The holiday season is the time for glitter and spectacle, and the displays at these hotels will make your jaw drop in wonder. If you have a holiday trip scheduled, any of these hotels would be magical to wander through — and even if you’re not, you can take your family to a local display to inject a little glitter into your life.
1. Bellagio: This luxury Vegas strip hotel is lavish all year round. But in December, it pulls out all the stops, transforming its conservatory and botanical gardens into a 14,000-square foot playground, with tableaus celebrating the sights and sounds of the holiday season. This year’s display includes a polar bear mom and two cubs made out of 12,000 carnations, a tour of Italy through floral and fruit displays, and a Chinese New Year tribute with pagodas, fireworks chandeliers, and a fountain that shoots up red water.
2. Swissôtel Chicago: The Windy City guesthouse throws a yearly party for Santa, and this year invites the public to tour its Santa Suite free. Guided tours will wind past a dinner table set for Santa and guests, Santa’s suit and boots in the closet, and a pipe ready to go by Santa’s armchair. There’s a letter-writing station for leaving holiday wish lists, twelve beautifully decorated Christmas trees, complimentary treats, and a keepsake gift for all children on the “nice list.” If you’ve ever toured Mickey or Minnie’s house at Disney, you’ll understand just how much kids love poking into the “private homes” of their icons. If you like the suite so much you decide to stay at the hotel, check into an elf-decorated suite with holiday decor, free milk and cookies, and complimentary ice skating at Maggie Daley Park for up to 4 people.
3. Fairmont San Francisco: High atop San Francisco’s beautiful Nob Hill, this grand old hotel goes over the top every holiday season, creating a two-story Victorian gingerbread house in its lobby that fill the air with spicy aromas. A culinary team spends over 300 hours baking more than 10,000 gingerbread bricks, then cements them together with 3,300 pounds of royal icing. Young guests who visit can write a letter to Santa, enjoy cocoa or high tea in the Fairmont’s festively decorated Laurel Court, or wonder at the Fairmont’s 23-foot Christmas tree. Families can also book a private dinner for up to 12 in the gingerbread house, or stay in the hotel’s Santa Suite, which comes with a candy and cocoa bar.
4. The Standard: The East Village location hip New York City hotel transforms its year-round garden on the corner of Bowery and East Fifth Street into a beautiful holiday playground, with heated yurts complete with furs to burrow into. Children will love huddling into a yurt to enjoy cheese fondue and apple strudel. Pick out a fir tree at the Standard’s Christmas tree market and you’ll get two free passes to the Standard’s High Line location’s festive outdoor ice-skating rink.
5. Four Seasons Austin: This Texas hotel is famed for its annual gingerbread village in the grand lobby, which this year features whimsical (and edible!) scenes inspired by the classic game Monopoly. This year, see a custom Monopoly board topped with 10 edible gingerbread houses depicting well-known Austin-area businesses and sights, including Four Seasons Austin where Park Place usually goes. Stay for a Teddy Bear Tea in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge, while adults enjoy one of the Four Seasons’ signature holiday drinks, such as the Grinchmas (Rittenhouse rye, Tempus Fugit creme de cacao and creme de menthe, Aztec chocolate bitters) or the Dreaming of a White Cosmo (Dripping Springs vodka, Cointreau, white cranberry and lime juices, and garnished with frozen cranberries and a sprig of rosemary).
6. Gaylord Opryland: Christmas trees decorated by Nashville stars and celebrities dress up the hotel’s multiple lobbies and the hotel grounds are a fairyland of lights and holiday displays, but the real draw here are the immersive winter-fun stations like the snow tubing hill covered with 1.5 million pounds of real snow, Santa’s Snow Throw, a chance to throw pre-constructed balls at moving targets in Santa’s workshop, and ICE!, an interactive ice sculpture exhibit with a Charlie Brown theme — and a children’s slide made of ice! Got time for a stage show? The Cirque Dreams Holidaze performance is new to the Gaylord this year.