match the gravitas of d’Angleterre’s famous glogg, a Danish holiday libation, made with spiced white port, rum, apple juice, and—of course—champagne.
A short walk away, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s veritable city-wide party and the world’s most legendary amusement park, further beckons with holiday adornments that would please Andersen himself.
Thompson Dallas, Dallas, Texas
This haven in downtown Dallas takes a no-holds-barred approach to the holidays. Their annual event “Twelve Days of Thompson”, held between November 21 and December 22, gives the opportunity to everyone in the family to enjoy the holiday season.
There is something for everyone at Thompson Dallas. From a “Cowboy Christmas Soirée” where guests can celebrate the festive season with bourbon and Lucchese boots, to holiday-themed cocktail crafting, live music and a Spa day, the hotel invites visitors and guests to experience the holiday magic. On December 22, children even have their own gingerbread decorating workshop with the culinary team, while parents can enjoy live holiday jazz.
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, Monaco
They’re stealthy at Hotel Metropole, a bedazzling Belle Époque hotel on Monte-Carlo’s Carré d’Or. While guests sleep, the staff sneak through the common rooms, transforming the hotel from a mere palace to a winter wonderland. Taking a theme each year to the max — such as the huge polar bears that studded the hallways amid an enchanted forest in 2019 — the hotel keeps its Christmas decor plans secret until the moment they are unveiled.
Spoiler alert: 2023’s display, called “Scarlet X’mas”, celebrates the color of the season: red. It features giant red bows and ribbons, a sumptuous and elegant Christmas tree, drapes of red fabric across the lobby bar and a lip-smacking Christmas Yule log created by executive chef Christoper Cussac and head pastry chef Patrick Mesiano. Guests also enjoy seasonal programming aplenty, from specialty desserts by the hotel’s pastry team to kid-friendly activities.
Fairmont San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Picture this: a two-story gingerbread house craftily ensconced in the spacious lobby of San Francisco’s most deluxe hotel. Exuberantly constructed during 520 hours of artistry and deemed the largest in California, the completely edible abode features hundreds of pounds of coveted See’s Candies—chocolates, lollipops and sour confections.
Guarded by displays of Nutcrackers flanked by trees, the cookie lover’s dream house stands 25-ft high and 35-ft wide, built with thousands of gingerbread bricks and gallons of royal icing. Wafting a spicy perfume redolent of grandma’s kitchen, the toothsome dwelling opens to the public on November 24.
Throughout the season, children can write letters to the North Pole at activity stations, while parents enjoy the Lobby Champagne Bar as a gift to themselves.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Berlin, Germany
Ever hip and contemporary, Berlin clings to old school swank and cheer when it comes to the Yuletide season. Awash with soul-stirring Christmas markets and city-wide holiday decor, the cultural capital won’t disappoint during the holidays.
Immerse in a sanctuary of celebratory bliss at sought-after Hotel Adlon Kempinski, situated opposite the iconic Brandenburg Gate. Merry interiors and seasonal embellishments, including an array of decorated trees, bring the city’s joy inside the hotel. Those with a penchant for private celebrations should book the magniloquent Presidential Suite, which vaunts its own ornament-laden Christmas tree.
Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, LA, California
The City of Stars lives up to its moniker during the holidays at this luminous Rodeo Drive retreat, long a patch for the matinee idol crowd. This year’s installment conjures classic Christmas motifs, statuesque gift boxes with colorful shades of blue, pinks, greens, purples and reds and house-made Valrhona chocolate polar bears — not to mention holiday-inspired sweets in the lobby’s special hot chocolate bar.
With a fashionista’s eye, the ever Instagram-savvy hotel will update its awnings for the season from a yellow and white color combination to a red and green redressing.
The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
A throwback to the first Christmas fete thrown by one of the world’s wealthiest families at their country home in North Carolina in 1895, the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate continues the tradition each year with pageantry and trumpery. More than 30,000 lights, 13,000 ornaments, 1,000 poinsettias, 8,000 feet of garland and dozens of trees compose an enchanted holiday panorama, meant to reflect the nostalgic indulgence of past times.
Now a historic landmark that attracts throngs of tourists annually, the chateau-style mansion lords over 8,000 bucolic acres. Three lodging options occupy the property, including cottages, an inn and an intimate hotel. The Blue Ridge Mountains are visible from the estate, adding to the destination’s infinite charm.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs. Colorado
The majestic Rocky Mountains play second fiddle to The Broadmoor’s eye-popping trims and adornments during the holidays. Thousands of white lights illuminate the sprawling resort, a haven of conviviality for more than a century. The hotel launches the season the day after Thanksgiving with musical performances and appearances from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, not to mention a gingerbread display, which stays in place through New Year and a White Lights Ceremony on November 25.
Christmas trees, garlands and fresh flowers (including poinsettias, roses, holly and mistletoe) also enliven the haven. Throughout the season, holiday dining menus, shows, culinary demonstrations, indoor pickleball games and other moments of cheer keep guests in yuletide heaven.