These Christmas-Decorated Hotels Are Utterly Magical — Here’s How to Get the Look in Your Own Home

published Dec 7, 2021
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Credit: Claridge's in London

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year when hotels deck the halls with boughs of holly, Christmas trees galore, and twinkling lights. Some have a little more Yule in their approach to tree trimming than others; those are the ones that stick in our memories. Many holiday inns host Santa breakfasts, teddy bear teas, and spiked cider caroling, all in the name of creating family traditions. Whether these hotels display the entirety of their town in gingerbread or go absolutely Nutcrackers to mark the season, we’ve rounded up the ones that are truly un-missable. While it may be a stretch to light up your entire block — ahem, The Roosevelt New Orleans — we’re sure you’ll be as delighted to steal some inspo for your own home. After all, there’s no place like home for the holidays.

Claridge’s, London 

Credit: Claridge's in London

There may be no other hotel as synonymous with haute holiday decor as Claridge’s in London. A tradition spanning the past decade, the 190-room Art Deco hideaway partners with luxury fashion designers to create and curate its Christmas trees. Such guests have included Diane Von Furstenberg, the late Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, and Christopher Bailey for Burberry. Annual holiday events include festive high tea and an exclusive shopping experience. 

Channel the Art Deco feel of Claridge’s with a similar decor theme in a room of your own home. We love the idea of trimming a tree with ornaments that celebrate the sculptural nature of eras past. Complement your room’s centerpiece with a series of nostalgic touches like a pre-decorated mini-tree from Vickerman. Pro tip: The throwback light-up ceramic ones are also having a moment.  

The Roosevelt New Orleans

Credit: The Roosevelt New Orleans

The only thing easy about this big display of Christmas cheer in The Roosevelt in the Big Easy is the fact that guests and neighbors get to enjoy the spectacular annual display without any extra work needed. The team hauls out the holly, hangs tinsel on the evergreen tree, and turns on the brightest string of lights ever seen across an entire city block. Inside, innumerable Christmas trees are accented with 2,200 glass ornaments. And they, along with elegant lighted birch branches, are aglow with more than 130 thousand — yes, thousand — lights. Christmas day brunch is a tradition at the hotel that debuted 125 years ago, and the Teddy Bear Tea, which features appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus, is a NOLA favorite event. 

Credit: The Roosevelt New Orleans

In your own home, try lining your walkway with a series of lighted birch bark trees is a festive sight to welcome your own guests for a Teddy Bear tea. Think of it as the new cookie swap — have guests bring their favorite sweet seasonal treat to share; you’ll provide the finger sandwiches, peppermint tea, and hot cocoa. Set your table with space for bears or other stuffed friends in mind and prepare for the sweetest photo op you’ll see this season.

Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham, MA  

Credit: Chatham Bars Inn

This grand dame ocean-facing property is one of Cape Cod’s oldest hotels. At holiday time, the historic inn is festooned with white twinkle lights, vibrant poinsettias, and emerald wreaths. But the biggest draw for locals and visitors alike is the oversized gingerbread village. The replica of the town from the old-timey hardware store and five-and-dime on Main Street to the working fish pier and photogenic lighthouse is all hand-crafted by the hotel pastry team. The hotel also hosts holiday gingerbread decorating classes. 

Chances are that crafting a semi-homemade gingerbread house (we love this one from Crate and Barrel) is already on your holiday to-do list. But going all-out with an ornate gingerbread tree-topper may be just the added spice your holiday decor may need this season. This one available at Neiman Marcus is a serious splurge; an Etsy version is more whimsical and perfect for a kids’ tree. 

Viceroy Chicago

Credit: Viceroy Chicago

This modern retreat housed in a landmarked building is the best of the Windy City personified — contemporary design soaring among classic architecture. The sleek urban hotel toasts to the season with some unexpected flair, such as pajama brunches and exclusive Nutcracker experiences. The highlight to this experience is Deveraux, a rooftop bar serving a holiday menu of boozy hot chocolate and gourmet s’mores in cozy chalets or beside a roaring fire. 

Four-season geodesic domes are a wonderful yard accessory to make every day feel like a holiday, though of course, they are super-splurgy. If you want to extend your outdoor time in cooler temps, though, this may be just the ticket. Hot tip: The temperature inside the igloo is higher than outdoors, due to its angles and design, so this may work well even in chilly climates. Prep your s’mores before snuggling to watch the stars. All the gourmet kits from S’moreology are decadent and feature hand-crafted marshmallows. The pepperminty Santa Baby collection is our pick for seasonal favorite. Add some faux-fur throws for even more luxurious lounging.

The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, U.S.V.I

Credit: The Ritz Carlton St Thomas

Sure, dreaming of a white Christmas may be nice, but one that’s sun-kissed on golden sands is an absolute gift. The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, U.S.V.I is a luxurious bay-facing hideaway in the easily accessible U.S. Virgin Islands. It promises all the glitter of a beachfront vacation with seasonal touches like decked out pool cabanas and couple massages under the mistletoe. A standout amenity is the life-size sandcastle Christmas tree that fronts the property. 

Credit: The Ritz Carlton St Thomas

How to get the look in your own home? “Sand” castle trees and holiday stars are unexpected centerpieces on a special holiday table, especially if your family loves fun-in-the-sun beach vacations. Mix 1 cup of sand, ½ cup of cornstarch, and a teaspoon of alum with a wooden spoon. Add 3/4 cup of water and stir over medium heat until the consistency of sand. Cool and mold into your very own sand castle tree. Tip: Add a tablespoon of baking soda to make the structures stay together longer. 

Fairmont Scottsdale in Princess, Arizona 

Credit: Fairmont Scottsdale

Perhaps it’s the magic of Father Christmas that strings, arranges, and powers no less than six million lights across the full-service Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Arizona resort in Phoenix’s tony suburb known for its golf, hiking, and spa offerings. Celebrating a dozen years of hosting the holiday cheer extravaganza, this year’s event features jaw-dropping light displays, the popular ice skate rink in the desert, and a new amenity called the Village. The interactive area offers chairlift rides, sledding adventures and snowfall, all in Arizona. 

When decorating your own home, consider dancing Christmas lights, which are a colorful and a fun over-the-top addition to any front lawn. Add the lifesize Mr. & Mrs. Claus Porch Swing (an inflatable moving pair of dolls), along with Rodolph, the abominable snowman and tree and you may become the neighborhood Christmas house. If you really want to bust the bank — and electric bill — consider hiring a decor company. They’ll string lights across every inch of your home. 

El Capitan, Merced, CA

Credit: Monique de Villa

Making the lists, decking the halls and dashing through the snow — some may say the holidays may make them a bit nutty. And El Capitan, just two hours from San Francisco in the heart of California’s Central Valley, one of the country’s most robust farming communities, is doing just that, in the most festive way ever. This year, there’ll be a Nutcracker suite featuring hundreds of the wooden toy soldiers. In addition, specialty food and beverage programs are featuring local almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. 

Celebrate a classic taste of the season with one of the easiest recipes to make at home with kids — brittle. We love a quintessential Peanut Brittle that’s got just the right amount of crunch. For an unexpected taste, try your hand at the 10-minute Pistachio Brittle by our friends at Kitchn. Gift with a modern interpretation of the old guard nutcracker for a chic, sugar-plum finish.