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10 Most Festive Holiday Season Hotels


Like these holiday season travel ideas? Find out where to find unique Santas

December is the time to deck those halls, trim those trees and make lots of gingerbread, especially if you’re in the hotel business.  These ten hotels really go out of their way to for the holiday season and are easily worth the splurge of an overnight stay. If you can’t do that, stop by, try one of their events,  raise a cup of Christmas cheer at one of their bars or just take a gander at the pretty sites.

Happy holidays!

ginger bread pirates invade Amelia Island for the holiday season1. Amelia Island

The Ritz Carlton on this Florida island taps into Florida’s maritime culture with a giant gingerbread pirate ship —nice change from the usual cottage.  In addition, there is a 40-foot Christmas tree and thousands of holiday lights around the resort. Throughout December you can attend Santa’s Wonderland Dinner, Breakfast with Santa and Santa’s Storybook Tea.

2. Austin

Throughout the holiday season Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa has a seasonal ice skating rink, along with events milk and cookies with Mrs. Claus, an Elf-on-the-Shelf scavenger hunt, and and ornament decorating in the gift shop.

The hilton Anatole has a lot going on for the holiday season2. Dallas

The Hilton
 Anatole offers Breakfast with Santa on December weekends and the week leading up to Christmas. It includes holiday movie night with popcorn bar the night you arrive. The next morning have breakfast with the big guy followed by a scavenger hunt, face painting, gingerbread baking and storytime. While you’re there walk around and see the hotel’s towering nutcrackers, oversized floating ornaments,
tinsel-wrapped trees singing reindeer barn and marionette theater.

3. Chapel Hill, NC

The Carolina Inn has lavishly decked its halls once again to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas in grand Southern style. Through December you can enjoy the decorations when you come for events like the gingerbread house competition (winners chosen December 28),
 breakfast or brunch with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, afternoon tea or a special sugar plum fairy tea party.

Holiday Season ICE carvings are pretty spectacular at the Gaylord Resorts4. Gaylord Resorts

The five Gaylord resorts around the country are known for filling their soaring atriums with  holiday lights, decorations and ice sculptures that make them destinations in themselves.  Outside Washington, DC, National’s Christmas Around the World ice show features five ice slides. Opryland has a tubing hill. Gaylord Palms in Florida has recreated “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in ice while Their Texan hotel near Dallas (top) has taken on “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. The hotels also offer ice skating, live shows like a holiday Cirque du Soleil, and lots of lights and music.

5. Louisville, KY

The Galt House Hotel fills the holiday season with a magic show, breakfast with Santa and snow fairy tea on different days during the month. While you’re there you can enjoy Christmas at the Galt House which includes the 12 Days of Christmas “kaLightoscope,” a winter WonderLane, English Village, a Snow Fairy Princess and Castle, Peppermint Express Kiddie Train, Elf Show and dancing bellman. Hotel packages are available that include Christmas at the Galt House.

The holiday season is curiouser at Sea Island6. Low Country, Georgia

The holidays get cruiser and cruiser at Sea Island Resort. Last year the Grinch moved in for December and this year Alice is their special guest. Enjoy a Wonderland themed gingerbread village, the obligatory Mad Hatter’s tea party, book readings, and classes where kids can make Alice-themed cookies and decorations. The week leading up to Christmas has extra activities including Elf tuck-ins and a children’s Christmas party with Alice.

7. Palm Springs

The Waldorf Astoria La Quinta Resort (in the Pinnable below) honors local resident and sometimes guest Frank Capra by recreating Bedford Falls on its property and showing It’s a Wonderful Life. The idyllic small-town holiday atmosphere will be helped along by carolers, fresh snow on Christmas morning, fire pits for roasting chestnuts (or marshmallow) and holiday display windows. Christmas day guests can have a tree in their room and stockings delivered on Christmas morning.

The Roosevelt in New Orleans lights up during the holiday season8. New Orleans

New Orleans is a city that knows how to dress up and get fancy. The Roosevelt gussies up with a wonderland of trees, decoration and lights and trees that stretch a full block from its entrance to its lobby. Parents who are feeling fancy, and up to their best Southern etiquette, can book the Teddy Bear Tea. Kids sample sweets and parents quaff mimosas while the whole family imagines Santa swinging’ over the rooves of New Orleans.

9. St. Louis

Hilton Curio’s Union Station Hotel, already a destination for its stunning architecture, makes the most of its setting during the holidays. Outside there’s tubing, ice skating and a light show. Inside, the hotel becomes the North Pole Village with gingerbread baking and Santa’s mail room. The real treat is the special train rides to Santa’s house and workshop (on real trains), where passengers can wear pajamas, hang out with elves and hear The Night Before Christmas.

The Hotel Del celebrate the holiday season with lights10. San Diego

The Hotel Del Coronado does nothing half way. For the holiday season it decks out its iconic red turret with 100,000 lights and sets up an ice rink on the beach. Tweens and teens will like holiday night bike tours around while younger ones can enjoy story time with Mrs. Claus, holiday scavenger hunts and “Elf Tuck-Ins.” Have afternoon tea with polar bears or make Jingle S’mores around a beach bonfire with Santa Hats (or both!).

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10 Comments

  1. December 13, 2016 at 1:53 am — Reply

    Such a great list! I have always heard great things about Hilton Anatole and the Gaylord hotels. We love going to Coronado during the holidays and my kids especially love the ice rink.

  2. December 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm — Reply

    Was sure the New York package would have been the most expensive.
    I’d love to go to Washington to see the Williard’s Christmas tree.

  3. December 12, 2015 at 7:04 pm — Reply

    Great list. Austin’s Barton Creek Resort isn’t too far from me, and I’d completely forgotten about the ice skating rink which is open to the public. We’re doing a quick trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area for the holidays and will be staying at the Gaylord Texan. They also have a lot of holiday activities plus a (from what I hear) spectacular carved ice exhibit created by artisans from Harbin, China.

  4. December 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm — Reply

    Awesome collection of places to travel to for the holidays! I’d love to see Hotel del Coronado at Christmastime!

  5. December 12, 2015 at 2:36 am — Reply

    What a great list, Eileen. We should pair our Weekend Travel Inspirations up, since I wrote about traveling with kids….love it!

  6. December 11, 2015 at 9:48 pm — Reply

    I like the idea of the scavenger hunt at the Boston hotel. A great way to keep little ones amused.

  7. Meagan Shamy (@MeaganShamy)
    March 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm — Reply

    Best holiday getaway….That’s a tough question. We always love going to Whistler.

  8. December 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm — Reply

    This post made me wish I could get away. Such beautiful places, and great deals.

  9. Eric Dunes
    December 8, 2013 at 4:08 am — Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post Eileen. Good job!

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